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Energia Community Series: Connacht & Munster Conferences Round-Up

Energia Community Series: Connacht & Munster Conferences Round-Up

Cork rivals Midleton and Sunday's Well compete in Munster Conference 2 of the newly-created Energia Community Series ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

It was a famous day for Cashel at sunny Coonagh where they kicked off the inaugural Energia Community Series with a shock 36-30 win over Shannon, who reside a division above them in the Energia All-Ireland League.

It was a 10-try thriller to begin the Munster Conference 1 campaign, and the Tipperary club’s lineout maul was a serious weapon right from the off. A third-minute drive saw new hooker Robin Foot open the scoring with an early five-pointer out wide.

Shannon full-back Keelan Stephenson showed his pace on a breakaway try from inside his own half, having reacted quickest to a partially-blocked kick. But Cashel moved 19-7 clear with their beefy ball-playing forwards causing havoc and player-coach Darragh Lyons pulling the strings at out-half.

Cathal Ryan’s pushover effort was followed by a fine individual try from talented youngster Ciaran Ryan whose barnstorming 23rd-minute run took him over from 40 metres out. Shannon hit back with two John O’Sullivan penalties to cut the gap to 19-13 at half-time.

Despite losing Lyons to the sin-bin, the visitors opened the second half’s scoring with a swashbuckling break which led to centre Alan McMahon bagging the bonus point in the left corner. By the 52-minute mark, Cashel had tagged on a penalty try for a 31-13 lead after their menacing maul had forced Shannon to infringe.

A three-man break from deep was swiftly finished off by Shannon full-back Ikem Ugwueru in the 69th minute, and while Cashel tagged on a sixth try through James Kendrick, Shannon did manage to pocket two bonuses thanks to late scores from Ronan Coffey and Ben Daly.

Young Munster got off to a flying start at Tom Clifford Park, running out comprehensive 43-14 winners over Division 1A rivals UCC. As well as a two-try contribution from busy back Luke Fitzgerald, the return of Ireland Club international prop Colm Skehan from a near two-year injury lay-off was a huge boost to the Cookies.

A first-half penalty try kept UCC in touch at 19-7 down, but second half tries from scrum half Donnacha O’Callaghan, Huw Worthington and Fitzgerald saw Gearoid Prendergast’s men power to victory. Young out-half Evan Cusack kicked 11 points and engineered some of the hosts’ best attacks.

New Highfield head coach Conor Quaid watched his charges display all of their famed battling qualities to fight back and draw 22-all with Garryowen at Woodleigh Park. They were staring at a sizable defeat when tries from Bryan Fitzgerald, Scott Leahy and Jamie Shanahan shot the visitors into a 22-3 lead.

Replying to an early Paddy O’Toole penalty, the youthful Light Blues touched down from their first serious attack in the 20th minute. Fitzgerald went over out wide after a neat interchange, before a timely Miah Cronin interception prevented Garryowen from adding to their lead in the 35th minute.

Nonetheless, barely a minute later, an O’Toole clearance kick was charged down and the loose ball was dotted down in the corner by lock Leahy. Out-half Jason Kiely threaded over a terrific conversion from tight to the right touchline for a 14-3 advantage at the interval.

The Highfield defence was carved open for full-back Shanahan to go over in the right corner, adding to an early second-half penalty from Kiely. Yet, Quaid’s side built some crucial momentum during the final quarter, their run of scores starting when Garryowen were caught narrow and winger Paul Stack finished in the left corner from O’Toole’s skip pass.

Scrum half Chris Banon soon sniped through from the edge of the Garryowen 22 to send the supporting Stack over from a couple of metres out, and the industrious Fintan O’Sullivan-led home pack piled through on a lineout drive – Callum McIntosh the scorer – to set up out-half O’Toole’s late levelling conversion.

Division 2A club Old Crescent gave a very good account of themselves in the first half at Temple Hill before Cork Constitution cut loose to register a 54-19 bonus point success. Daniel Hurley and Cathal Monaghan crossed in either half and Crescent also gained a penalty try when Jack O’Mahony was tackled without the ball in a race to the try-line.

Cork Con tallied up eight tries in the end, bolstered by a brace each from captain Niall Kenneally and speedy winger JJ O’Neill. Billy Crowley, Barry Galvin, Duncan Williams and Bruce Mathews also scored with out-half Aidan Moynihan landing seven conversions.

In Connacht, Paddy Pearson’s Sligo picked up a valuable road victory when overcoming Buccaneers 33-14 at Dubarry Park. Buccs had a try in each half as Darren Browne’s early maul try was added to by a closing Darragh Corbett score, which was created by a deft Luke Carty grubber kick.

Eager to put one over on their Division 2A opponents, Sligo proved the stronger on the day with a Matthew Earley try from a maul giving them a 14-7 half-time lead. Jack Keegan’s third-minute intercept score had set them on their way.

Sligo out-half Euan Brown added two more tries, his first from a clever chip and blindside break. He then combined with Enda Gavin and Keegan to pocket the bonus point, before James O’Hehir used another well-executed lineout drive to score just past the hour mark.

Jack Noone (2), Simon Keller, Liam Marmion, Matthew Devine (2) and Jack Feeney shared out the tries as Galway Corinthians triumphed 41-20 against the youngest ever senior squad fielded by Ballina. The Moy men were dreaming of an upset when a Ronan Molloy try and Darragh Whyte penalty had them 20-17 up, but Corinthians pulled away in clinical fashion.

In Munster Conference 2, Bruff hit the ground running as they handed Sunday’s Well, who are now coached by David Corkery, a 32-14 defeat. Jack O’Grady shone in the first half, twice breaking through to set up tries for his centre partner Andrew O’Byrne.

O’Byrne was also in excellent form with the boot, firing over three conversions and two penalties to top-score with 22 points. Kieran Bennett and Cian Clifford were Bruff’s other try scorers, while the ‘Well had a converted Rob O’Keeffe score and a penalty try.

Like Bruff, Dolphin turned in a strong first half display to beat local rivals Midleton 38-14. They led 19-0 at the break thanks to tries from Conor Flanagan, Craig O’Connell and Finn Carey, and inside centre O’Connell completed his brace before two closing scores from Tim Phelan and Andrew Dorgan.

Midleton skipper Stuart Lee converted his own try and a Rob Williams effort, while at New Ormond Park, Nenagh Ormond claimed the Tipperary bragging rights against local rivals Clonmel, running out 31-8 bonus point winners.

Luke Hogan’s late first-half try gave Clonmel some hope at 21-8 down, but Nicky Irwin (50 minutes) and John Hayes (73) both crossed to seal the result for Nenagh. The victors’ other tries were shared out by Willie Coffey, Kevin O’Gorman and Paudie Bourke, and out-half Fionn McGibney kicked three conversions.

ENERGIA COMMUNITY SERIES – FIRST ROUND RESULTS:

MUNSTER CONFERENCE 1:

Cork Constitution 54 Old Crescent 19, Temple Hill
Highfield 22 Garryowen 22, Woodleigh Park
Shannon 30 Cashel 36, Coonagh
Young Munster 43 UCC 14, Tom Clifford Park

MUNSTER CONFERENCE 2:

Bruff 32 Sunday’s Well 14, Kilballyowen Park
Dolphin 38 Midleton 14, Irish Independent Park
Nenagh Ormond 31 Clonmel 8, New Ormond Park
UL Bohemians – Bye

CONNACHT CONFERENCE:

Buccaneers 14 Sligo 33, Dubarry Park
Galway Corinthians 41 Ballina 20, Corinthian Park
Galwegians – Bye

Energia Community Series – Fixtures/Results/Tables