Old Crescent RFC Senior Team that played City of Armagh RFC in UBL Division 2B Play-off Final, 29 April 2017. Back row, l-r, Shane Murphy, Seaghan Gleeson, Paudie Monaghan, Brendan Guilfoyle, Kevin Doyle, Darragh O’Brien, Sean Monaghan, Brian Touhy. Front row, l-r, Jack O’Neill, Cathal Monaghan, Gareth Quinn McDonagh, Paul McNamara, Larry Hanly, Shane O’Brien, Val McDermott.
Old Crescent headed north once again last Saturday for our final and most important game of the season, the UBL Division 2B Promotion Play-off Final against City of Armagh. It was gratifying to see so many Old Crescent supporters make the journey north including a bus load of supporters from Limerick.
Having left a cold and damp Limerick early on Saturday morning, we arrived to a warm sunny day in the orchard county and a very busy club grounds with Armagh hosting the biggest annual mini rugby blitz in Ulster on the morning of our Play-off Final.
Both teams started in determined fashion and the game was evenly contested for the first quarter of an hour before Armagh were first to score with a converted penalty. They followed this up with an unconverted try on 24 minutes, and extended their lead further with a converted penalty five minutes before the break.
Old Crescent finally got on the scoreboard just before the break when Shane O’Brien was successful with a penalty attempt. Half time score, City of Armagh 11 Old Crescent 3.
Crescent had the benefit of a strong breeze in the first half but were unable to capitalise on it and now faced an up hill battle in the second half. Our cause wasn’t helped by another successful penalty attempt for Armagh eight minutes after the break.
We had our best passage of play midway through they second half when a series of attacked took us to the Armagh five metre line from where Brendan Guilfoyle crashed over for a try which Shane O’Brien converted to narrow the gap to four points.
The turning point of the game came shortly after when we were again on the attack deep in the Armagh half. We won a line out on the Armagh five metre line and our pack were mauling the ball relentlessly towards the Armagh try line when we were unluckily penalised which enabled Armagh to relive the pressure with a long kick down field.
Had we scored then, the game might have had a different outcome, but the game was put beyond reach a few minutes later when an Armagh winger broke through to score unhindered under our posts. Armagh added the easy conversion to stretch their lead to 21 points to 10 with a quarter of an hour remaining. Try as we might we were unable to add to our points and Armagh played territory to keep us away from their line until the end. Final score, City of Armagh 21 Old Crescent 10.
While it was disappointing to miss out on promotion, our senior squad can be very proud of their achievements this season having come within an ace of going up through an UBL Division in one season. Congratulations to all our senior players and coaches for your hard work in giving us such a magnificent season, the groundwork has certainly been laid for a successful promotion push next season.
Meanwhile our Under Age teams have been very busy at the business end of their season. Our Under 18’s lost to Garryowen in the North Munster Open Under 18 Cup in Rosbrien last Wednesday evening. On the same night, Old Crescent Under 13’s took on Bruff in the North Munster Under 13 Cup in Annacotty. Having lost to Bruff in the League, our Under 13’s were relishing the opportunity to have another crack at their rivals. Bruff got off to the better start and within five minutes we were trailing 10 to nil after they scored a penalty and a converted try.
For the next 45 minutes spectators were treated to a phenomenal game of rugby that had everything and more from both teams. During that period, we scored two unconverted tries to level the game. However, we lost key players in key positions namely our Captain, Oisin Toland, followed by Cathal Roche then Max Duggan followed by Darren Cross and Jack Somers.
Our subs stood up to the plate and indeed all the players who played gave it their all. With seconds left on the clock we were awarded a penalty 20 yards out. Up stands Stephen Kiely to take the kick, you could hear a pin drop as he addressed the ball .He kicked the ball and over it went. The referee blew the final whistle which was drowned out by the roars of excitement from the Old Crescent camp. Our victorious young squad returned to the Old Crescent clubhouse to celebrate with pizza and refreshments kindly supplied by Liam and Eileen.
Finally, congratulations to our Under 16s who won the North Munster Open Under 16 Cup with a 12-5 victory over Young Munster in Rosbrien last Sunday morning.