Shannon 0 UCD 42
Despite a humiliating defeat which relegated them from the top flight for the first time in history, Shannon RFC chiefs remained defiant at Coonagh on Saturday.
“This is the beginning of the start again,” chairman of Rugby Jack Keane insisted. “We’re a very good family, parish-based club. We’ll think about what has happened and I have no doubt we will bounce back.”
This promises to be a very difficult task with fewer players available to Shannon — and other Limerick clubs.
Keane continued: “There have been too many senior clubs in the city. Limerick can’t sustain that number. The population has switched towards Dublin.
“The best thing that has happened is that the IRFU has begun to wake up in relation to paying players and so on and we support that.”
Keane vowed that the club’s under-age structure is strong enough to quickly revive Shannon’s fortunes. One of those who will need replacing is the great loose head prop Marcus Horan who played his last rugby game on Saturday. And there was no fairytale finish for the Munster and Ireland legend on Saturday.
He admitted: “This is hard to take. We didn’t get out of the blocks at all. We never put pressure on them. The worst thing is that we went down without a fight.”
However, Horan agreed that the shortage of talent available to the Limerick clubs is becoming more and more apparent. “You could see it there today, we don’t have the strength in depth of these Dublin club. That’s just a fact of life that we have to get used to. But this club has a good history and we need to get the good guys back. Shannon made me and I’ll always be there for them. This is not the end of Shannon by a long shot. These kinds of scenarios make a club and it’s the coming back that will be the real test.”
For UCD, what could have been a brutal test of their talented young side was instead a romp in the Coonagh sunshine. Left wing Barry Daly scored two of their five tries from long distance and others fell the way of Dan Kenny, James Tracey and Stephen Murphy. James Thornton (penalty and conversion) and replacement Niall Earls (2 penalties and 4 conversions). They return to the top division they left in 2009 having been there since 2001/’02 and if they can keep this squad together, certainly will not be easily dislodged if this outstanding performance proves a reliable yardstick.
UCD: A Boyle; S Coughlan-Murray, A Kelly, S Murphy, B Daly; J Thornton, J Glynn; J Tracey, R Byrne capt, K Moloney, S Grannell, E MacMahon, C Gilsenan, M McGroarty, D Kenny.
Rolling replacements: R Harrison A Clarkin, B Cawley, B Holland, N Earls.
SHANNON: J Loxton; S McNamara, E Moloney, R Mullane, D O’Donovan; T Bennett capt, R Guerin; M Horan, D Casey, G McNamara, F Walsh, S McCarthy, E McLoughlin, James Murphy, John Murphy.
Rolling replacements: J Cronin, N Horan, L Mullane, M Culhane, C Culhane.
Referee: A Rolland (IRFU).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved