Shannon vs Dolphin
A 30-19 win for Shannon!
This weekend saw our Firsts back to league action after a two week break. After three wins in a row there was a question of whether the time off would take the wind out of the sails, but having seen the performances the team has put in in recent weeks we were confident that Shannon would again preform and achieve the results they set out for. The weather that has plagued fixtures for the last few weeks was prevalent, and Storm Clodagh made herself known early in the morning. The pitches are well able to withstand rain by this stage, and they were the only thing looking well on an otherwise bleak day.
Shannon were awarded a penalty after an infringement from the kick off. With the swirling wind this kick was always going to be a tall order. It was missed and it was evident within minutes the type of rugby that was going to be needed on a day like this. Shannon had the wind behind them (although it was unpredictable) and used this to advantage with Richard Mullane stepping up to kick to touch. Our line-out was strong as always and Stephen Fitzgerald was really unlucky as the wind carried the ball forward out of hand, luckily the ref brought Shannon back for a penalty which David O’Donovan tapped to touch. We won the resulting lineout and utilized our forwards well as they crashed in pods making the hard yards. Our backs were patient and after 9 minutes of play Richard Mullane went over for first try of the day – this went unconverted. The wind continued to play havoc and tested the back’s patience as any pass spread over any reasonable distance was carried and we were unfortunate to have passes blown into touch. James Vaughan was alert in the back row and was quick off the mark each time to shut down any number 8 attacks from the back of the Dolphin scrums. Dolphin gained ground from a well-placed kick to touch and after they recovered their own over-throw it was their turn to crash the ball down the pitch to send their sub winger over for a try after 15 minutes. This was unconverted and left the score 5-5. For the next 10 minutes the conditions remained the same and the only option was to keep the ball tight and secure it. Both sides were only gaining ground through picking and going. The forwards on each side were bringing the backs in as much as possible but again the backs only option open was to bring the ball in too. A penalty to Dolphin on the 27th minute saw an opportunistic tap and go from the Dolphin full-back who managed to evade tackles and go over for a converted try. The score read 12-5 to Dolphin.
Shannon found themselves in possession after this kick off and again the ball was slowly worked up the pitch. Richard Mullane took his chance, made a break and found the safe hands of Frank Bradshaw-Ryan who duly passed the ball onto Ronan McKenna who took it into contact. We retained the ball and there was a few scrappy plays that followed. Ronan McKenna again came onto a ball at pace and broke through the defensive line and was unfortunate to pass the ball a hair forward to Will Leonard who was running a great support line. Play continued in a similar fashion for the next 10 minutes until Tadhg Bennett made a great break and handed off the Dolphin full back to go over the line - unfortunately this was held up. An injury saw an additional 4 minutes of extra play in the first half. In the final minute Shannon were rewarded a penalty which they tipped and went, finding Frank Bradshaw Ryan who eventually offloaded to Simon Malone who barrelled over the line to score. This went unconverted and left the score 12-10 in Dolphins favour at half time.
The first minute of the second half saw a penalty awarded to Shannon for a player offside, which Tadhg slotted over and Shannon retook the lead going ahead 13-12. Another two offside penalties in Shannon’s favour saw Richard Mullane’s boot gain a lineout on the Dolphin 10 meter. Again forward passes hindered Shannon’s game and Dolphin were also guilty of penalties. A stolen ball from Shannon saw Dolphin in possession. They then kicked to our backs, the Dolphin defence reorganised well and their winger took his chance to gather an intercept and ran in a try. This was converted leaving the score 13-19 to Dolphin after 55 minutes. More scrappy play saw both sides guilty of knock ons and five minutes later Shannon were in possession with a scrum close to the Dolphin 10 meter. Shannon crashed up the pitch again and were looking threatening in attack. The ball spread out wide at the opportune moment and a great Stephen Fitzgerald pass saw Will Leonard sail over the line after 64 minutes leaving the score 18-19 to Dolphin. If the weather was bad up to this stage, it was about to turn torrential. The heavens opened and the rain was absolutely lashing.
Shannon got a penalty again for a Dolphin offside, which Richard Mullane kicked to touch just passed the half way line. Good backs hands saw Richard gather and make a lovely break, crashing back into the cover of the forwards. Team work stood to Shannon here as they again attacked in pods using the support players well. The 70th minute saw a Shannon scrum on the Dolphin line, this was reset numerous times and after repeat infringements the referee awarded Shannon a penalty try leaving the score 25-19 at 75 minutes. Dolphin were in possession from the kick off but this was turned over and chipped through. Shannon kept the pressure on forcing a Dolphin kick that was collected by David O’Donovan who crashed over the line in the last minute of play denying Dolphin the losing bonus and leaving the final score 30-19.
This match marks our fourth win in a row and now sees Shannon climb up to fifth possession in the table. They have gained 18 points in four matches and are now showing the calibre of team they are. There is talent in abundance here and if you haven’t come out to have a look at a match yet this season then you really are missing out. Our next match is against Dublin University in Dublin this weekend and all support is most welcome.