Two penalties by Conor Cooney for holders Clonmel against one for Shannon by Ronan McKenna (who did all his side’s scoring) had the Tipperary side in front after a decidedly lacklustre first half. But the game burst into life on the turnover with one side, then the other, taking the initiative as they made light of the difficult conditions to turn in a stirring 40 minutes of committed rugby.
Shannon were unlucky within a minute of the resumption when McKenna struck a post with a drop-goal attempt but very quickly appeared to have swung the game in his side’s favour. Having levelled the scores with a penalty, he intercepted a pass just outside his 22-metre line and outpaced the covering defence to touch down behind the Clonmel posts for a try that he converted himself.
Shannon looked a good bet at this stage to capture the trophy for the 11th time and the first since 1996, but Clonmel had other ideas. Livewire scrum-half Alex Sheehan scorned the chance of an easy three points at a close-range penalty, taking a quick tap instead and darting over for a try.
Cooney’s conversion levelled the scores at 13-all and he then landed a superb 45-metre penalty to put the reigning champions 16-13 in front. But Shannon came again and McKenna tapped over the equalising penalty.
C Cooney; G Carroll, L Hogan, B Condon, D Cass; D Cadogan, A Sheehan; B O’Kelly, G Mulcahy, P Keating, M Barry, R Crosse capt, S Pyke, Darragh Foley, N Melbourne. Rotating replacements – B Lawlor, J Gallagher, T Cantwell, B Lonergan, D Lyons.
S Fitzgerald; C Cunnane capt, S Horgan, W Leonard, R Hunt; R McKenna, R O’Doherty; T Cusack, P Ryan, N Horan, J Ryan, E McCabe, B Downey, K Brown, D Quinlan. Rotating replacements – T Chan, G McNamara, C McCallum, T O’Neill, J Cullen.
R O’Sullivan (IRFU).