Con hold nerve to claim Munster glory

Cork Constitution made amends for last season’s defeat by Cashel in the final of the Munster Junior Cup with a deserved victory at Musgrave Park.

This was the Temple Hill side’s 18th victory in the competition while the West Cork side were playing in their first final. It was Con’s experience that won this contest while some poor tackling at crucial times by Skibbereen proved costly.

Playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the opening half, Skibbereen went on the attack from the off and their pack were posing problems for Con in the scrums, but for all their early pressure, they were unable to put points on the board.

Con eventually lifted the siege and in their first attack in Skibbereen territory a lineout won by Yasin Browne saw the ball spread wide and both Eoin O’Donnell and Alan Ross came close to scoring but a pass by Shane Kelly to Sean Óg Murphy saw the out-half touchdown, and he also converted for a 7-0 lead.

Con continued to dominate and it was only when skipper Peter O’Sullivan was shown a yellow card that Skibbereen got back into the contest, with David Shannon landing a 45m penalty eight minutes before the break.

Facing into the wind in the second half, the introduction of prop Sean O’Neill lifted the West Cork side as he made some telling bursts, none more so then early in the second half as he picked the ball up inside his own 22 and ran 50m before kicking the ball deep into the Con 22. Skibbereen kept up the pressure but Shannon failed to reach the target with a 30m penalty from the sideline.

Sean Óg Murphy who was Con’s man of the match extended their advantage to 10 points with two penalties on 52 and 59 minutes.

Many expected that this would end the Skibbereen challenge but to their credit their pack kept battling away and 16 minutes from time they got their reward when, after several drives by the pack at the Con line, Sean O’Neill barged over and Shannon converted, to leave three between them. Con’s experience told in the final 15 minutes, as they kept Skibb pinned back for the remainder of the game.

CORK CONSTITUTION: D O’Shea; E O’Donnell, C Desmond, P O’Sullivan, S Kelly, S Óg Murphy, A Ryan; G Murray, K Stokes, R Hassan; D O’Brien, Y Browne; B Vaughan, A White, A Ross.

Replacements: C Corkery, B Cagney, R Gee, M Ross, A Kelleher.

SKIBBEREEN: D Shannon; M Limerick, D O’Keeffe, N Hurley, A Dodd; P Mihaere, J O’Sullivan; P Stout, D Jennings, V White; C Hurley (capt), M Calnan; I Hurley, D Coppinger, K Shannon.

Replacements: D McCarthy, S O’Neill, B O’Donovan, G Hurley, I Jennings.

Referee: K Barry (MAR).

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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