Inspired pack push Nenagh to famous win

Nenagh 22 Bruff 13

Nenagh lifted the famous trophy for the fifth time and denied Bruff the glory that would have brought their achievements to unprecedented heights.

Bruff had already won the Munster Clubs Junior cup title, the Munster junior league and the round robin tournament to earn themselves a place in next season's AIB League third division.

But Nenagh were undaunted. They had their good and bad moments but found inspiration through their pack in every aspect of play, particularly in the set pieces in the second half.

Hooker Ian Ryan grabbed an astonishing hat-trick of tries to spur them on and deserved his man of the match award but, really, others were queuing up for the award.

Nenagh lost to Cork Constitution a year ago but this time the determination to put things right was always in evidence and the introduction of Alan Seymour and Pat O'Hanlon for the second half proved to be an inspirational move.

Occasionally they made life difficult for themselves but when things got sticky, they produced the goods and Bruff can have no real complaints at having lost their unbeaten record in such a crucial match.

Nenagh captain Robbie Powell was, however, magnanimous in his victory speech when he suggested Bruff had been inspirational to many junior clubs in the province: "They have been fantastic ambassadors for Munster rugby and we wish them all the best in the All Ireland league."

Limerick and Cork sides have dominated the Munster Junior Cup over 92 years but Nenagh did Tipperary proud yesterday by pushing past Dolphin, Highfield and Richmond into fifth position in the order of merit with five titles.

Nenagh undoubtedly had the better of the opening quarter and might well have taken the lead after ten minutes when referee Gerard English made one of his few mistakes.

A Bruff defender knocked on in front of his posts and the official signalled for a scrum before allowing advantage. There was hardly any as Nenagh powered forward only to concede a line out throw on the Bruff line in the very next movement.

Further frustration followed when Liam Delaney missed a penalty before Bruff out half Mike Lynch found a perfect attacking line to send John Carroll in for a try. It was Bruff's first meaningful attack of the afternoon but it was crucial and Lynch added the extra points.

Nenagh did have further opportunity courtesy of a combined raid from John Keehan, Paudie Breen and Trevor Connolly and then a further penalty attempt by Delaney but to no avail. It got worse when Delaney, a top scorer for the club this season, missed another penalty three minutes from the break, at which point Bruff still led 7-0.

But there was an explosive start to the second half with Nenagh profiting from the sin-binning of Bruff's Michael Carroll, with Ian Ryan getting in for a try after a line out and driving maul while Delaney converted magnificently from the touchline.

The full back had a further kicking opportunity but missed from 35 metres as Nenagh stepped up a gear. But they suffered a body-blow when Bruff countered and Mike Lynch, who started the move inside his own 22 finished it off when he kicked a 61st minute penalty to make it 10-7 for Bruff.

Delaney levelled with a penalty but Lynch restored Bruff's three point advantage with a further penalty.

The advantage was short lived. Nenagh had dominated Bruff up front for most of the 80 minutes and when they got a driving maul going near the line there was no stopping Ryan from going in for his second try, one brilliantly converted by Delaney for a 17-13 Nenagh advantage. The match was effectively over then, but Ryan had one last chance to make a name for himself and charged over for an 83rd minute try.

BRUFF: A. O'Brien, B. Deady, J. Carroll, S. Conway, B. Carroll, M. Lynch, B. Cahill, C. Hayes, C. O'Regan, G. Ryan, B. McMahon (captain), A. Burke, A. Goodman, M. Carroll, R. Moore. Replacements. J. O'Callaghan for Burke (33), D. Clohessy for Hayes (46)

NENAGH: L. Delaney, P. Breen, T. Connolly, J. Keehan, D. Corcoran, T. Powell, M. Fogarty, D. Ryan, I. Ryan, D. Farrell, M. Cairns, E. Ryan, J. Moylan, R. Powell (captain), D. Deere. Replacements. A. Seymour for E. Ryan, P. O'Hanlon for Farrell (both 40).

Referee: G. English (Munster).

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