Young Munster 35 Old Belvedere 36: The Ulster Bank All-Ireland League got off to the best possible start at Tom Clifford Park on Saturday, when Old Belvedere and Young Munster provided a thriller from which the visitors emerged victorious by a point (36-35).
While Young Munster head coach Gearóid Prendergast was disappointed at the outcome, he still took many positives from the game, and was especially pleased that Munster coach Rassie Erasmus is living up to his promise to release a number of the provincial squad to play club rugby.
Robin Copeland made his first appearance in the black and amber jersey while Cian Bohane, formerly of Dolphin, was also in Prendergast’s plans until “pulled” by Munster on the eve of the game. After a slow start, Copeland made his presence felt in the second half when he made one or two spectacular open field bursts.
Old Belvedere coach Paul Cunningham was delighted to see Copeland in the opposition line-up.
He explained: “It’s about time this has happened and that people recognise the value of the AIL.
Copeland showed a few nice touches as the game went on and the fact that he was there at all acted as a challenge to our fellas who never let him out of their sight. It was a marvellous game of rugby and while we know Munsters were short a load of players, it was a great start for us and will give us a lot of confidence”.
Even though the game produced a massive 71 points, there was never more than seven between the teams.
It was action all the way from the third minute when Munsters had a converted try by Dan Walsh but by half time a couple of superbly taken tries by Dan Riordan helped Belvo into a 15-13 interval lead.
Former Munsters out-half Willie Staunton landed two second-half drop-goals, one a huge effort from halfway, and they also had a couple of tries from right wing Shane McDonald that pushed them six points ahead with the game deep into stoppage time.
But the home side battled away to force a second try from Walsh leaving Paul Downes, who had previously kicked five out of five, with a touchline conversion to claim the spoils.
He missed narrowly leaving Cunningham to admit: “We would have had no complaints if it went over because it was such a cracking game to be part of”.
D Riordan; S McDonald, B Woods, J Kennedy, D Brandon; W Staunton, A Sheehan; A Howard, E Rossiter, D Lavery, J Kelly, K Miller, M Oyuga, J Slattery, D Sherry.
C O’Flynn, J Inglis, T DeJongh, R Cruess Callaghan, K McCarthy.
P Downes; D O’Mahony, A Griesel, J Harrington, T McHale; S Airey, R Guerin; G Ryan, G Slattery, C Skehan, A Ross, M Madden, D Ryan, D Walsh, R Copeland.
P Meyer, E Ryan, S Rennison, E Mundu. M Doyle.
F Murphy (IRFU).
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