Defeat would have resulted in relegation but Saturday’s win could be merely a stay of execution with an assignment against UCD next Sunday now a must-win for Shannon in their quest to retain their top flight status.
The score may give the impression that it was a bit of a cakewalk, especially as Shannon went over for their vital fourth try bonus point in the 50th minute to lead 25-19.
But they had to withstand fierce Lansdowne pressure over a 10 minute spell to preserve the advantage, always aware that the concession of a converted try could have put them through the trap door.
“They were actually over our line,” admitted Shannon prop Marcus Horan of the huge pressure from the visitors. “I was under the ball and I’d say it was a half inch off the ground. It was an heroic effort with everybody putting their bodies on the line.”
Horan also played a key role in the all-important bonus point fourth try with a delightful piece of inter-passing between himself and Eric Moloney and was rightly treated to sustained applause from the Shannon faithful.
“Guys will enjoy today to a certain extent but there’s a lot of work to be done yet”, he warned. “It’s only half time and it’s going to be tough, any team trying to come up from a lower division will be champing at the bit, it’s the Holy Grail to get to the top division. I don’t say this too lightly but Shannon made the AIL what it was for a few years and it would be a shame for us to go down.”
Not surprisingly, Shannon went into Saturday’s game with a considerable degree of nervousness after a very poor performance in losing a Limerick derby to Young Munster the previous week, a point not lost on Horan.
“That was terrible, it was really embarrassing”, he admitted. “That’s the worry, we play well one day, badly the next day, so now it’s about getting one more big performance out of us for the season.
“We will temper today’s win with what happened last week, knowing we can play really well but we can also go back to that terrible stuff.”
Scorers for Shannon:E Moloney, S McNamara 2 tries each; R Mullane try; T Bennett 3 pens, 2 cons.
Scorers for Lansdowne: R McCarron, T Kiersey, W Earle try each; M Roche 2 cons.
SHANNON:J Loxton; S McNamara, E Moloney, R Mullane, D O’Donovan; T Bennett (c),R Guerin; M Horan, D Casey, G McNamara, F Walsh, S McCarthy, E McLoughlin, J Murphy, J Shine. Rolling replacements: J Cronin, N Horan, L Mullane, M Cullane, C Cullane.
LANSDOWNE: R McCarron (c); C Aherne, M Roche, S Morrissey, S Carey; T Kiersey, P O’Donnell; D O’Reilly, S Collins, M Moore, T Beirne, W Earle, C Ross, C Butterworth, R Boucher. Rolling replacements: T Moran, I Prendiville, B Moylett, M Healy, T Daly.
Referee: E Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU).