CONAL Keane kicked the winning penalty deep into stoppage time as Skerries scraped a victory over a battling Sundays Well side at a wet Musgrave Park in Cork last Saturday.
The visitors should have had the points all sewn up in the first half, but in the end Keane's excellence from dead balls was required as he just managed to pop the ball between the posts from more than 40 metres out at an acute angle and from his less favoured side. As the ball landed, that heralded the referee's final whistle. Phew! The greasy conditions had a detrimental effect on handling and tackling, but Skerries started the brighter and Conal Keane knocked over a penalty after five minutes when 'The Well' dipped hands in a ruck, before he slotted another following another infringement. The first scrum, which didn't come until roughly the 20th minute, saw honours even, but Skerries were less successful at lineout time and 'The Well' out half Shane O'Riordan hit a super left-footed drop kick from fully 40 metres out to open their scoring. Then Skerries second rower Martin Provizers charged down a clearing kick in the hosts' 22 and won the race to touch down for his first-ever try. He had a super game and is developing into a real force in the side. Conal Keane added the extras to put Skerries 10-6 in front. Kevin McGrath then finished off a backs move to score beside the posts, and Conal Keane again converted to put the visitors 17-6 and coasting to halftime. However, at that point they took their foot off the pedal and the hosts rumbled a converted try to see the scoreboard indicate Sundays Well 13 Skerries 17 at the short whistle. The second half started as a mirror image to the first. The home side had Skerries on the rack for a long periods, but the defence held till the ambidextrous O'Riordan slotted another drop kick, this time with his right foot - a rear gift indeed. Sundays Well flankers Paul Graduat and James Mulcahy were very effective in the loose but were still eclipsed by the visitors' number 8 Ross McAuley who had another outstanding game. Nevertheless, O'Riordan kicked two more penalties as his side edged 19-17 ahead going into injury time. However, the hosts then offered Skerries the chance to steal the blal, which they did, as the measured Keane took all the tools out of the box in an attempt to win the game. It was a remarkable effort on his part, given how tired he must have been after 80-plus minutes on strength-sapping sod. Skerries' next assignment is on Saturday against second-placed NUIM Barnhall in Holmpatrick. That, and the two following games, Navan at home on Friday February 15th under lights and then leaders Rainey OB in Magherafelt on the 23rd, will effectively define Skerries' season.
Mikey Sherlock; David Quirke, Mark Hewitt, Conal Keane, Kevin McGrath; David Hewitt, Chris Keane; Mark Nally,, Chris Tonge, Ross McCorry; Martin Provizers, Joe Glennon; Rick O'Mahony, Kevin O'Connell, Ross McAuley. Replacements: Eamonn Harford, John Condron, Eamonn Gavin, Eoghan Dempsey, Paul Devitt.