Cork Constitution 10 Shannon 14
Any encounter between these Ulster Bank League heavyweights always commands attention and it was no different at Temple Hill this afternoon.
Buoyed by last weekend’s comeback victory over Dolphin, Shannon made the trip to Cork with renewed confidence that they could trouble last season’s beaten finalists.
And so it proved as Stephen Keogh’s men coped well whilst playing into a stiff breeze and then showed huge grit in defending their lead in an absorbing second half.
Former Munster and Ireland winger Anthony Horgan was a notable inclusion in the Cork Con line-up. His early 30-metre break from a turnover was spoilt by the forwards going in off their feet.
Before that, Gareth Quinn McDonogh had missed his first shot at the posts. He was off target from close to 40 metres out, failing to punish the home side for not rolling away.
Shannon welcomed back Gary McNamara, Paddy Butler and Mossie Lawlor into their side but Constitution began to dictate as the first half wore on, the boot of Darragh Lyons pinning the visitors back.
Horgan threatened again with ball in hand, however he lacked support and his inside pass was intercepted by Shannon’s Rob Guerin who cleared the danger.
Cork Con made their next opportunity count though, young lock Brian Hayes skipping over for a 25th minute try which Gerry Hurley converted for a 7-0 lead.
Shannon replied three minutes later courtesy of a Quinn McDonogh penalty and were let down by some handling errors as they looked to strike from a series of five-metre scrums.
Constitution defended stoutly and Quinn McDonogh missed a 35-metre penalty chance after his opposite number Lyons was yellow carded for not rolling away.
Using their strong set piece platform, Shannon continued to press into the second half and got their reward when full-back Luke O’Dea crossed for a well-orchestrated try.
The Limerick side used quick lineout ball to break into the Cork Con 22 and after good continuity from Les Hogan, replacement Rory Sherriff and Butler, O’Dea cut inside to score an unconverted effort.
Centre Lawlor tagged on a terrific 30-metre drop goal to suddenly put Shannon 11-7 ahead. Hurley soon dispatched a penalty to touch and despite Con’s best efforts, Shannon kept them out.
Quinn McDonogh then planted a difficult penalty through the posts on the hour mark and that was to prove vital as Constitution could only muster three points from Hurley in reply.
Trailing 14-10, Brian Walsh’s charges had to go for a try as time was not on their side.
Snappy scrum half Hurley took a quick tap and was almost over, while the Leesiders also had a 70th minute try ruled out for a knock on. It was all hands to the pump for Shannon with their influential back rower Butler in the sin-bin.
Although they had a touch of good fortune at times, Shannon’s disciplined defence frustrated Cork Con until the final whistle and sealed a headline-grabbing win for the visitors.
Cork Constitution: Try: Brian Hayes; Con: Gerry Hurley; Pen: Gerry Hurley
Shannon: Try: Luke O’Dea; Pens: Gareth Quinn McDonogh 2; Drop: Mossie Lawlor