4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
AIB League Division One Semi-Final: Saturday, April 30 Shannon 21 Clontarf 11, Thomond Park Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Fionn McLoughlin, John O'Connor; Con: David Delaney; Pens: Delaney 3 Clontarf: Try: Marc Hewitt; Pens: Daragh O'Shea 2
Belfast Harlequins will provide the six-time champions' opposition in next Saturday's showpiece final, and also hand first-time coach Mick Galwey the chance to gain revenge on 'Quins for Shannon's 19-18 upheaval at Deramore Park before Christmas.
Since that loss, Galwey has overseen a stunning nine straight league wins and the 38-year-old former Munster and Ireland lock could be celebrating the club's third AIB League success since 2002 next weekend.
Tries from Fionn McLoughlin and John O'Connor late on in either half ensured the recent Munster Senior Cup winners' path through.
Tarf - 26-17 league losers at the same venue four weeks ago - began well with two Daragh O'Shea penalties, but were keep scoreless for a full 70 minutes as Galwey's charges mercilessly turned the screw.
Full-back O'Shea's successes on 4 and 14 minutes were cancelled out by two Shannon penalties from man-of-the-match David Delaney - his second slot coming on 27 minutes. The Shannon machine quickened pace in the first half's closing stages as referee Simon McDowell sent Clontarf lock Andy Wood to the sin-bin on 37 minutes for not rolling away at a ruck.
Shannon took full advantage as a 39th-minute lineout drive on the far side of the pitch saw left winger McLoughlin put over in the corner, for an 11-6 interval lead.
Tarf full-back O'Shea missed a chance to reduce the deficit with a quick penalty on the restart and Delaney, who controlled matters in the loose, fired Shannon further in front on 57 minutes with his third kick.
With just two minutes remaining, a quick free kick-tap by substitute David Quinlan made certain of Shannon's ninth straight league success as flanker O'Connor touched down - with two players in support.
Delaney converted for 21-6 but 'Tarf - beaten finalists in 2003 - had the last word as impressive sub scrum-half Dan van Zyl set up an injury-time move for fly-half Marc Hewitt to bag a late consolation try.
Shannon: D O'Donovan; I Dowling, B Tuohy, E Cahill, F McLoughlin; D Delaney, F O'Loughlin; L Hogan, N Conroy, T Buckley, E Halvey, T Hayes (Capt), C McMahon, S Keogh, J O'Connor. Replacements used: J Blaney for Conroy, D Quinlan for Halvey (both 53 mins), A Thompson for Cahill (57), G Murray for O'Loughlin (70), G Noonan for McMahon (79).
Clontarf: D O'Shea; M Hewitt, C Mahony, J Downey, D Rossi; D Hewitt, M Walls; J Wickham, B Jackman, A Clarke, J Duffy, A Wood, D O'Brien (Capt), D Tafanel, S O'Donnell. Replacements used: D McAllister for O'Shea (35 mins), D van Zyl for Walls, W O'Kelly for Wickham, A O'Donnell for Clarke, A Kearney for Wood (all 62), N Carson for Jackman (79).
Sin-bin: A Wood (Clontarf (36 mins) HT: Shannon 11 Clontarf 6 Referee: Simon McDowell (Ulster)