Whereas the outcome didn’t mean a whole lot — apart from local bragging rights — to mid-table Garryowen, the points were crucial for Shannon who have slipped into the relegation zone in recent weeks. The two accruing from this game may be sufficient to keep them in Division One “A” as they are now five ahead of Blackrock College in the second last place.
An exciting second half made up for a very poor opening period although one of the major talking points was the poor turn-out of spectators, with as few as 300 spectators on a beautiful evening.
Shannon, however, won’t let that worry them unduly. They had lost 29-17 to the same opposition a week previously on home territory and for much of the first half, a repeat looked on the cards. Garryowen had the fresh wind at their backs and used it to enjoy the better of matters territorially. Having missed an early long range effort, Declan Cusack put them ahead with a penalty after nine minutes before Bennett missed a good equalising chance for Shannon.
Garryowen made them pay on 22 minutes when flanker Paul Neville placed a superb kick into the path of winger Adam O’Loughlin who outpaced the cover to dive on the ball for a try in the corner. Bennett then failed with another gilt-edged penalty chance for Shannon before Cusack stretched Garryowen’s advantage with his second penalty.
The boot was quickly on the other foot, however, when Bennett charged down an attempted clearance by Cusack and gathered to score but again he was off target with the conversion attempt. The half ended brightly for the home side with two more Cusack penalties that moved them 17-5 ahead at the break.
Shannon were a different team on the restart. Their forwards led by player coach Stephen Keogh performed with the pride always associated with a Shannon pack and having struggled with the boot in the first half, Bennett could now do nothing wrong. He knocked over a couple of penalties and then a third when Garryowen flanker Kieran O’Gorman was yellow carded after a succession of infringements by his side. Yet another Bennett penalty on 64 minutes levelled matters before Garryowen came back again.
Cusack made a superb run up the middle of the park only to see his centre partner Corey Hircock just fail to hold his scoring pass some 15 yards from the Shannon line. However, Garryowen did regain the lead on 76 minutes with a Cusack penalty before Bennett’s last ditch effort awarded when they pushed the Light Blues back a good 10 metres at a set scrum, to salvage what could be a priceless draw for his team with a smashing kick from 45 metres.
GARRYOWEN: R O’Mahony; A O’ Loughlin, C Hircock, D Cusack, A Gaughan; F Lawlor, N Cronin; J P Cooney, D Rowley, D Lavery, F McKenna, D Sherry, P Neville, K O’Gorman, L Viapula.
Replacements: A McMahon, P O’Shea, A Kennedy, C Hartigan, C O’Shea.
SHANNON: M Lawler; S McNamara, R Mullane, J. Clogan, M D’Arcy; T Bennett, R Guerin; L Hogan, D Fitzgerald, K Griffin, D Heffernan, K Hanley, S Keogh, J Murphy, D Quinlan.
Replacements: J Deegan, K O’Neill, G McNamara, L Mullane, A Bennie.
Referee: M Black (IRFU).