ODM MUNSTER SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL:
Garryowen 20 Shannon 17
The stroke of good fortune Garryowen have desperately needed after losing each of their five All-Ireland League matches to date finally swung their way at Thomond Park last night when they just got the better of Shannon in an exciting ODM Munster Senior Cup semi-final.
Whereas Shannon enjoyed a clear edge in open play, Garryowen were the stronger force up front. However, they were mightily relieved to cling on to their precarious lead in stoppage time when Shannon had what would have been a match-clinching try disallowed for a forward pass and then saw Tadgh Bennett miss a penalty from a very kickable position that would have equalised the scores.
The game was less than two minutes old when Garryowen centre Alan Gaughan intercepted a pass 35 metres from the Shannon line and raced through for an opportunist try, converted by Jamie Gavin.
Shannon took time to settle down after this setback and a Gavin penalty moved Garryowen ten points in front.
After that, Shannon took up the running and even though Bennett missed two kickable penalties, he found the target with a third before bringing the sides level when he converted a fine try by winger David O’Donovan in the 20th minute after a sparkling move in which a lovely offload by Bennett played a crucial part.
The sides were still level at 10-all at the interval and 15 minutes into the second half Paul Neville, who retired at the of last season after many years of service to Garryowen and assumed the role of forwards coach, made his reappearance in the “light blues” back-row.
Almost immediately, however, Shannon’s edge behind the scrum once again made its presence felt as Bennett split the Garryowen defence for another excellent try between the posts.
He added the points himself but Garryowen were quickly back in front with a penalty by Gavin who then added the points to a try by flanker Mark Hanrahan, who capitalised on the edge his side held at the set piece.
A three point advantage for Garryowen was always likely to remain precarious given the speed of the Shannon back line and they looked to have regained the lead when Richie Mullane finished off a sparkling movement only to be called back when the scoring pass was deemed forward by perfectly positioned referee Olly Hodges. Garryowen were penalised at the resulting scrum but Bennett pushed the kick right of the posts.
SHANNON:R Mullane; G O’Shea, T Leader, W O’Connor, D O’Donovan; T Bennett, R Guerin; N Horan, D Casey capt, A O’Brien, K White, P Kearns, E McLoughlin, C Power, J Shine.
Replacements: L Cronin, M O’Sullivan, L Mullane, S McCarthy, D Evans, S Horgan, T O’Neill.
GARRYOWEN: L Bourke; A Wootton, S McMahon, A Gaughan, J McInerney; J Gavin, N. Cronin; R Brosnan capt, E Rossiter, P O’Shea, A Valcu, A McCloskey, M Hanrahan, B Sheehan, D Mulcair.
Replacements: JM Griffin, N Griseto, E Fitzgerald, G Ryan, J Frawley, A O’Byrne, P Neville.
Referee – O Hodges (IRFU).
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