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Player-Coach Murphy Has The Final Say For Naas
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Player-Coach Murphy Has The Final Say For Naas

Player-Coach Murphy Has The Final Say For Naas

Shannon remain rooted to the bottom of the Division 1B table after tumbling to a four-point home defeat at the hands of Naas on Saturday.

Naas player-coach Johne Murphy got over in the corner for the vital 71st minute try, moving his side up to sixth in the standings after their second win in four games.

Winless Shannon did enjoy a brilliant start on Thomond Park's back pitch, their second row and captain Lee Nicholas breaking through for a try after barely a minute.

Naas were slight favourities for this contest but were to be caught cold in the early exchanges. Shannon came out with a statement of intent and before the visitors had even settled down, they were under their own goalposts.

A series of quick passes gave Shannon a big overlap on the right and Nicholas was in for a try that was easily converted by out-half Ronan McKenna.

The story of the rest of the half is easily told. Both sides struggled to create many chances and did a good job of cancelling each other out.

The only real scoring chance came after 22 minutes. Naas were awarded a 35-metres penalty, but were unfortunate to see the kick by goal-kicking scrum half Peter Osborne strike the post.

However, the ball was subsequently knocked on by the Shannon defence, giving Naas a five-metre scrum and a great attacking position. Shannon head coach Marcus Horan would have been pleased to see his side force a scrum infringement from the Naas pack and win a relieving penalty.

So, the Limerick men were still seven points to the good at half-time, their hard-working pack containing Munster front row signing John Andress and Munster Academy number 8 John Foley.

Notably, it was Murphy's charges burst out the blocks on the restart, with right winger Rob O'Connor streaking clear for a 41st minute try. After a fantastic free-flowing move, O'Connor managed to evade some despairing tackles to cross the Shannon line. A superb conversion from the left by Osborne levelled the sides at seven points apiece.

The game returned to the pattern of the first half until two quick-fire scores around the 70-minute mark decided the outcome. Firstly, Shannon nosed back in front at 10-7 when McKenna coolly slotted a penalty.

Then, almost straight from the restart, came the decisive score which ultimately gained a hard-fought victory for Naas. Replacement Cillian Dempsey did superbly to block down a Shannon clearance and in a blink of an eye, Murphy (a former Munster team-mate of Horan's) was over for a try.

The 31-year-old centre has graced Thomond Park on many an occasion but in the eyes of the away supporters, he will never have scored a more important try at the Limerick venue. An excellent conversion followed from Osborne, an important strike which left Shannon scrambling for a late try which never came.

Last week Naas lost to Buccanners when leading with only a few minutes to go. Although Shannon tried hard to snatch the win here, Murphy's charges had learned from their mistakes and saw out the final stages comfortably enough to gain a confidence-boosting result on the road.

Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Darren Gavin; Nathan Randles, Rob Deegan, Will Leonard, Shane Mullally; Ronan McKenna, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Ty Chan, John Andress, Riley Winter, Lee Nicholas (capt), Brian Downey, James Vaughan, John Foley.

Replacements: Niall Mulcahy, Conor Beary, Paddy Kearns, Ed Barry, Fionn McGibney.

Away Team

Fionn Carr; Rob O'Connor, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Andrew Shanahan; Michael Skelton, Peter Osborne; Dan O'Byrne, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Warren Larkin, Will O'Brien (capt), Eoin Walsh.

Replacements: Conor Johnson, Jason Harney, Cillian Dempsey, Andrew Kearney, Max Whittingham.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Lee Nicholas; Con: Ronan McKenna; Pen: Ronan McKenna

Away Team

Tries: Rob O'Connor, Johne Murphy; Cons: Peter Osborne 2