Shannon v St. Mary's College
Our Firsts were at home against top of the table St. Mary’s this weekend. St. Mary’s are on to win the league this weekend, and travelled in force to support their team. We welcomed Kelvin Brown back to the side while he is on break from Irish u20s camp, and were happy to see Conor Glynn shake off his recent injury and return to action. Shannon kicked off the match with a high ball that was knocked on by St. Mary’s. We took the scrum and were awarded an early penalty for Mary’s dropping the bind. Tadhg Bennett stepped up and slotted this over to give Shannon an early lead. The cold weather may have had an effect on the players but the knock on count was high and we saw 5 scrums within the first ten minutes. St. Mary’s were attacking through their backs and spreading the ball wide at every chance. Shannon were dominating in the scrums and utilizing the penalties to return the ball down the pitch. At 11 minutes we were in possession of a lineout, to which Frank Bradshaw-Ryan got quick ball to the backs. Tadhg kicked this and Greg O’Shea was in hot pursuit, keeping the ball in play and getting a quick offload to Stephen Fitzgerald, who broke down the pitch and was unlucky to put a foot in touch and Mary’s opted to take a scrum.
The scrum collapsed and Shannon were penalized, Mary’s didn’t make much of touch here, but got quick ball off the top to the backs. They attacked tight and worked the ball up the pitch in pods. Kelvin Brown and Tadhg did very well to hinder the St. Mary’s attack and they kicked to touch to alleviate pressure, unfortunately it hit a Shannon hand before going in. Mary’s mauled off this lineout and spread the ball out to the backs from this, the backs were attacking at pace and a great switch mid-field saw their center go over the line and score a converted try in the 14th minute. Five minutes later and a knock on from a St. Mary’s overthrow in the lineout; saw Mary’s with a scrum on our 10 meter. They spread the ball to the backs and chipped through. This was gathered and returned to touch. St. Mary’s were in possession in the resulting lineout and staying true to form, they got this out to their backs. They were attacking at pace and to credit Shannon they tackles went in as required.
The out-half chipped over and Stephen Fitzgerald recovered and returned to the Mary’s full back, who gathered and their back three worked well as a unit attacking from deep. Shannon were then penalized for a high tackle, which St. Mary’s kicked to the Shannon 10 meter. They opted for the maul here but Shannon were too strong, pushing the Mary’s pack back – the scrum-half got quick ball to the back-row who were hanging back in a pod and they brought it up. Their center took on the ball next and made a break, meeting Kelvin Brown who turned over the ball. Stephen Fitzgerald took the ball and put up a high kick to the full back, who again took on the ball finding his winger in support. Another high tackle saw St. Mary’s kick to Shannon’s 5 meter and set up a maul from the lineout. The maul pushed on and drove over the Shannon line allowing the scrum-half to get the ball from the back and snipe around the corner to touch down for a try on the 25th minute. This was converted and left the score 14-3.
Shannon kicked off and got under a St. Mary’s returning kick, Robbie Deegan was on the charge when a high tackle stopped him in his tracks and Shannon were awarded a penalty. Richard Mullane kicked to the St. Mary’s 5 meter and we were unfortunate to have a crooked ball in the lineout. A few minutes later, St. Mary’s were in possession in the scrum, this went down. They got quick ball out to the backs from the reset scrum and their scrum-half put up a box kick from the back of the ruck. We gathered and again, St. Mary’s were guilty of a high tackle, Tadhg kicked us to the Mary’s 5 meter. Jordan Prenderville got secure ball to Frank who set up the maul and got it moving. Kelvin made a break from the back and found Lee Nicholas who made a few yards and took the ball in to contact. Kelvin found himself as the first receiver from the back of the ruck, and was unfortunate to be held up going over the line. The remaining 5 minutes of the half saw the St. Mary’s winger on the gallop and a great cover tackle from Greg put him into touch. The rest of the half passed without incident and culminated with the St. Mary’s scrum-half tapping the ball into touch.
