Con make light of Munster call-ups
Cork Con 26
AIL div 1a
SHANNON regained some self-respect in a hard-fought clash with the league leaders at Coonagh on Saturday.
In normal circumstances, any defeat, particularly at home, is a major disappointment for Shannon. But these are far from normal circumstances, following last week's record 53-point drubbing by St Mary's.
So to recover from an early 13-0 deficit, outscore their rivals by three tries to two, and end the game by securing a losing bonus point in injury-time represented an important step forward for Shannon.
That said, how they must envy the way that Cork Con have started their campaign.
The title-holders have won all of their four opening games and are four points clear of their nearest rivals Old Belvedere.
Somehow, they have found a way of overcoming the loss of players to Munster.
No fewer than nine Cork Con menwere involved for their province, either on the starting line-up or on the bench, against Ulster on Friday night.
Just three of those -- Simon Zebo in the centre and props Daragh Hurley and Stephen Archer -- were available to Con on Saturday. As a consequence, the visitors produced one of their more disjointed performances.
But this, surely, is not going to worry coach Brian Walsh too much as his team has long since developed the habit of winning when they are not at their best.
Importantly, Cork Con continue to produce fresh young talent.
Centre Cyrian Jouve is the latest example. The 20-year-old from Tralee, who has a French father and a Kerry mother, caused Shannon considerable problems.
Unfortunately he had to retire injured 10 minutes into the second half, but not before he had scored a crucial try.
The difficulty for Cork Con was that Shannon were never going to lie down. But there was a similarity to the St Mary's game in that Shannon again got away to a disastrous start.
Cork Con wing Richie Lane was responsible for all of the damage, scoring an intercept try from half-way, converting it, and landing two penalties.
Cork Con were still 13 points clear at 16-3 early in the second half, with Shannon out-half Tadhg Bennett and Lane exchanging penalties.
It was only after Shannon had centre John Clogan yellow-carded that the game really took off.
Despite the loss of Clogan, Shannon responded with a well-taken try from Galway Gaelic football star Sean Armstrong which Bennett converted. They then managed another try through Mossie Lawler but, in between, Jouve had crossed for Con.
Lane's conversion, and a further penalty, left Cork Con 26-15 ahead and meant the wing had contributed 21 points.
So, for all their effort, Shannon looked like coming away with nothing.
But that outlook changed in the fourth minute of injury-time when No 8 David Quinlan's try earned the home side a well-deserved bonus point.
Shannon -- D O'Donovan; R Mullane, M Lawler, J Clogan, S Armstrong; T Bennett, R Guerin (P Rowley 53); K O'Neill (G McNamara 49), D Casey (J Cronin 65), K Griffin (D Casey 65), D Heffernan, F Walsh (capt), L Mullane (C McMahon 57), P Butler, D Quinlan.
Cork Con -- S Scanlon; R Lane, S Zebo, C Jouve (T Kennelly 50), C Healy; D Lyons, A Ryan; D Hurley (M Gately 82), R Quinn (M O'Leary 57), S Archer, D O'Mahony (R Gee 57) B Hayes, J McSwiney, T Dukelow, F Cogan (capt).
Ref -- P Haycock.