Garryowen kicked off and gathered the kickoff and immediately put the Shannon defence under pressure, however, a loose pass from the Garryowen backs allowed Shane McNamara to boot the ball forward where he added to it twice before going to ground to retrieve the ball as the Garryowen cover closed him down. The Shannon support were quick to arrive and as a panicked Garryowen defence was adjudged by Referee to have drifted offside, he awarded a penalty to Shannon on the Garryowen 22m line, which centre, Ben Sargent dually slotted. Garryowen surged forward from the drop-off, as Shannon failed to deal with wind assisted kick of Garryowen out half Jamie Gavin, Garryowen ran the ball out their backline. One of the Shannon backs was penalised for a high tackle just inside their 10m line and with the strong breeze Gavin made no mistake. Shannon failed to regain possession from the kick-off and Garryowen mounted a counter attack, the Shannon line held firm but one of the Shannon forwards over exuberance at the maul as he ran offside before the ball had emerged and Gavin slotted the penalty from halfway. Again 2 minutes later from almost the same position, when Shannon were penalised for holding on, Gavin punished us again closer to the 22m. to leave the score at 9pts. to 3 in their favour.
Shannon Out -Half Paul Clancy kicked the drop-off long into the Garryowen 22m which Garryowen bungled and Shannon Captain Eoghan Cunnane regained possession and after several pick & go phases, Shannon Prop Forward Gordon Birchfield scored the game’s opening try in the left hand corner in the 21st minute – Ben Sargent came close to convert but the wind pulled the ball to the right & wide.
Again Shannon failed to secure possession from the drop-off; this aspect of Shannon’s game was to cost them dearly before the final whistle. Having gathered the ball initially and going to ground they did not protect the emerging ball & Garryowen secured the ball through the gate, inside the Shannon 22m and a Shannon forward entered the ruck from the side – Gavin again punished the transgression. On the 33min. impressive Shannon Centre Shane McNamara went over on his ankle & was replaced by Daragh O’Doherty. On the 39min Garryowen were penalised inside the 22m line for going off their feet in the ruck but Sargent failed to convert. On the 3 minute of additional time, in the 43rd minute Garryowen moved the ball from deep in their own half and after three missed tackles; Garryowen Full-Back Derry O’Connor crossed the line for Garryowen’s opening try which was converted by Gavin to leave the score at 19 points to 8 in favour of the home side at the interval.
At half time Jason Cronin replaced the injured Liam Phelan. 3 minutes into the second half, Shannon inspired by some harsh words from the coaches, broke the Garryowen defence, when Full-Back Conor Cunnane having changed direction scored Shannon’s second try on the right hand side 15m in from touch and catching the Garryowen backline who were guilty of ball watching. Ben Sargent converted to leave the score at 19-15 Game On!!
On the 54min Prop Gordon Birchfield was replaced by Brian Downey. Who invigorated the Shannon pack and after a period of sustained pressure we were rewarded following a succession of searing runs at the Garryowen defence when Centre Daragh O’Doherty touched down for Shannon’s third try, unfortunately Sargent was unable to convert. The score gave Shannon a one point lead.20pts to 19.
Shannon secured the kick-off and the forwards, running in pods caused panic in the Garryowen defence and were rewarded with a penalty inside the Garryowen 22m which Ben Sargent kicked to leave the score at 23 to 19 heading into the last quarter of the match. On the 60min. Shannon No.6 John Sherin was replaced by James Doran.
On the 64min. Garryowen No.6 Kieran O’Gorman was sin-binned for infringing on the ground. Ben Sargent kicked the ensuing penalty to leave the score at 26pts. to 19. However, the sin-binning instead of demoralising them seemed to fire the Garryowen pack who took the game to Shannon. Shannon’s defence were valiant but Garryowen flanker Barry Sheehan crossed for a try in the left hand corner, Gavin missed the conversion. Shannon held a narrow lead of 26 points to 24 with 5 minutes plus injury time left to play. Shannon again failed to regain possession from the kick-off and Garryowen worked the ball into the Shannon 22m and following several phases of pick and go the Shannon defence buckled and Garryowen scrum-half Alan McNamara scored a try close to the Shannon posts & Gavin converted to leave the score 31points to 26 in favour of the home side.
As time entered time added on Shannon regained possession from the kick-off and the forwards rumbled forward into the Garryowen half; after eight phases of play running left & right, Shannon Full-Back Conor Cunnane was bungled into touch 5 meters from the Garryowen try line, so close but yet so far. The referee blew full time. Garryowen held on to claim a narrow win.
Team: 15.Conor Cunnane,14.Sean Arthur,13.Shane McNamara,12.Ben Sargent,11.Willie O’Connor, 10.Paul Clancy,9.Michael D’arcy,8.Liam Phelan,7.James Murphy, 6.John Sherin, 5. Mikey Madden,4. Eoghan Cunnane (Capt.), 3.Gordon Birchfield,2. John Deegan, 1.Aran O’Brien.
Replacements: Brian Downey, Jason Cronin, James Doran, Daragh O’Doherty, Peter Coffey.