Sunday’s Well victory anthem ‘Bless ’Em All’ has rarely been belted out with as much gusto after three early tries paved the way for the Cork club to cap off an outstanding season with promotion to Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League after a pulsating play-off final at Musgrave Park on Saturday.
The achievement is all the more remarkable considering the Well lost all three of their opening league fixtures, including a home loss to Saturday’s opponents.
“I was hoping and praying all week that we would get the win,” said Sunday’s Well head coach Robbie Doyle.
“And to put in that type of performance with it as well, we played some of the best stuff that we played all season. Our first half was exceptional and gave us the foundation to go on and win it, we were never going to be caught once we got that lead.”
Given the importance of the clash, both sides would have been forgiven for making a conservative start.
Instead, the hosts ripped into Greystones from the off, racing into a 21-0 lead after 15 minutes. Backed by a strong breeze, Sunday’s Well full-back Greg Higgins, winger Cathal Quinn (two), and centre Eoin Hurley all touched down in that first half after some exhilarating running rugby.
Out-half Shane O’Riordan was outstanding off the tee and his four conversions and penalty gave the hosts a 31-5 lead at the break.
Aided by the wind after the interval, Wicklow side Greystones set out to claw their way back into the game and tries from Jason Curran, Blake Hill, and Padraig Geoghegan were added to Billy Norman’s first-half five-pointer.
Those scores put Greystones back into contention but it wasn’t enough, as another O’Riordan penalty kept Sunday’s Well out of reach.
“We gave ourselves a huge mountain to climb,” said Greystones head coach Kevin Lewis.
“We always fancied ourselves to score up to the 30s if we had to and, even though we scored four tries, we probably felt that we left three or four behind as well but, on the day, Well deserved it.”
Tries: G Higgins, C Quinn (2), E Hurley; Pens: S O’Riordan (two); Cons: S O’Riordan (four).
Tries: B Norman, B Hill, J Curran, P Geoghegan; Con: K Marmion.
G Higgins; C Quinn, E Hurley, M Chandler, J Neilson; S O’Riordan, P Arigho; M Moynihan, J Moynihan, F Moynihan; J Mulcahy, O Glynn; K Stokes, C Jouve, S Glynn.
N O’Donoghue, S Kelly, E Ackland, E Geary, R O’Mahony, J Barry, E O’Connell.
D Callan; J Keating, S Malone, C Hazelton, P Geoghegan; K Marmion, J Curran; D McKeon, B Hill, C Pearse; B Norman, J Campbell; D Mannion, E Marmion, B Clancy.
S Mulvaney, K Moes, M Douglas, B Trainor, A Dempsey, B Lynn, R Spillane.
Mark Patton (IRFU).