Tralee get off to a flying start

Bank of Ireland Munster Junior Cup: Tralee 40 Dungarvan 17

Tralee’s Martin Stack in action against Dungarvan in O’Dowd Park last weekend. Photo by Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus
Tralee’s Martin Stack in action against Dungarvan in O’Dowd Park last weekend. Photo by Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Tralee got their Munster Junior Cup campaign off to the best possible start when they ran in six tries past a limited, but very spirited Dungarvan side at O'Dowd Park last Sunday.

The match was played on the high pitch which meant that there was a strong wind blowing straight down the field, although conditions were perfect for rugby otherwise.

The Tralee faithful expected a very tight contest as Dungarvan are currently in fourth place in the J3 league table, but the home side showed why they are riding high in first position with a confident and assured performance that Dungarvan couldn't match.

At times some of the Tralee handling and support play was of the top drawer variety, and Dungarvan didn't have the pace or ability to match their opponents' endeavour.

Dungarvan's cause wasn't helped by the fact that they travelled with just 16 players, although they did show a spirit to keep plugging away even when their cause was lost.

The Christmas celebrations seemed to be taking their toll on Tralee early on in the game and, with the wind at their backs, Dungarvan soon took a 3-0 lead thanks to a penalty from the boot of David Hickey.

Eoin O'Carroll's sense of adventure and dancing feet promised better times for Tralee. Dungarvan continued to use the wind to their advantage however, but Tralee defended well when they needed to. They needed a moment of inspiration to settle them, and it came in the 25th minute when O'Carroll gathered the ball deep inside his own half and showed a clean pair of heels to scorch past the Dungarvan defenders for a great try, which Jack Quilter converted.

Tralee began to assert their dominance in the scrums forcing Dungarvan into a change in their front row. Their replacement made little difference, and after a penalty yielded a good line out, the ball was spread quickly across the back line before Shane Sullivan touched down for a superb try.

Touchdown number three came four minutes later when Nessan Crean finished of some more slick handling by the backs, and with the conversion successfully slotted over, Tralee led by 19-3.

Dungarvan refused to wilt and scored soon afterwards following a back row move from the base of a scrum. There was still time for more drama in the first half, and just before the whistle, Fearghail O Nuallain scored after he was put through by a lovely kick from Jack Quilter, to see Tralee lead by 26-10 at the half time break.

Tralee continued to play the more enterprising rugby in the second half and some quick handling saw Nessan Crean go over for his second try of the game. Tralee lost Gavin Peevers to the sin bin after a high tackle, and for the next 10 minutes Dungarvan proceeded to dominate proceedings.

Their pressure eventually paid off when a penalty was dispatched deep into Tralee territory and hooker Douglas Petit showed some silky skills to dummy his Tralee opponents for a good try.

Dungarvan centre Alan McMahon was continuing to cause Tralee problems, but some excellent cover defence kept the Waterford side out. The final nail in Dungarvan's coffin came in the 68th minute of the game when the flying Fearhail O Nuallain intercepted an attempted Dungarvan pass in his own 22 and sprinted the length of the field to score, to the delight of the Tralee supporters.