To begin the second half, Kelvin received from the kick off and headed up the attack from our half way. We were awarded a penalty here and Richie kicked us to the Mary’s 10 meter. Frank took the ball in the air and passed down to Dave Evans who spread it wide. We were unfortunate to knock on and St. Mary’s were back in possession gaining a penalty from the scrum and utilizing their number 8 to tip and go. They set up a solid attack, using pods and were awarded another penalty which they kicked to Shannon’s 5. They threw to the back of the lineout and got quick ball out to the backs but the referee got in the way of play and he awarded Mary’s with a scrum. They got the ball out to the backs and kicked through, finding a waiting Richie Mullane who brought the ball back up. Handbags here saw tempers flare and ex-Shannon center Marcus O’Driscoll was sent to the bin, five minutes in.
Richie kicked us to the Mary’s 22 and some confusion in the lineout saw an overthrow to the Mary’s 8 who broke. Will Leonard was then shown a yellow after 48 minutes for a high tackle. St. Mary’s kicked to Shannon’s 5meter and this time they overthrew to Ollie Lyons who gathered and made a break but lost the ball forward in the motion of passing. Scrappy play here from Mary’s saw them guilty of two knock ons and Shannon awarded a penalty at the scrum for early engagement. Tadhg took a quick tip and go and passed the ball back into the cover of the forwards; we got the ball out to the backs but were unlucky to knock on. Mary’s took the scrum on the 10 meter and shipped quick ball to the backs. They were then awarded a penalty for an intentional Shannon knock on. They kicked to Shannon’s 5 meter and mauled over the line claiming a push over try. This went unconverted and left the score as 19-3 after 55 minutes. Minutes later Mary’s kicked deep and Stephen Fitz did well to cover across and was unfortunate to put a boot into touch as he ran the gauntlet. Mary’s took the lineout and mauled, breaking off in a pod from the back which was held at the line. They were awarded a scrum on the Shannon line and when they broke, Kelvin was again quick off the mark to gain a turnover. We got the ball back to Tadhg who was behind our line and kicked to the Shannon 22.
St. Mary’s took the lineout and overthrew again, this time managing to gather it and launch a tight attack. They knocked on here and Mary’s were awarded a penalty for Shannon not holding their feet in the scrum. Mary’s kicked for touch off this and gained a lineout on Shannon’s 5 meter, they dropped the ball to which Shannon gathered and Stephen Fitz found himself in possession, Greg was in support and when he got the ball in hand, ran almost the length of the pitch passing back into Tadhg who was running in support. The ball was unfortunately knocked on in the next phase and Mary’s gathered and kicked back, but the ball went out on the full and the ref brought it back for a scrum on their 22. Play continued in the same manner for the next 5 minutes until Shannon gained a penalty and kicked to St. Mary’s 22. Jordan threw into the line out, finding Frank who passed to Kelvin and out to the backs. The backs attacked bringing the ball back into the cover of the forwards, we gained a penalty and tipped and went. Richie found himself in possession and almost went over but was tackled just short of the line. We retained possession and kept the attack tight. Richie again got hands on the ball and spread it out, Mary’s turned this over and chipped through; Tadhg recovered and Ollie took the ball on unfortunately getting isolated and Mary’s got a penalty for holding on.
They got backs ball from the resulting line out and the out-half put up a kick towards the Shannon try line. The ball rolled over the try line and we went all the way back to Mary’s 22. Pressure off the back of the scrum, saw Tadhg under pressure but the ball went back and again Richie popped up to offload a ball to Tony Cusack but unfortunately after a few phases, the ball was lost forward. Mary’s took the scrum on their own 22 and also fell victim to a knock on, awarding Shannon the scrum. Mary’s won this and the out-half put up a kick recovered by Richie Mullane, who linked up with Stephen Fitzgerald and onto Will Leonard. Again we were unlucky to lose the ball forward. St. Mary’s recovered this and launched an attack, they were awarded a penalty and took a quick one. They shipped the ball out to the winger who was running on at pace and broke through the line scoring a try at the 76th minute. It went unconverted and left the final score 24-3.
To credit the lads, they final score didn’t reflect the match. Handling errors on the day cost us dearly and in all fairness to St. Mary’s they are flying high with the chance of promotion, and took their chances well when they got them. The season is not yet over for Shannon and with two matches left it is important to get out and show your support for the club by making yourself vocal from the side lines. We will have a break from senior rugby for a few weeks now and won’t be back in action until April the second.
Photo from Dermot Lynch