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.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 41 SHANNON 27, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock College: Tries: Shane Monahan 3, Darragh Fitzpatrick, Niall Morris, Simon Morrissey; Cons: Darragh Fitzpatrick 4; Pen: Darragh Fitzpatrick
Shannon: Tries: Stephen Kelly, Richie Mullane; Con: Tadhg Bennett; Pens: Tadhg Bennett 4; Drop: Mossie Lawlor
Blackrock College v Shannon - Match Photo Gallery
Winger Shane Monahan's hat-trick of tries steered Blackrock to only their fourth win in 15 AIB League meetings with the Limerick giants.
Wind-backed Shannon led 22-20 at half-time, with young number 10 Tadhg Bennett kicking 14 points.
The game was squared up (27-27) courtesy of tries from Simon Morrissey and Richie Mullane, with Bennett missing the conversion.
However, two more scores from man-of-the-match Monahan helped the hosts avenge last season's AIB Cup final defeat.
Team captain Shane Byrne and coaches Barry Gibney and Emmet Farrell will admit that last April's agonising cup loss to Shannon was not on their minds (today).
But the manner of this victory and the class shown by the hosts in pulling clear in the closing stages, particularly with so many young players on board, will have filled the trio with pride.
Blackrock finished fifth in the league last season and on this evidence, they look set to challenge for a play-off place and a spot in next year's revamped Division One.
A number of last year's Under-20 squad stepped up to the mark, none more so than out-half Darragh Fitzpatrick who finished with a 16-point tally.
Shannon, winners of last week's Limerick Charity Cup final, had the wind at their backs in the first half but struggled to carve out scoring opportunities.
Punishing a 'Rock pack that contained former Leinster duo Byrne and Des Dillon, Bennett kicked two penalties after 3 and 5 minutes to settle the visitors.
Fitzpatrick replied but two more penalty successes followed for Bennett, one of them after 'Rock lost flanker James Ronan to the sin-bin.
A superb drop goal from full-back Mossie Lawlor, who found the posts from close to the halfway line, put Shannon 15-3 ahead.
However, some slick passing along the hosts' back-line then led to a first try of the afternoon for Monahan, the powerfully-built former Ireland Under-20 international.
And 'Rock exhibited more brilliance out wide when Fitzpatrick motored into space, out of his own half, and charged down the touchline to score an excellent individual try.
Niall Morris, another of 'Rock's former underage internationals, was next on the trysheet as he was put over by Monahan for the hosts' third try in the space of eight minutes.
Stopping the rot, Shannon speedster Stephen Kelly dashed over on the stroke of half-time to round off a brilliant right-to-left move.
Bennett's successful conversion was all that separated the sides after a first half which was a great advertisement for Irish club rugby.
The fast-paced action continued into the second period as Morrissey and Mullane traded tries shortly after the restart.
Bennett had a chance to re-establish Shannon's two-point lead but his conversion attempt hit a post.
From then on, with the elements at their backs, 'Rock's blend of youth and experience covered the hard yards and created enough space with intelligent passing to put Monahan within scoring range.
The Boyne product proved too hot to handle as he crossed for two tries in quick succession, both of which were converted by Fitzpatrick.
Blackrock came under fierce pressure in the closing quarter-hour but they were able to withstand all that Shannon threw at them, holding on for this character-building win.