Sunday’s Well 11 Tullamore 27.
A strong first-half should have seen the ‘Well rewarded more than they were, as they only held on to a narrow 8-3 lead at the break. It was probably the most dominant half of the season; as they sent wave after wave of attack inside the Twenty-Two but a mix of scrappy and tenacious goal-line defense from the visitors; kept the Offaly side in the game. Their confidence and intricate running game came more to the fore in the second half as they raced in three tries to secure the win.
The ‘Well side was cheered on by a vocal home support who like the players were straight into the game from the kick-off. Harry McHenry’s kick was went deep into the Twenty-Two and the chasing pressure managed to win the ball back for the Cork side. This was followed up with several strong carries from Evan O’Connell, Dan O’Brien and Cormac Kelliher; bringing play to within inches of the line.
Tullamore hit their tackles hard and defended the goal-line stoutly; finally managing to snatch possession back. This was a sign of the remainder of the first-half; with the ‘Well’s strong kicking game; an excellent driving maul and some nice runs from deep by Kieran Maye, Gary Downey and Eoin O’Sullivan among others setting up excellent attacking opportunities for the host.
The forwards carried strongly; led by captain Conor O’Brien with Jack McHenry and Kevin Holland making some powerful surges. The reward did come within ten minutes. Having a penalty advantage; the ball was shipped out and John Costello stepped back on the inside to gain the upper hand in a collision and force his way over the line.
A rare foray by Tullamore did allow Karl Dunne reduce the arrears with his side from a penalty; but the incessant pressure continued. O’Sullivan and Denis Hurley made some excellent runs while the pack carried strong close to the line. Tullamore were giving away several penalties and were on a last warning when Eoin O’Sullivan saw space and attempted a quick tap. Unfortunately for the ‘Well; the referee afforded time for the Tullamore captain to speak to his team about the warning and with that chance no longer available; the ‘Well opted for the posts to take an 8-3 lead into the break.
The game was on a more even keel at the start of the second-half. Tullamore are a side who like to spread the ball with intricate passing movements and runners off the shoulder; and their game plan came more to the fore as the half progressed.
They got two breaks that shifted the momentum of the game. With penalties; they frequently were able to tap and go quickly, with such a move initiated by scrum-half Conor Dunne also finished off by him to go in under the posts. Karl Dunne, noticing the ‘Well defense stretched at one minute made an excellent cross-field kick to let Lance Batten run in.
The ‘Well didn’t drop their heads and responded with their scrum managing to work a penalty for them. They drove a line-out up towards he five meter line and with Tullamore making an illegal stop; the visitors were put down to 14 men. The ‘Well opted for the kick to get within one score but they couldn’t make the man advantage count and Tullamore rounded off the day with a third try from Gavin Kelly.
Scorers: Sunday’s Well: J Costello try; D Hurley, Featherstone pens.
Tullamore: C Dunne try, 3 cons, pen; L Batten, G Kelly tries, K Dunne pen
Sunday’s Well: J Featherstone; K Maye, E O’Sullivan, D Hurley, G Downey; H McHenry, D Courtney; E O’Connell, J McHenry, M McCarthy; J Costello, K Holland; C Kelliher, D O’Brien, C O’Brien. Replacements: J Downey, D Kozik, R Mintern, A Mintern, R Geary.
Tullamore: B Geraghty; L Farrell, S Milne, L Batten, S McCabe; K Dunne, C Dunne; C Behan, M Murphy, M Kennedy; A Douglas, G Kelly; J Delahunt, L Fox, B Bracken. Replacements: S Fleming, F Redmond, C Kelly, S Burns, C Strong.
Referee: A Munce (IRFU)