Andrew Thompson helped Shannon climb back up to second place in the table as he grabbed a 16-point haul in the champions’ 31-0 defeat of Dungannon.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, February 17
SHANNON 31 DUNGANNON 0, Thomond Park
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Andrew Thompson, Sean Cronin, Colm McMahon, Andrew Finn; Con: Thompson; Pens: Thompson 3
The Tyrone men were kept scoreless as Shannon gave Thomond Park a fitting send-off in their last outing at the Limerick ground before its redevelopment.
A lovely chip and chase try by out-half Thompson, 29 minutes in, saw Shannon take a 13-0 lead into the second half.
Three more tries followed – hooker Sean Cronin barged over for his sixth of the league run, he then teed up skipper Colm McMahon and centre Andrew Finn also crossed in injury-time.
Shannon kept up their incredible league record against Dungannon – that is 12 wins and one draw against the Tyrone men after Saturday’s success – as they reeled in the pretenders to their crown at the top of the Division One table.
Mick Galwey’s charges moved back up to second spot, ahead of the break for the AIB Club international against England Counties next Friday.
Central to their latest win was ‘old stager’ Thompson. The Laois man, eight times an All-Ireland League winner, was coolness personified in the out-half’s seat, scoring a first half try – a lovely chip and chase effort – and adding 11 points with the boot.
That was Thompson’s second try this season and his league points haul, according to official figures, now stands at 1,054 points – more than enough to see him claim the number 10 shirt at Donnybrook for Friday’s televised club international, with the team confirmed today.
13-0 ahead at the break (Thompson landed penalties after 11 and 22 minutes), Shannon’s complete control of possession meant Jeremy Davidson’s visitors never really got a look-in.
Three minutes into the second half, Cronin gave another glimpse of what he could off Munster in the years ahead as he beat two tacklers, including New Zealander Michael Pehi, to grab his sixth try of the campaign. Scrum half Frankie McNamara had provided a delightful set-up.
On the hour mark, a Cronin break paved the way for big back rower McMahon to nab Shannon’s third try.
And after former Irish international Jonny Bell had seen yellow, having only been on the field a matter of minutes, the hosts’ bonus point score followed at the death – Joe Manuelle produced a thunderous tackle to force a turnover and his midfield partner Finn got the touchdown.
IrishRugby.ie man of the match: Thompson (Shannon)
Shannon: M Lawlor (D O’Donovan); S Kelly, A Finn, J Clogan (J Manuelle), P O’Connor; A Thompson, F McNamara; C Costigan (G McNamara), S Cronin (TJ Hickey), T Buckley, P O’Brien, F Walsh, G Noonan, D Quinlan, C McMahon.
Dungannon: J McGuckian (A Larkin); N Patterson, P Magee, G Telford, M Pehi (J Bell); R McCarter, J Bates; G Sinnamon, C O’Kane, D Fitzpatrick, S McCarroll, M Rainey, A Hughes, S Lamb, O Hennessy.
Referee: Ken Henley-Willis (IRFU)