Jump to main content


Neville Expecting A Tough Tussle With Shannon

Neville Expecting A Tough Tussle With Shannon

Garryowen flanker and captain Paul Neville gave his thoughts to IrishRugby.ie ahead of Saturday’s AIB League Division One semi-final showdown between his side and Shannon at Coonagh.

This time last year Garryowen were on the threshold of a unique treble of senior titles – the AIB League, AIB Cup and the Munster Senior Cup.

And the man that skippered them to those successes, Paul Neville, admits that this weekend’s league semi-final against Shannon is a ‘make or break game’ as it will determine the success or otherwise of the Dooradoyle residents’ season.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

“It was disappointing to lose the AIB Cup and the Munster Senior Cup so this is a case of being in the last chance saloon with regard to a trophy for us,” Neville said.

A former Connact player, the 29-year-old believes that the standard in the AIB League this season is on a par with last season.

“But it is frustrating to play five or six games on the trot and then to have weeks without league acrtion and this disrupts things a bit,” he reflected.

Neville will lead his troops into action at Coonagh on Saturday off the back of a ten match unbeaten run in the league.

“We have been playing well, the coaching under Dara (O’Sullivan) and the rest of the back-up team has been going well and we will certainly not be lacking in confidence for this one.

But Shannon and ourselves invariably produce close games and this one will be no exception.”

Asked for a defining moment in Garryowen’s league campaign this season, he plumped for the Limerick outfit’s hard fought 11-5 win over Lansdowne at the RDS in March.

“The ganme against Lansdowne sticks out. The weather was vile with a gale and strong rain but we dogged out a win that proved to be very important.”

Garryowen already know they will be without Neville’s back row colleague, Peter Malone, next season.

Malone is returning to Bruff, the club he began his career, as player-coach.

“Peter and I have been friends for a long time. He is a great fella to play with and he has a lot to offer Bruff. I am sorry to see him go but wish him the very best,” Neville said.

While top scorer Conor Kilroy (134 points) and the Garryowen pack regularly get the plaudits, Neville feels one of the club’s unsung heroes this season has been centre Conan Doyle.

“Conan’s been playing really well for us, he’s an excellent centre. We are also fortunate that (Munster winger) Keith Earls opted to play with us this season. He is a great talent for the future and is our top try scorer.”

The Garryowen skipper expects the game against Shannon to be a very close affair. “And the other semi-final too. There won’t be much between Cork Con and Clontarf, but I will be very surprised if Con don’t make it to the final.

“I hope to meet them there,” he added, bringing back memories of last season’s decider which saw Garryowen score a dramatic 16-15 win over Con at Musgrave Park.