AFTER Mr. G. Conway presided over a minutes silence to mark the passing, last Wednesday night, of his Leinster Branch referee colleague Paul Cusack, the visitors, started in somber yet very generous mood.
Barely five minutes had elapsed when Skerries waved Lemeki Viapulu in, out wide, for an unconverted try and some four minutes later the home sides' no. 10 Dan Fogarty missed a penalty opportunity to go further ahead.
Conal Keane, the Skerries out-half, opened his side's scoring (he scored all Skerries points) with a penalty with 15 minutes on the clock, but in soft going under a bright, low winter sun The visitors found the going tough all afternoon. To make matters worse, the Fingal outfit lost scrum-half Chris Keane, initially to a blood substitution, but he remained off for the duration of the game. The combative home side lost two players in short order through yellow card offences (they shipped four such losses ito the visitors one) just after Fogarty slotted a penalty to make the score 8-3. As a result of these two yellow cards Conal Keane added six penalty points to give the visitors a one-point lead, but Skerries failed to penetrate the Nenagh defense and cross the line despite the two man advantage.
The Tipperary squad lorded the line-out and in fact Skerries lost their yellow card man for a breach at line-out time. Fogarty added a penalty before the break giving Nenagh a two-point interval lead, 11-9. The second half saw the visitors gain the upper-hand in territory and possession terms and Keane regained their lead with a penalty following the third sin binning offence by the hosts.
Although Skerries, again with a man advantage, pressed hard they failed to make it count. When restored to 15, Nenagh struck for their second try, after the visitors' fullback Mikey Sherlock was replaced through injury. A slick backs move put fullback Steven Carey in, with 12 minutes to go, for what proved to be the winning score. The drama continued for the home team and support though.
For the last three minutes, plus four added, Skerries, camped within the Nenagh 22m and try line, and were awarded five penalties in succession for persistent home side infringements. Skerries admirably declining to take the penalty kick in favour of tap and go efforts to win and the Munstermen lost a fourth man to the bin during this siege, but somehow managed to hold out.
SKERRIES: Mark Nally, Chris Tonge, John Condron, Rick O'Mahony, Joe Glennon (capt.), Thomas O'Hare, Kevin O'Connell, Ross McAuley, Chris Keane, Conal Keane, Kevin McGrath, Ross Dempsey, Mark Hewitt, David Quirke,Mikey Sherlock. Repl: Ross McCorry, Sam Howard, Ronan Connolly, Eoin Dempsey, David Lee.