And so to the final game of the season for the Old Crescent RFC Under 20 squad – one that started last September with a resurrected Under 20 side that in the interim has won the North Munster Under 20 League and the Donal Walsh Plate in the South West division of the All Ireland League – could we add the North Munster Under 20 Cup, to do the double against a Young Munster side that is amongst the strongest Under 20 side to emerge in Limerick in recent years and is littered with representative players?
On the back pitch in Thomond Park, on a night not made for attractive rugby, both sides served up an epic game, with both teams giving everything in attack and defence for the full eighty minutes, with the game in the balance throughout. Old Crescent were missing two players with head injuries sustained in the semi final, which might have been a slight handicap, although our starting XV was still a very strong side, but we were deal a cruel blow within minutes of the start with the loss of our very talented scrum half Rory Cunningham with a recurring shoulder injury.
Young Munster started the game at a ferocious pace and this set the tone for their game plan for much of the game – with terrific line speed being shown by their back line and their forwards committing numbers to the ruck and maul, driving Old Crescent back and securing the first scoring opportunity of the game within 10 minutes, with a penalty which was missed, only for the continued pressure, to provide another opportunity on 15 minutes which this time was converted.
Straight from the restart, Old Crescent went deep into opposition territory and created a scoring opportunity which Conor Lenihan converted to level the scores at 3-3. Both sides continued to give everything. Old Crescent were unlucky to suffer a somewhat harsh sin-binning on 25 minutes and at the same time also yield a very kickable opportunity, which somewhat fortuitously slid to the left and wide. Young Munster had their own misfortune shortly afterwards with the loss of their open side wing forward through injury and on 30 minutes we then had a very kickable opportunity which was also missed.
For the remainder of the first half, Young Munster threw everything at us but our defence remained calm and solid and although we yielded territory and possession, our line was not under constant threat as we gave as good as we got in the contact zone, to provide as good a defensive display as this team has provided all season. 3 all at half time may have been flattering, but only slightly. We certainly upped our game at the start of the second half and within minutes a penalty kick by us appeared to be on target only to fall short and allow Young Munster to clear their lines.
Further opportunities would come our way, but none of them easy, with the poor light, the distance of the kicks or just the pressure that a cup final brings, with the next kick being pulled slightly left. After fifteen minutes of the second half, in which we had done most of the pressing, Young Munster then suffered a yellow card for persistent fouling and with that another kick drifted wide on the right. Young Munster’s relentless line speed, pace and commitment in defence meant that they hardly noticed the loss of a man as we struggled to create space or a foothold and Young Munster then got the first score of the second half with a penalty after 25 minutes, and with another to follow on 30 minutes they opened a 9-3 lead.
As we chased the game, we were unable to unlock the Young Munster defence and at the death Val McDermott almost got around on the outside only to run out of room and with that time was up, with a final score of 9-3. This Old Crescent team has come a long way from a slow start to the season and to hold this very fine Young Munster side try less and indeed to have plenty of opportunities themselves is a credit to how hard they worked during the game.
Old Crescent RFC Under 20 team v Young Munster: 1. Mark Rickard, 2. Robbie Sweeney, 3. Liam McMahon, 4. Cian Reale, 5. Joe Doyle, 6. Conor Humphries, 7. Sean Fitzgerald, 8. Jack O’Neill (Captain), 9. Rory Cunningham, 10. Val McDermott, 11, Jack Hogan, 12. Andrew Harrison, 13. Paul McNamara, 14. Ciaran Cusack, 15. Conor Lenihan, 16. Ian Clein, 17. Sean Naughton, 18. Robbie Scott, 19. Geoffrey Coyne, 20. Cian Malone, 21. Tim Moloney, 22. Andrew Corrigan.
Congratulations to this season’s Under 20 playing squad, their head coach Eugene McGovern and their other coaches and mentors. We look forward to seeing you all in the Old Crescent jersey again next season, to build further on this magnificent season. To those of you with exams, we wish you the very best of luck and more.
Old Crescent’s Andy Brace won the Referee of the Year Award at the Munster Rugby Awards Ceremony last week. As well as officiating in the AIL this season, Andy has taken charge of a number of British & Irish Cup fixtures, including a quarter-final and the final between Worcester Warriors and Doncaster Knights earlier this month. The Welsh native played his club rugby with Old Crescent RFC and works as a Community Rugby Officer for Limerick and Tipperary. Andy also refereed the U20’s 6 Nations clash between England and Scotland and has been touch judge in the PRO12 and European Challenge Cup. Congratulations, Andy, on this well deserved honour from all in Old Crescent RFC.
The rescheduled Old Crescent RFC President’s and Awards Night will now take place on Friday, 15th May, at 8pm in the Clubhouse in Rosbrien. Tickets are €20 each and there will be a Monster BBQ with a pig on a spit, plus a live band and DJ till late. Some tickets are still available from Anthony O’Dwyer at 087-2214140. Tickets for the original date are of course still valid.
A reminder that the Annual General Meeting of Old Crescent R.F.C. will be held in the Clubhouse on Wednesday 20th May 2015 at 8.00pm. Notices of motion must be given in writing to the Secretary on or before Monday, 11th of May 2015.