Bruff bask in glory of memorable win

BRUFF produced a magical 80 minutes and wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the ODM Munster Senior Cup at Thomond Park yesterday, denying tournament specialists Garryowen their 39th triumph with a display that combined brilliance and dogged determination.

This competition has lost status in recent years but yesterday’s final, certainly in terms of excitement, helped restore some of the fading lustre.

It wasn’t for the faint-hearted either, with Bruff launching their successful offensive in a first-half that saw a spirited response from the light blues.

Garryowen might point to the intervention of touch judge Noel Moore – who singled out a Dooradoyle player as the aggressor in an 80th minute ruck which prompted referee Darragh McCormack to reverse a penalty award – as the turning point in this tight game.

Bruff deserved victory for their performance in the first-half as gusty and skilful play yielded enough points to see them through. Afterwards, it was often sheer bloody mindedness and magnificent defensive organisation that kept them in control.

Player coach Eoin Cahill has known great days in Irish club rugby with Shannon but this will be the most prized.

“I’m a Bruff man through and through and while I can never forget the great times I’ve had with Shannon, this is the special one.”

He watched the game from the dugout throughout a pulsating second half and admitted it was hard not to have been in the trenches with his colleagues. “I was worried and it was a bit close for comfort, but I never really doubted the guys as the tackles went in. Our defence was magnificent but these lads play for one another until they drop.”

Garryowen can’t have any complaints as they trailed by six points at half-time. Bruff held a 20-14 lead that was more commanding than the score line suggested, having shrugged off a shaky start to score two excellent tries.

The tries may not have been of the flash variety produced by Garryowen in the fifth minute, but they were the result of considerable pre-planning, the first being a reward for perfecting a training ground move. Having built up a 20-8 lead by the 27th minute, it was a pity from their point of view that they allowed the light blues to score six points late in the half.

Garryowen’s try came from their very first attack with Conor Murray and Declan Cusack providing the attacking space for winger Cian O’Shea to scamper over after five minutes.

But there was no panic in the Bruff camp and Brian Cahill responded with perfectly struck penalties in the 8th and 14th minutes. Even when they fell behind again to a Cusack penalty, Bruff managed to hold their nerve. Alan Bourke won possession and man-of-the-match Tony Cahill slipped in to play scrum-half, cleverly throwing an inside pass to Peter Malone that allowed the former Garryowen skipper plough over in the corner for a try that Cahill (Brian) brilliantly converted for a 13-8 lead.

They built on that with a second try five minutes later. They opted to kick for touch from a penalty, won the line out and after six attacking phases, Bourke found the gap to crash over near the posts with Cahill adding the points to secure a 12 point lead.

Cusack responded with a penalty and Conan Doyle dropped a goal with the last play of the first half only for Cahill to continue his 100% strike rate with a penalty two minutes after the re-start.

That was crucial in the end because it forced Garryowen to play too much catch-up rugby. Conor Murray did go over in the corner in the 72nd minute to turn up the heat and Garryowen generally enjoyed the bulk of territory as the game wore on. With substitute Mossy O’Donnell in the sin-bin, Bruff had to work overtime in defence, but they held out magnificently until O’Donnell’s return and then turned over possession to advantage near their own line with the last play.

GARRYOWEN: L. Bourke, C. O’Shea, C. Doyle (captain), C. Hircock, L. Kuntz, D. Cusack, C. Murray, JP Cooney, R. Meyer, D. Lavery, F. McKenna, A. McCloskey, P. Neville, D. Sherry, C. Hartigan.

Replacements: A. Kavanagh for Sherry (inj., 20), A. Gaughan for Bourke (46), J. Rael for Meyer (74), C. Fitzgerald for Hartigan (temporary 48-57)

BRUFF: B. Deady, A. Cashman, B. Cahill, E. Cahill, P. O’Brien, T. Cahill, E. Maher, D. Horan, C. O’Regan (capt), G. Ryan, A. Laffan, M. O’Connell, A. Bourke, P. Malone, J. Shine.

Replacements: G. Leonard for E Cahill (40), G. Collins for Horan (48), M. Carroll for Laffan (55), M. O’Donnell for O’Regan (65), C. O’Regan for Carroll (75).

Referee: D. McCormack (Munster).

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