Shannon shocked by Con’ comeback

Shannon 17 Cork Constitution 20

Con forced a couple of scrums on the Shannon line and at the second attempt were creeping ever closer to their target when a desperate defender threw himself at the ball, thereby leaving referee Peter Fitzgibbon with no option but to award the penalty try which Darragh Lyons converted and Con were home by 20 points to 17.

As Shannon are clear leaders of the AIB League, unbeaten after six matches, and Con slipped up the previous week against Clontarf, Mick Galwey’s men were clear favourites going into the game, but this time they were found wanting by a fired-up Con side in which number eight Frank Cogan played a true captain’s part.

Given that the crowd hardly went above about three hundred at any one time, it seems as if this new competition has yet to catch on with the public but that didn’t bother Constitution as they started the game with all guns blazing.

Out-half Darragh Lyons kicked them ahead with a penalty after five minutes and shortly afterwards they stretched their lead with a beautifully crafted try.

Scrum-half Frank Murphy broke clean through on the halfway line and, when finally challenged deep in the Shannon 22, turned to find burly prop Tom Ryan in support.

He, in turn, did extremely well to offload back to Murphy in the tackle and he went in at the posts for a try that Lyons converted to put Con 10-0 ahead.

Constitution remained full of running and ideas and a break by skipper Frank Cogan on 25 minutes carried on by Cronan Healy could have led to try number two but Mossie Lawler positioned himself perfectly to cut off the latter’s attempted kick through.

Shannon settled as the first half went on and Con were frequently fully extended to withstand assaults, invariably led by back-row forwards Stephen Keogh and Eddie Halvey. However, the best they could manage before the break was a 35-metre penalty by David Delaney on 38 minutes to which Lyons replied immediately with a penalty of his own from 25 metres, to leave Con ten points to the good at the break.

Battle was really joined immediately after half time when Delaney knocked over two penalties but Con proved they were up for this big time when they gave Shannon a taste of their own medicine by mauling the home side back some 25 metres.

With their forwards contained, Shannon were forced to spread the ball wide whenever the opportunity presented itself but the combination of a solid, well organised Con defence and a slippery ball made their task increasingly difficult.

However, everything seemed to change on 67 minutes when Con prop Mike Ross was sin binned for a professional foul. Shannon kicked for the corner and after Anton Meaney was held out at the first attempt, Eddie Halvey crashed over from a scrum to put his side ahead by 14-13.

Shannon now had their tails up and Delaney’s fourth penalty, this time a fine effort from 45 metres, pushed them four points clear with five minutes to go. However, with Ross restored to the action, Con piled on the pressure and were rewarded for their resolution with that stoppage time penalty try.

Their celebrations at the end demonstrated how much the victory meant to them and will help to make for a particularly enjoyable Christmas.

SHANNON: M. Lawler; B. Tuohy, I. Dowling, F. McLoughlin, D. O'Donovan; D. Delaney, F. McNamara; L. Hogan, F. Roche, T. Buckley, T. Hogan, D. Ryan, A. Meaney, E. Halvey capt, S. Keogh. Replacements, A. Thompson for McLoughlin half time; C. O'Loughlin for F. McNamara and G. McNamara for Buckley 85 mins.

CORK CONSTITUTION: C. O'Sullivan; R. Lane, T. Gleeson, A. O'Brien, C. Healy; D. Lyons, F. Murphy; T. Ryan, D. Fogarty, M. Ross, S. Cottrell, S. O'Connor, B. Cuttriss, B. O'Connor, F. Cogan capt. Replacements, G. Murray for Cuttriss 69; J. Maloney for Cottrell 72; M. O'Connell for Murray 76.

Referee: P. Fitzgibbon (Munster).

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