Shannon v Dublin University
Loss on the road ends winning streak.
We travelled to Dublin this week with our Firsts taking on Dublin University in College Park. The referee for the day was one of the IRFU’s guest referees from Gerogia - Nika Amashukeli. The weather conditions saw no improvement on previous weeks and it was a match dominated by wind and rain. Dublin University were first to put a score on the board after 5 minutes when their number 8 scored under the posts after picking and going off the back of their own scrum, this was converted. Shannon won back possession after this when Ollie Lyons claimed a great turn-over, finding Sean McCarthy in support. Similar to last week, even the most sympathetic passes were taken by the wind and it wasn’t long until a pass not quite gone to hand was recovered by a Dublin University back who managed to build up pace and evade cover tackles to score a try under the posts. This was converted and left the score 14-0 after 8 minutes.
Shannon had a lineout after this and were awarded a penalty from a Trinity player not rolling away, this was kicked to touch and a maul was set up off the resulting line-out. Our backs were taking on ball and crashing in an attempt to break through when again the ball was spilled. Tadhg Bennett was quick to react and made two great cover tackles one after another, forcing the turn over which Shannon then kicked. Trinity backs were confident under the high ball and took the ball back up to Shannon’s defensive line. Our forwards were attacking well and the hits were strong until the Trinity number 8 found a gap and exploited it to go over for a try. This wasn’t converted but left the score 19-0 after 14 minutes.
Shannon re-grouped after this and were in possession in the next line-out. We set up a strong maul and Ollie Lyons went over for Shannon’s first try which went unconverted. From here Shannon woke up and began to chip away at the score difference. As was expected, both sides were guilty of handling errors, both sides knocked on, with the opposite side quick to recover and crash the ball on. A penalty at the scrum saw Tadhg Bennett slot the ball over and left the score 19-8 after 24 minutes. Two minutes later, Shannon backs were taking the ball up and after a deliberate knock-on from a Trinity player, they were reduced to fourteen men for the next ten minutes. We kicked to touch from this penalty and Sean McCarthy showed his strength in the air again. The ball was shipped out to the backs and a garryowen carried by the wind saw Trinity back in possession. An attempted break went awry when they were tackled into touch. The resulting line-out saw our backs back in possession and again not afraid to take the ball into contact. Shannon were awarded with another penalty after 29 minutes for a Trinity player not rolling away from the tackle. Tadhg again slotted this over leaving the score 19-11 after 29 minutes.
After this Trinity were awarded a scrum from a Shannon knock on, they were attacking strongly and Shannon displayed great first up hits dominating at the breakdown when Trinity were again penalised, this time for coming in from the side. We kicked to touch from this and mauled from the line-out. The maul was strong and we had gained considerable ground when the ball was passed out. Tadhg Bennett and Will Leonard linked up well, when again Trinity were penalised for the same infringement – refusing to roll away. We kicked this to touch and lost the resulting line-out. They set up a maul from this and a strong drive ensued. James Vaughan and David O’Donovan were both solid in defense and applied good pressure to the Trinity attacking players. Shannon were awarded another penalty here and the ball was kicked to touch. We took the line-out and set up a strong maul that was dominating and gaining momentum as again Trinity were penalised for side entry. Another player saw the bin in the seventh infringement in 13 minutes, the momentum had well and truly been taken out of Shannon’s attack. Three minutes later saw the end of the first half with the score standing at 19-11.
The first ten minutes of the second half passed with not much event. Both sides were guilty of penalties with both sides opting to kick to touch - neither side was giving much, and the defensive lines were strong. Trinity were awarded a penalty and slotted this over upping their lead again, 22-11. Shannon were awarded a penalty for Trinity holding on and took a quick tip and go, unfortunately this was lost in contact. Trinity kicked the ball from the back of the following ruck, the kick was held by the wind and carried meters down the pitch. Shannon recovered this and after a great Kelvin Brown break the ball was again lost in contact. Trinity were awarded a penalty a minute later which they took a quick one from, they shifted it wide and their winger came onto the ball at full pace, crashing through tackles and grounding the ball for a converted try. The score was 29-11 at 53 minutes.
5 minutes later Shannon were awarded a penalty for Trinity not rolling away. This was kicked to touch. We won the line-out but lost the ball in contact. The Trinity backs took on the ball after this and looked confident in attack. Again Tadhg and Will shut this down and forced the turn over, but unfortunately this was also lost forward. The next few minutes passed with similar play, the weather was playing havoc more than anything. The Trinity backs were running hard when they had possession but were equally plagued with knock ons and turnovers. Likewise our forwards seemed to be dominating the battle up front and were making ground through picking and going. Tim Tobin came on and made himself known from the start applying great pressure to the Trinity kicker forcing him to kick the ball out on the full. We won the resulting line-out and Trinity turned over the ball in the next play with them then knocking it on in turn.
Both backs took turns in kicking the ball with the Trinity back three eventually taking the ball up to the Shannon defense. Shannon gave away a penalty here and Trinity tipped and went, the ball was dropped and Shane Mullally was quick to recover it and get the ball out wide. There were a few good breaks from our backs but Trinity were strong in the rucks and managed to push Shannon off the ball. Shannon found themselves in possession in a scrum on the 75th minute with Ollie Lyons making a great break from the back, unfortunately the following pass didn’t go to hand and Trinity turned it over, made a break and also knocked it on. We went back for the original knock on and Trinity took the ball and carried it into contact. They spent the next two minutes making the hard yards, until Shannon turned over the ball and took it in to contact. There were some great breaks with the backs running at pace with ball in hand. We gained another penalty here and took the tip and go which Trinity then managed to turn over. The last minute of play saw the Trinity winger come on the ball at full pace and run in a lengthy try that was then converted leaving he final score 36-11.
Arguably the final score didn’t reflect the match. Shannon were 19-0 down after 15 minutes of play and dug in for the rest of the first half to whittle the score down to only 8 points. Both sides were guilty of handling errors in diabolical weather conditions. We had many scoring opportunities and our game was shut down - at times unfairly. It will be an interesting fixture for our first match back in January and I think it will be a totally different ball game. This is our last League match until then so it will be a well-deserved break from matches for the lads over Christmas.
Photo from Dermot Lynch