The Tipperary side ply their trade in Division 2A of the All-Ireland League and many expected them to be blown away by their illustrious top flight hosts. That never transpired and ultimately it was the concession of too many penalties under pressure in crucial positions which proved their undoing with Con marksman Tomás Quinlan in excellent form.
Nenagh scored three tries to two and could have had another in the closing minutes but Quinlan’s accuracy — seven successful kicks from eight and a personal contribution of 20 points — helped his side advance to the final. Nenagh coach Mike Kennedy acknowledged his side failed in some key areas: “We were a bit inefficient with possession in the second half, we got into their 22 quite a bit but our lineout didn’t function as it normally does. They’re a good side, the difference when you come up the divisions is that any error we made seemed to gift them three points.”
It was a tight first half with Quinlan adding a penalty to an early try by Conor Kindregan. Nenagh hit back with a penalty try converted by Kolio Hifo but penalties either side of the break from Quinlan gave Con breathing space and he converted another try after 47 minutes by Ger Sweeney for a 21-7 lead.
But Nenagh never gave up, scroing a try from Kevin O’Gormon converted by Hifo. Quinlan scored again twice either side of a try from Peter O’Connor and Con led 27-19 before Michael Walsh and Quinlan exchanged penalties to leave eight points between the sides for the third time.
An uneasy win for Con then, but coach Brian Hickey wasn’t surprised by Nenagh’s performance. “I have massive admiration for them, I knew it would be a hell of a battle. This was Nenagh getting to their first semi-final and I thought they added great value in terms of how they played; they have a huge game against Cashel in the league on Friday night but they were absolutely full bore against us.”
D Lyons; A Spring, N Hodson, R Horgan, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, R Foley; B Quinlan, M Abbott, G Sweeney; B Hayes, C Kindregan; J Murphy, C O’Flaherty, L Cahill.
R Burke, G Duffy, S Dwyer, S O’Leary, JJ O’Neill, A Dorgan, L O’Connor.
E Moloney; R O’Brien, D Corcoran, W O’Connor, D Corcoran; K Hifa, M Fogarty; J Hayes, J Healy, C Brislane; K O’Gormon, K O’Flaherty; M Slattery, A Cavanagh, L Vaipulu.
P O’Connor, F Brislane, J Flaherty, T McNamara, P O’Leary, J Long, M Walsh.
R O’Sullivan (MAR)