Clonmel 24 Sunday’s Well 25
Where this is a will; there must be a way. It wasn’t the prettiest; most dominant or impressive performance. With a victory a must though they managed to pull off an unlikely victory. The chance seemed to have evaded them when a long-distance Fabien Loughrey penalty, with one minute left, drifted wide; as Clonmel held on to their two-point lead. However; the ‘Well were given one more chance when the 22 restart was kicked out on the full. The whole season had come down to this. A scrum away on the opposition Twenty-Two with the game, the season, maybe even the club’s senior status all on the line. In fairness; Clonmel probably shaded the scrum battle throughout the game. On this most crucial of occasions though the ‘Well summoned all their power, might and self-belief to produce a magnificent drive, that had the Tipperary side on the backfoot. Led by Neville O’Donoghue and particularly Michael Moynihan, they continued to surge; eventually winning the penalty. Loughrey was possibly the coolest person on the pitch; as he slotted the ball through the posts; raising the touch judge flags followed immediately by the final whistle; to the jubilation of the squad, coaching staff and supporters.
It wasn’t a game for the faint-hearted. With a large vocal travelling support from the ‘Well witnessing a mammoth game that went right down to the wire. The ‘Well knew a win would guarantee their Energia All Ireland League status especially as expected City of Derry won their home match against Tullamore with a bonus point. Clonmel were already guaranteed of being in the relegation play-off, but they weren’t in the mood for resting up ahead of that clash. The Tipperary were magnificent in this game; producing quick ball, regulalry powering past the gain-line and their centre Luke Hogan was in sublime form with a hat-trick. The ‘Well did get the first score of the game but after that it was one-way traffic in the first-half. A beautiful Josh Featherstone kick had Clonmel with a defensive line-out. Cormac Kelliher stole it and the ‘Well recycled with Shane Desmond making some strong clear-outs. Eventually Adam Browne managed to surge over for the opening score. Clonmel then took control. A great flowing move eventually released Luke Noonan who skated down the right-wing for a try. This was followed up by Luke Hogan cutting through the defence to go in under the posts with Cass converting. Loughrey did kick a penalty to reduce the gap to 12-8, a score that would be crucial come the end of the game but Clonmel struck again through.Hogan and Cass’s conversion made the game 19-8.
In the second-half; the ‘Well managed to fight their way in the game. They didn’t necessarily strike back by dominating but never dropped their heads; showing great grit and determination. Crucially they kept in the game and played right until the last minute. Ross O’Mahony helped the recovery early in the second half with a couple of big carries. Not necessarily leading to points but gradually shifting the momentum. One facet of play that was major throughout was the line-out and the driving maul, with James Mulcahy and Cormac Kelliher dominant in the air and getting some big drives on. Sean Glynn surged around and the two substitute props Moynihan and O’Donoghue were prominent in open-play as well as solidifying the scrum. Eventually after a series of strong carries, Michael Moynihan managed to burst past the defensive line to touch down under the posts. Loughrey’s conversion made it a 19-15 game but Luke Hogan then produced a scintillating run for a solo try that put his side into a two-score lead again. The ‘Well responded with some great driving mauls and with the line beckoning; James Mulcahy managed to touch the ball down. Loughrey converted to make it not only a one-score game but to leave less than a kick at goal between the sides.
There was still eight minutes left and the ‘Well dominated possession and territory. Clonmel in fairness didn’t relent and made their hits and tackles whilst maintaining their discipline. Eventually it looked like it would come down to a late late penalty; thirty-five meters out to the left into a stiff breeze. A hush came over the ground; Loughrey wiped his brow, stepped forward and struck it well but it was pushed to the right. With that it looked like the ‘Well’s chance had gone and they would be reconvening twice more with Clonmel in the relegation play-off. There was still time for one more play as Clonmel had a Twenty-Two restart. The ball though drifted directly out of play; giving the ‘Well one more gift with a scrum in the Twenty-Two. With this present; the team knew they had to take it. The pack pulled together as one, the inspirational Michael Moynihan led with his front-row partners to produce one of the greatest scrums in Sunday’s Well history as the referee was compelled to offer the penalty. The kick still had to be taken with Loughrey showing nerves of steel to seal the deal. Scorers: Clonmel:`L Hogan (3), L Noonan tries; D Cass 2 cons. Sunday’s Well: A Browne, M Moynihan, J Mulcahy tries; F Loughrey 2 pens, 2 cons.Clonmel: D Cass; G Carroll, L Hogan, A Daly, C Pearson; L Noonan, A hickey; N Campion, R Wynn, B O’Kelly; J Lonergan, T Cantwell; D Devaney, J Gallgher, J McIlwarth. Replacements: B Delecato, DJ Brannock, M Lonergan J Corbett, G Whelan. Sunday’s Well: B Pope; W Trevor, M Daly, R O’Mahony, R Kelleher; J Featherstone, F Loughrey; G O’Sullivan, A Browne, M McCarthy; E O’Connell, S Desmond; J Mulcahy, S Glynn, C Kelliher. Replacements: J McHenry, M Moynihan, N O’Donoghue, M Kelly, L Murphy.
Clonmel 24 Sunday’s Well 25