Old Crescent RFC Under 17/18 Team – Winners of Rugby Youth Festival Portugal, Lisbon, 9 April 2017. Back Row, l-r, Colm Kenny, Cian Cusack, Mark McMahon, Mark Hickey, Ronan Reynolds, Rory McNamara, Cillian Toland, Eoghan Herdman, Enda Roche, Ronan Gallery, Ben Carew, Brian McCarthy, Luke O’Riordan. Front Row, l-r, Robert Holmes, Brian Naughton, Mark McCrann, Luke Callanan, Wiktor Novak, Eoin Murphy, Timothy Duggan, Ciaran O’Shea, Maccon Casserly, William Campbell. Missing due to injury: Oisin Evans, Maurice Smith, Paul Buston, Ronan Keavney, Brian Naughton, Jim Fehily.

There was a large turnout in Rosbrien last Saturday on a beautiful sunny afternoon in support of our senior team in their final home Ulster Bank League game of the season. Our visitors were MU Barnhall who were just one place behind us in the League table.  A win would secure our place in the play-off’s for promotion to Division 1A.


Crescent had the benefit of a strong breeze blowing towards the city in the first half, and we were quick to make use of it when Barry Neville slotted a penalty from the half way line after only four minutes of play.  Indeed, Barry was just short a few minutes later with an even more ambitious attempt from our own 10 metre line.


We continued to take the game to Barnhall and our pressure resulted in first try of the game scored by Gareth Quinn McDonagh.  The conversion was added by Shane O’Brien to us 10 points clear.  We followed that up a few minutes later when Val McDermott evaded several tackles close to the touch line to round the cover and touch down under the posts.  Shane again added the conversion and we not led by 17 points to nil with less than 15 minutes gone.


MU Barnall managed to stem the flood a few minutes later with an unconverted try but coming up to the half hour Val McDermott again managed to create a scoring opportunity out of nothing and touch down in the corner.  The converted was missed.


The Crescent pressure was relentless at this stage and Barnhall were firmly on the back foot.  With ten minutes remaining in the first half, Paul McNamara won a kick chase to the Barnhall line to touch down in the corner for our 4th bonus point try.  The difficult conversion was missed but we now led by 27 points to 5.


Even with four tries on the board, our senior side showed no sign of taking the foot off the gas, and we scored two more tries in the remaining minutes of the first half.  Gareth Quinn McDonagh touched down for his second try, and our pack mauled over the Barnhall line for our sixth try. It was hard to see who touched down for Crescent under the pile of bodies but we will credit it to Shane Murphy who put a magnificent performance in the front row after getting a late call up.  The conversions were missed leaving the half time score, Old Crescent 37 MU Barnhall 5.


Barnhall now had the benefit of the strong breeze and they put it to good use to score a converted try ten minutes into the second half.  However, they then went down a man for the remainder of the game due to a player receiving a red card for a stamp


With just over an hour gone, Val McDermott again bewildered the Barnhall defence to jink his way through them and score his hat trick try. Shane added the conversion and we now led by 44 points to 12.


A big lead going into the last 15 minutes of the game may have led to some relaxation on the Crescent side which resulted in Barnhall going in for three converted tries in the last ten minutes, giving them the consolation of a try bonus point.  However, any suggestion of a Barnhall comeback was snuffed out with our 8th try of the game scored by Seaghan Gleeson and converted by Shane O’Brien, to leave the final score, Old Crescent 51 MU Barnhall 33.


With our place in the play-off’s secured, focus will now turn to our final UBL game of the season away to division leaders Greystones in Co Wicklow on Easter Saturday.


Our Under Age players are very busy these days with our Under 15’s and Under 18’s taking part in an international youth rugby tournament in Lisbon last weekend.  Our Under 178/18’s were successful in winning the prestigious Portugal Rugby Youth Festival Under 17/18 tournament, winning five out of five hotly contested matches in the preliminary rounds before beating CF Belenenses from Portugal 13-10 in sudden death extra time in the final. 24 teams from England, Wales, Australia, Spain, Ireland, and of course Portugal, competed in this age group.


The tournament took place in temperatures in the high 20’s. Our Under 17/18’s won their two pool matches 28 nil and 10 nil respectively. They then went to beat a Spanish team 28-05 on astro turf to reach the quarter final stage. On the second day, the competition moved to knock out rugby.

Old Crescent won a fiercely contested quarter final by five points to nil.


The intensity and competitiveness of the tournament, and the weather conditions, were taking a toll on all teams. Old Crescent faced one of the top teams in Portugal, CDUL, in the semi-final. The Limerick lads came out of the blocks early with two quick tries to go on to win the match 12 nil and qualify for the final. The other finalist and favourites to win the tournament was a team from Lisbon called CF Belenenses.


The final kicked off in front of a large crowd in Lisbon University Stadium on a hard grass pitch in very hot weather conditions. Both teams displayed high levels of skill and physicality. After fierce opening exchanges between the two teams the home side scored a long-range penalty to go 3 nil up. This was the score at half-time. In the second half, Old Crescent started with a period of dominance that resulted in a converted try that put them 7-3 ahead.


Four minutes from time CF Belenenses hit back with a converted try to lead 10-7. The home crowd went ballistic. However, Old Crescent exerted serious pressure to earn a kickable penalty in the last minute of normal time. We converted this to draw the game 10 all. The match went to sudden death extra time. The Limerick boys continued to dominate and won the game and the competition with a penalty under the posts.


The Portugal Rugby Youth Festival is one of the best and biggest events for youth rugby in Europe. This festival welcomes some of the best rugby clubs from across Europe and it hosts around 300 games during the weekend. About 2,000 young players are distributed over 80 teams in four different age groups (from U/13 to U/19).  Our Under 14/15’s also took part in the tournament and they won the plate competition in their age category.


Meanwhile back at home, Old Crescent were delighted to welcome 120 children to play in our U10 Blitz last Sunday. We hosted teams from Copsewood Gaels, Scariff, Newcastlewest and our neighbours from Young Munster.


The children were all very excited to play on the club’s main pitch with its wonderful surface to showcase their skills and speed! The glorious weather meant it was a very enjoyable experience for all the players, coaches and parents.


There was a great atmosphere throughout the morning with some very competitive matches taking place  We know that it’s all about participation at this age but it was great that Old Crescent’s U10 team went unbeaten! Finally, thanks to Liam and Eileen in the clubhouse for looking after all our visitors so well today. It’s always nice to know our guests have left the club with such a positive and friendly experience.


Old Crescent Under 8’s fielded two teams in a Blitz in Tulla with hosts East Clare Eagles, Nenagh and Kilrush, last weekend. The previous weekend saw the boys play in Killaloe and next weekend they will host Newcastle West prior to the Munster v Ulster Pro 12 game. Budding players involved Cian Robertson, Bobby O’Riordan, Jonathon Fitzgibbon, Andrew Johnson, George Morel, Morgan, Leahy, Daire Collins, and Patrick Concannon. Our Under 8’s train every Sunday at 10.00am in Rosbrien and new players are always welcome.


Fixtures next weekend.  Our First team travel to Greystones RFc for our final UBL game of the season which kicks off at 2.30pm next Saturday.  We hope for a good turn out of supporters for our final regular UBL game of the season, before we go into the play-off’s!


Anyone not going to Greystones for the senior game should go to the Shannon RFC grounds in Coonagh at 2.30pm next Saturday where our Thirds take on the home side in the semi final of the Webb Cup.