It has been a season plagued with narrow defeats for Shannon coach Colm Tucker Jnr but after Saturday’s deserved 21-13 victory over Clontarf, his side’s position in AIB League Division 1A looks considerably healthier.
Shannon can now go into the Christmas break reasonably content as this victory brings them up to third place and closes the gap to six points on Division 1A St. Mary’s College.
Bad form has not been the issue for Shannon this season. More frustratingly for head coach Colm Tucker Jnr, his side have been denied at the death twice, losing out to Garryowen on the opening weekend and Cork Constitution last Saturday.
Therefore, coming into a tough match against Clontarf in their own backyard, it was important to get points on the board.
Two early tries from Ireland ‘A’ star Felix Jones and winger Stephen Kelly ensured a comfortable lead for Shannon and left Clontarf playing catch up throughout the match.
‘Tarf began to push for a comeback in the final ten minutes but when Shannon out-half Tadhg Bennett coolly slotted a drop goal just outside the opponents’ 22 in the dying moments, the result was sealed.
Speaking after the game, Tucker Jnr expressed his contentment with the victory, saying: “We’re very pleased with the win. It was a big test of us after last week’s defeat.
“That was a big kick for us when we played well (against Con) but unfortunately didn’t come away with the win.
“We went back and we looked at it and we kind of said it was our own fault for not putting away the chances and it was important we came up here and did the business because this is a really hard place to come.
“We’ve been working hard all week and we’re delighted to be taking something out of the game.”
Understandably, Tucker Jnr had to acknowledge the battling qualities of ‘Tarf who asked several questions of the Shannon defence.
“I think Clontarf are a very, very physical side and they really put it up to us today. Not even at the end of the game but throughout the game,” he added.
“They had spells and they dominated and at times they probably didn’t take their opportunities so I mean, we missed a few shots as well. So, I think it was up and down and it was just a really physical game.”
It was another good day for Jones in the number 15 shirt who was instrumental in both tries and regularly managed to find gaps in the ‘Tarf defence.
Tucker Jnr was quick to praise the services that the Munster regular offers.
“It is great to get Felix in and the great thing about him is he’s such a good genuine guy as well and he’s really bought into the club and the lads, and the lads love playing with him as well.”
The question for Shannon now is whether this win can revive their quest to retain the league title. Unsurprisingly, Tucker Jnr had no intention of getting carried away.
“Hopefully this can get us back on track. It’s difficult to tell. I mean, you’re talking one or two games and things could turn around so quickly.
“So, it’s just a matter of taking this and enjoying it and we’ll go back and refocus again when we come back after the break.”
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