Shannon endured a baptism of fire on their return to Energla All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A with a 39-3 defeat to Terenure College, last season’s runners-up.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 1
SHANNON 3 TERENURE COLLEGE 39, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Pen: Mike Cooke
Terenure College: Tries: Colm de Buitléar, Jordan Coghlan, Harrison Brewer, Craig Adams, Luke Clohessy, Matthew Bowen; Cons: Caolan Dooley 3; Pen: Caolan Dooley
HT: Shannon 3 Terenure College 26
Signalling their intent for the season ahead, Sean Skehan’s Terenure side ran in six unanswered tries on Thomond Park’s back pitch with debutant winger Matthew Bowen claiming the last of them.
Former Ealing Trailfinders Academy out-half Mike Cooke kicked Shannon into an early lead, but Terenure, with flanker Conall Boomer in brilliant form, soon showed exactly why they were title challengers last year.
Colm de Buitléar, Jordan Coghlan, captain Harrison Brewer, Craig Adams, Luke Clohessy and former UCC speedster Bowen shared out the Terenure tries. Caolan Dooley contributed nine points from the tee.
Cooke left-footed Shannon in front in the second minute, punishing an offside from Terenure. The visitors were quick to respond, though, forcing an error and claiming an opportunist opening try.
Dooley charged down a clearance kick from Cooke, dribbling the ball on. In a frantic chase for it, it squirted loose, away from a scrambling Aran Hehir, for de Buitléar to dot down to the right of the posts. Dooley added the extras.
Terenure’s defence held firm as Shannon stormed back, going very close to a try in response. A scrum penalty had launched them forward, but a promising spell of close-in carrying was ended by a turnover penalty won by Michael Melia.
Midway through the first half, Shannon prop Kieran Ryan’s sin-binning for a no-arms tackle was particularly costly as Terenure registered two tries in his absence.
‘Nure got their lineout maul firing before Alan Bennie’s pinpoint pass, following a Brewer carry, allowed number 8 Coghlan to get outside Killian Dineen and score from a few metres out. Dooley converted from straight in front.
The Dubliners quickly returned to the Shannon 22 thanks to a Dooley kick and Bowen’s follow-up tackle into touch. Kelvin Brown and Jade Kriel came to the hosts’ rescue by holding up ‘Nure’s next drive.
Still, a subsequent penalty saw Bennie exploit the space on the right. Boomer did really well to control the scrum half’s pass with his right boot and offload away from two defenders for Brewer, who calmly stepped inside Alan Flannery’s challenge to score.
Trailing 19-3 after 28 minutes, Shannon gained field position from a deflected Cooke touchfinder. In a pacy attack, Jack O’Donnell and Dan Hurley, following up on John Hurley’s kick through, forced Craig Adams to concede a five-metre scrum.
Again though, Terenure made their tackles count and a Shannon knock-on allowed them to kick clear. Frustratingly for the home support, when Brown worked some space for Kriel on the left, the big lock dropped the ball in motion.
‘Nure squeezed in a late bonus point try before half-time, with Adam La Grue heavily involved and Brewer also a key link man in the move.
Full-back La Grue’s pace had him racing down the left wing twice in quick succession, the latter raid seeing him connect with de Buitléar whose offload back inside put Adams over in the corner despite Cooke’s last-ditch tackle.
Dooley was successful with his toughest conversion of the lot, and with the Terenure pack able to smother out two late Shannon mauls near the left corner, Skehan’s charges turned around with a 26-3 lead.
It was tit-for-that on the resumption, openside Clohessy clamping down on the ball to win a penalty for ‘Nure before Brown lifted the home side with some terrific maul defence to secure the turnover.
Notably, Shannon were struggling to get out of their own half and Clohessy ran hard onto a Bennie pass, in the 55th minute, to batter his way over from close range. The opportunity arose after an initial penalty at the breakdown was won by Brewer.
Bennie was prowling for a try of his own, but Bowen’s pass went to ground. Terenure made sure they came away with points, nonetheless, as they won a scrum against the head and a Dooley three-pointer punished a high tackle from Brown.
Disappointingly for Shannon, they had two lineouts that failed to work out inside the ‘Nure 22. In addition, La Grue covered a fast break and kick over the top from scrum half Hehir.
As the rain came down during the dying minutes, ‘Nure made sure they finished the game on a high. Bowen crossed in the right corner after a neat line of passes from Clohessy, de Buitléar and La Grue.
SHANNON: John Hurley; Jack O’Donnell, Killian Dineen, Alan Flannery, Dan Hurley; Mike Cooke, Aran Hehir; Kieran Ryan, Jordan Prenderville, Luke Rigney, Jade Kriel, David Maher, Ronan Coffey (capt), Kelvin Brown, Lee Nicholas.
Replacements: Darragh Farrer, Darragh McSweeney, Cathal Hynes, Colm Heffernan, John O’Sullivan, Josh Costello.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Adam La Grue; Matthew Bowen, Colm de Buitléar, Caolan Dooley, Craig Adams; Callum Smith, Alan Bennie; Marcus Hanan, Levi Vaughan, Adam Tuite, Harrison Brewer (capt), Michael Melia, Conall Boomer, Luke Clohessy, Jordan Coghlan.
Replacements: Sean McNulty, Sam McCoy, Michael Murphy, Adam Melia, Cathal Marsh, Peter Sylvester.