The job of a Club PRO can be a thankless one at times and much of the work can go unseen. IrishRugby.ie receives the weekly ‘Shannon Notes’ from Andrew McNamara and this week we thought we would bring you an extract from his summation of just what a big day last Saturday was for the club.
Shannon are one of the most succesful clubs in the history of the league but this season they have struggled. Last Saturday saw them avoid a relegation playoff on the last day of the league season:
Cometh the hour, cometh the man; Well, in this case it was cometh the 84 minutes and cometh the men. Winning League trophies is no doubt a feeling that’s unsurpassable, but last Saturday , with no trophies on offer we had a similar feeling of joy interlaced strongly with an instantaneous feeling of relief.
Seminal, is defined as shaping, influential, decisive. If ever we had a seminal moment in our League history than last Saturday was certainly one. Without wishing to sound over dramatic, the consequence for losing our top flight status would have been shaping, influential and deciscive.
However, as The Isle resounded around the dressing rooms of Coonagh we could certainly look ahead to next season with an unequivocal sense of belonging to Division 1A.
We have endured the thoughts of what might have been on the last day of the season over the years when a lack of a point or two denied us a semi final spot, and last Saturday, amongst the overwhelming feelings of rapture, we also reflected, briefly of what might have been if we didn’t get our bonus point win over Dolphin.
Rewind to four hours previous, and the pre match team room.
We’ve witnessed pre final speeches where evocative words were eloquently and emotionally dispatched which yielded the desired effect, but last Saturday the pangs of tension were so tangible that one could be forgiven to think that they alone would beat our lads.
However, to underestimate a Shannon side with a sense of purpose is to underestimate life itself, and the strength of character that followed was a privilege to witness.
It was left to one of most senior, most experienced players to deliver the words that would define what the game meant to him and the club.
It was, to say the least a triumph of eloquence, where an emotional call to arms captivated the entire squad, and at that point the raw, nervous tension could be felt, but it was transposed into a deep sense of positivity and purpose, which of course was reinforced with actions on the pitch.
The wind was against us, but it mattered little as the lads produced a first half performance that befitted the occasion.
The ongoing updates from Clifford Park had Garryowen in the driving seat and by the time the break came it was a healthy 12 point lead, but crucially they were bereft of tries.
It meant that nothing was guaranteed, and even our three try haul would need another before we could glimpse the safety. While the momentum was very much in our favour thanks to some sterling performances, it was Dolphin that opened the second half with a try which set the hearts racing again.
However, those particular anxieties were short lived as first Marcus O’Driscoll ploughed over the line and then news that Young Munster had overtaken Garryowen in their game.
It wasn’t all plain sailing as the performance went a little flat when the combinations turned in our favour, but thankfully it was job done with a final score of 28-18, and an enormous satisfaction.
The reflections in the coming days and weeks will be focused on how, and why were in such a position and it must be said that the happy scenes post match were more in keeping with relief than that of celebration.
Shannon celebrate success with silverware and not at merely maintaining our position in the league. It’s an unwritten standard that has been adhered to and which has seen us win nine League titles.
The work and preparations have already began for next season’s competition, but for most the senior season ended last Saturday and a well earned break for a month or so until the training hills and field beckon.
It was a season of probably more lows than highs, but regardless of what went on the pitch the work rate of those involved never waned, but intensified.
We sincerely thank Colm Tucker and Ger Casey, and the backroom team for their unwavering dedication to the team. Martin Flannery, Damian Morden, JP.Tucker and Seamus Whelton gave a huge part of their lives to the senior side, along with Team Doc John O’Dea, but we save the biggest plaudits to team Manager, Ger Mullally who after three years at the helm has decided to step down.
Few know the dedication and commitment that this onerous position has attached to it. It’s the little, but important jobs that are overlooked by others, which are part of a manager’s brief, but Ger’s ability could make the big jobs small and make the small ones just as important.
So to the BUD, on behalf of everyone in the club we thank you for your efforts, but just like a bad smell he’ll continue to linger for some time yet. There are a few rumours around the retirement of a certain senior player, but we’ll leave sleeping dogs lie for few days and work on a little gentle persuasion.
For next season it seems, there is STILL an Isle!