The bonus point they picked up in the dying minutes thanks to a penalty try will help them to keep the pressure on leaders Galwegians and second-placed Ballymena and also boost their confidence heading into the December 27 Munster Cup final against Cork Constitution. The result, however, puts Shannon in even greater danger of relegation.
The bigger and heavier Garryowen pack, including seasoned campaigners like JP Cooney, skipper Dave Sherry and New Zealander Josh Hrstich, dominated almost the entire opening half. They went in front with an early penalty by Jamie Gavin but in spite of constant pressure had to wait until the 20th minute for a fine try by right wing James Frawley that was converted from the touchline by Gavin.
However, Shannon were back in the hunt almost from the restart when, after scorning a kick at goal, Munster’s Paddy Butler got the touchdown after a powerful maul.
Neil Cronin, the young scrum-half who has been making a name for himself with Munster A, sniped around the side of a ruck and raced over for a second Garryowen try on 27 minutes and Gavin converted to push the light blues 17-5 in front.
Gavin then split the Shannon defence for a soft try and conversion, leaving Garryowen with a 24-5 advantage at the break and in total control. Even though Gavin added another three points within a minute of the restart, Shannon enjoyed their best spell of the game for a lengthy spell after this, with Butler hugely influential and number eight and captain John Shine also very much to the fore.
After 53 minutes they stretched Garryowen to such an extent that David O’Donovan went over for a top-class try with two men outside him. Even though the usually reliable Tadgh Bennett missed the conversion, it was by this stage a much more meaningful contest. What appeared to be a harmless scuffle in the Shannon 22 suddenly developed into something a lot more serious. James Frawley went over for what would have been a bonus point try for Garryowen but it was disallowed and flanker Darren Mulcaire was yellow-carded.
Garryowen were undaunted and piled on the pressure, their seven-strong pack forcing a series of close range scrums that eventually resulted in a penalty try converted by Gavin. In the third minute of stoppage time, Shannon had a consolation try by John Shine, converted by Dave Evans.
SHANNON: D O’Donovan; S Horgan, S Mullally, R Deegan, R Hunt; T Bennett, G Ryan; D O’Connell, S Malone, J Cronin, P Kerins, R O’Donnell, P Butler, J Shine capt, L Nicholas. Rolling replacements: C Glynn, L Cronin, B Downey, D Evans, R McKenna.
GARRYOWEN: R O’Mahony; J Frawley, A O’Byrne, C Doyle, J McInerney; J Gavin, N Cronin; P O’Shea, E Rossiter, JP Cooney, M Hanrahan, P McCarroll, D Mulcair, D Sherry capt, J Hrstich.
Rolling replacements: JM Griffin, B McNamara, A McCluskey, L Bourke.
Referee: M Connolly (IRFU).