Superb Shannon offer hope when the need is greatest

UL/Bohemian 8 Shannon 16

Shannon produced the kind of committed performance that marked their many outstanding performances in the competition over the years to deservedly defeat fellow strugglers and near neighbours UL/Bohemian by double scores, 16-8, in the Ulster Bank League at Thomond Park last night.

It was Shannon’s first win of the season and even if it still leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table and four points behind Bohs, it was the kind of performance that suggested they can still avoid the drop for the first time in the history of the AIL.

It was a big game for the new Shannon coaching team of James Hickey and Brian Tuohy and they certainly came up with a very effective game plan. There were no individual stars, even if scrum-half Rob Guerin wound up with a personal tally of 11 points.

Nevertheless, they would have had early misgivings as a seemingly faster, livelier Bohs team gained the initiative and went ahead after four minutes when JJ Hanrahan chipped through delightfully for Mossie Lawler to gather and touch down against his old team. However, Shannon quickly gained an edge up front with young Sean McCarthy in the second-row and hooker Duncan Casey a tower of strength.

A couple of well-struck penalties by Guerin put them 6-5 ahead on 35 minutes, an advantage they retained through the interval. Hanrahan restored the Bohemian lead within a minute of the resumption but Shannon took a grip on the proceedings in the 48th minute when several players handled before flankers Emmett McLoughlin and John Sherin paved the way for a splendid try by flanker James Murphy that Guerin converted.

Guerin made it double scores with his third penalty after 58 minutes, his task made all the easier when backchat saw Bohs penalised an extra ten metres, and it was then that Shannon were made to display their defensive qualities and a commendable fighting spirit. The Bohemian cause was not helped when Hanrahan failed with his third shot at goal from four attempts while the failure of their line-out to function on at least three crucial occasions also hurt them badly.

At the end, they couldn’t muster even a losing bonus point and can have no complaints at the outcome.

UL/BOHEMIAN: B Martin; A Rossiter, M Lawler, N Kennelly, R White; JJ Hanrahan, C Sheridan; T Burke, E Rossiter, G Walsh, E Kelly capt, D Frawley, C Kindregan, I Condell, S Rennison.

Rolling replacements: J Sutton, D Lenihan, B Walsh, J O’Donoghue, D Farrell.

SHANNON: J Loxton; M Darcy, E Moloney, R Mullane, D O’Donovan; T Bennett capt , R Guerin; J Cronin, D Casey, G McNamara, S McCarthy, M Culhane, E McLoughlin, J Murphy, M Essex.

Rolling replacements: M Corby, G Birchfield, J Shine, J Sherin, W O’Connor.

Referee: P Fitzgibbon (IRFU).

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