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Cork Success Ensures Shannon’s Division 1A Status

Cork Success Ensures Shannon’s Division 1A Status

Shannon, the Ulster Bank League’s most decorated club, made certain of their Division 1A survival with a comprehensive three-try win over Munster rivals Dolphin in Cork.

Stephen Keogh's men came to Musgrave Park needing to get a result to avoid relegation or a possible play-off spot for finishing second-from-bottom in the table.

In the end, tries from David Quinlan, John Clogan and Alan Bennie steered the Limerick side to safety and an eighth place finish – much to the delight of the large band of travelling supporters.

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Dolphin, who had little to play for, were 16-0 in arrears by half-time. The early tension was broken by two drop goals and a penalty from Tadhg Bennett.

The Shannon number 10 followed up on the good work of his pack, and the visitors then struck for their first try on the stroke of half-time.

Dan Heffernan won clean lineout ball and number 8 Quinlan drove over for a a deserved try given the balance of the first 40 minutes.

Bennett slipped when he went to add the extras but his terrific touchline kick managed to split the posts and Keogh's side had a considerable cushion to take into the second period.

A long range 42nd minute penalty from Bennett's opposite number Barry Keeshan got the hosts off the mark.

But Shannon tightened their grip on the game with a 65th minute try from Clogan after a terrific counter attack sparked by Richie Mullane.

Team captain Mossie Lawler landed the conversion, and Bennie added a third try in the closing stages when pouncing on a loose ball.

On reflection it was a season that Keogh and his players will be glad to see the back of, but Shannon do have the makings of a competitive side and they will hope for improvements next season.

Try scorer Quinlan, who is bowing out of senior rugby after 14 years of service to Shannon, told the Irish Examiner: “We backed ourselves into a corner with our mid-season form, but in the last three or four weeks we've pulled it together.

“A lot of young players came in last year, we lost a couple of others and, looking back, we didn’t replace them or carry a big enough squad.

“The young fellas got a lot of responsibility they shouldn't be getting at this age. But they stood up, showed their pride in the jersey and that's how we stayed up.

“There'll be a bit of experience sticking around to help them next season, but not me, I'm done.”

Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)