Tuesday 18 June 2019

Mallow edge out Clanwilliam

Mallow's Tadgh O'Connor is stopped in his tracks by the combined tackle from two Clanwilliam players as the sides met in the Junior Clubs Challenge Shield last weekend. Photo: Eric Barry
Mallow's Tadgh O'Connor is stopped in his tracks by the combined tackle from two Clanwilliam players as the sides met in the Junior Clubs Challenge Shield last weekend. Photo: Eric Barry

Diarmuid Sheehan

Munster Junior Shield: Things have been difficult for north Cork sides in the Munster Junior leagues so far this season with the majority of the teams failing to live up to pre-season optimism.

Mallow 17 Clanwilliam 15

Having said all that, the fortunes of any club can change on any given day as junior rugby is as much about belief, momentum and confidence as it is about skill. Case in point was last Saturday afternoon's brilliant 17-15 win by Mallow over Clanwilliam in the semi-final of the Munster Junior club's Challenge Shield.

Mallow came into this game with a mixture of impressive and not so impressive displays under their belt - displays that have left them mid table in the J2. Clanwilliam on the other hand, had a much more impressive recent pedigree as they sit second in the same division, seven points ahead of Saturday's hosts.

The sides had already met this season with the Tipperary outfit taking the league spoils on that occasion so it was clear that Mallow would have it all to do if they were to book a place in the final two of this prestigious competition.

As seems to be Mallow's way, they pulled this win off the hard way, spending half of the game reduced to 14 men thanks to no less than four players receiving yellow cards during the allotted 80 minutes.

Despite this lack of discipline, the boys in green showed they are a side to be reckoned with at this level as they went about ending the Tipp side's interest in this competition.

Andy Cashman set Mallow on their way early on with a try on three minutes, which was converted by Michael O'Flynn. The visitors hit back soon after with a converted try of their own before some indiscipline in the home side's ranks meant an easy penalty for the pre-game favourites.

Mallow hit back with aggression and pace and showed they are not afraid to mix up their tactics as they went over for their second try thanks to brilliant forward play from their impressive pack.

Again, Flynn converted, however Clanwilliam showed their class and took back the lead with yet another converted try. Mallow had to dig deep from here on in and were rewarded with an O'Flynn penalty that ultimately was enough to take the win by 17-15 and secure a final place against the most impressive side in junior rugby right now (Bandon).

Down in another part of Cork, Midleton entertained Kanturk in the All Ireland Senior League.

Kanturk have put in some terrific shifts of late in the Division 2B, however, they seem to be coming up a little short away from home so last Saturday was yet another chance to get some valuable league points on the board.

As is their way, the visitors gave another magnificent display against their more established opponents, however the north Cork side ultimately failed to take the win after Midleton reeled them in late on to secure the four points, 18-16.

Kealon Buckley was the only try scorer for Kanturk with Paul O'Keeffe adding the extra points as well as bagging three penalties.

Despite this the home side took the spoils after tries from Dave Smyth and Aidan McCarthy and two penalties and a conversion from Paul Daly saw Midleton take the win by two points and move up to sixth in the table.

While the loss will be a bitter pill to swallow at Knocknacolan, the losing bonus point garnered is another small step towards safety, which is surely the main goal for this first season as a senior club.