Nenagh’s vastly experienced winger, ex-Shannon and Munster flanker, Colm McMahon was gutted at the end of an intense encounter during which his side stood up and, for long periods, matched the runaway leaders of this third division.
Yet, it mattered little that the Tipperary side gave as good as they got. A disappointed McMahon eyed the scoreboard and said: “That’s what counts, it’s not easy to accept but there’s the evidence.”
Silverware, McMahon emphasised, is all that counts, particularly since Nenagh don’t even have the consolation of promotion. “Effectively, we were playing only for a trophy because we weren’t one of the two teams to win promotion. It was the first final at senior level for the club and it meant a lot to everyone, but it was not to be. Losing is bad enough, but losing the way we lost is even tougher,” he said.
And it was tough, particularly since one lapse in Nenagh’s strong scrum cost them the game when Queens turned over possession near the end. It was to lead to the match-winning try that was brilliantly executed.
Queens hit the front midway through the first half, courtesy of a remarkable interception by Matthew Pyper as he stormed through to score.
Nenagh were unfazed though; if anything the score spurred them and they forced the students into conceding a succession of penalties, with Dave Delaney opting to kick at goal from two. He missed the first in the 23rd minute but made no mistake second time around. It got better when second row Dave Walsh scored a remarkable try after 32 minutes. Delaney opted to kick for goal from wide out and though his effort dropped wide, Walsh was the most alert and charged through for the try that Delaney converted for a 10-5 half time lead.
Queens grabbed the initiative again 12 minutes into the second half when prop forward Mark Sampson scrambled over for a try that Ian Porter converted, but Nenagh responded immediately. James Kingston raced 40 metres only be hauled back short of the line before Delaney kicked his side into a 13-12 lead. Nenagh went in search of more and Delaney added another penalty on the three quarter stage.
On another day that might have been enough, but Queens launched everything into a furious late assault and got the crucial try a minute into injury time when Chris Quinn was sent into space to score.
The last chance fell to Nenagh in the closing seconds but Delaney’s speculative drop goal hardly got off the ground, hit the butt of the upright and the ball was cleared out of play to finish an absorbing tussle.
QUEENS: D. McIllwaine, C. Quinn, M. Hooks, J. Reekie, M. Arneill, M. Pyper, I. Porter, P. Karayiannis, G. McGaw, M. Sampson, T. Patton, A. Linton, P. McGowan, M. Robinson (captain), G. Hooks.
Replacements: M. Ferguson for Patton (20, inj.), J. Shiels for Reekie (54), M. Boyd for McGaw, J. McKinney for Hooks (both 62), R. Whitten for Arneill (66), C. O’Neill for McGowan (75).
NENAGH ORMOND: S. Harvey, G. Harmse, J. Kingston, T. Connolly (captain), C. McMahon, D. Delaney, D. Corcoran, D. Dunne, C. Brislane, F. Brislane, D. Walsh, D. Gallagher, S. O’Callaghan, K. Quigley, B. Williams.
Replacements: J. Quigley for Walsh, (50), M. Fogarty for Harmse (55), M. Slattery for O’Callaghan (68).
Referee: A. Rogan (IRFU).