Shannon v UL Bohemians
This week our Firsts saw a change of venue to Thomond Park for our second “Friday Night Lights” match of the season. To begin we would like to sincerely thank everyone who supported our Pre-match function. The Russell’s clubhouse staff catered to over 70 people on the night and it really added to the atmosphere, and kicked off what was a great club night. A big thank-you must also go to LIT International Office for sponsoring the match. Back to rugby matters, Shannon had a somewhat changed team this week with regular starters, Tony Cusack, Conor Glynn and Sean McCarthy all carrying injuries and absent from the match day selection. From the go, Bohs were in possession after their own kick off and Aaron Broderick was quick off the mark to steal a turnover. David O’Donovan kicked this to touch and Bohs took a good lineout, spreading the ball out to the backs. Will Leonard, as usual, was quick in defence with a solid hit. Things settled down here and Bohs began to gain confidence in attack. Their centre managed to break through a tackle at one stage and spread it wide, they had an overlap and looked like they were going to exploit. A hospital pass combined with good pressure from Dunny and Simon Malone forced the knock-on.
Five minutes in, saw the first scrum of the match and Shannon were in possession. Lee Nicholas picked and went and found Shane Airey who put up a kick. Bohs recovered this and brought it up gaining ground towards our line, they chipped it over Greg O’Shea who was quick in realising, and turned to get a hand to the ball touching it down first. Bohs took advantage of any Shannon kicks that didn’t make touch, and were fast in getting the attack organised and spreading the ball wide. They again tried to chip through, and found a waiting Lee Nicholas who gathered and charged at the Boh’s defence. The ball came back and we kicked to touch on our 22, leaving Bohs in possession of the resulting lineout. They opted to maul this and when the maul didn’t gain any ground they got quick ball out to their centre, who spotted a gap and slipped through, going over the line and scoring the first points of the match. The try was converted leaving the score 7-0 after 10 minutes.
Five minutes later we saw prop Jason Cronin go off the pitch carrying an injury to his ribs. A penalty apiece after this saw Shannon on Boh’s 22 with a line out. Lee took the ball at the back and a maul was set up; we were unlucky to be found offside here as the ref called truck and trailer from the back. Bohs took the scrum and pushed Shannon back yards gaining a penalty in the process, kicking to just inside Shannon’s half way line. They took a line out here and mauled, breaking off and attacking in pods. They got a penalty for Shannon hands in the ruck and slotted it over. The score read 10-0 after 22 minutes. The ball was kicked over-and-back between both sets of backs following this, and finished with Bohs scrum half kicking. Robbie Deegan recovered this and found Stephen Fitzgerald who made a great break and offloaded to Frank Bradshaw-Ryan. We were attacking from deep here and looked strong. Robbie was unlucky not to break through and with a penalty coming Shane Airey attempted the drop-goal but it was blocked. We went back for the penalty. Shane slotted it over and left the score 10-3 at 26 minutes.
Shannon were back in possession and put up a garryowen with Greg chasing and putting in a solid hit. Bohs kept the attack tight and put up a kick into the waiting arms of Ollie Lyons who was blatantly taken out in the air. Strangely there was only a penalty awarded for this and the offending player went unpunished. We kicked the penalty to the Boh’s 22 but lost the ball in the lineout, we did however, gain a penalty from a Bohs player not keeping his feet in the following ruck. We were unfortunate to miss this. Changes were made here with Tadhg Bennett coming on for Shane Airey and Brian Downey on for James Vaughan. Not soon after; injuries became a headache for the Shannon coaching staff with Niall Horan repeatedly down with a back injury and Frank Bradshaw-Ryan forced to retire, seeing James Vaughan return to the pitch only 4 minutes after leaving. Ollie Lyons covered second row with Brian, James and Lee covering backrow. Bohs had been hammering the Shannon line by this stage and Shannon to their credit were fantastic in defence. Each player made the hit as required, and Bohs had to spread the ball across the pitch to gain any ground. We were under pressure in the scrum on our line and the ref gave a free to Bohs to re-set it. In the next scrum Bohs pushed Shannon hard, but their number eight fumbled the ball at the back and Bohs were rewarded a penalty try despite not being in control of the ball going forward. This was converted on the 43 minute mark leaving the half time score 17-3. To credit Bohs they enjoyed most of the possession in the first half and they used the ball wisely between taking it into contact and kicking.
The second half started off with a Shannon line out early on; Ollie Lyons took the ball and we kept our attack tight. We kicked the ball and Bohs recovered taking the ball back up. The Shannon defence was speedy in coming up, and forced a pressure kick to the Bohs 22. Shannon kept the pressure on here and attacked Bohs around the corner for up to five minutes. Robbie Deegan found himself in possession and made a great break with Greg O’Shea in support. A perfectly timed pass, saw Greg over the line for an impressive try. Tadhg Bennett converted this, leaving the score 17-10, 5 minutes into the second half. Bohs continued to use the boot and Brian Downey did very well to get himself under one and keep the ball in touch by batting it back to a waiting Stephen Fitzgerald, who pulled off a good side-step and brought the ball into contact. We kicked here and Bohs took the line out with fast ball to the backs, who kicked to Shannon’s 5 meter line. Shannon took the line out and a momentary lapse of concentration saw the ball dropped with no one to recover and the Bohs prop took it and slid over the line for an unconverted try leaving the score 22-10 at 50 minutes.
Two minutes later, Bohs were back in possession from a Shannon kick and launched a relentless attack at Shannon that lasted a good few phases. Scrum-half Cathal Sheridan was dictating the play to his pack, and when the backs came onto the ball it was from depth. Around this time Luke O’Halloran replaced James Vaughan in the backrow. Bohs then knocked on the ball and Shannon were awarded a scrum. 56 minutes into the second half, Niall Horan went down, and it soon became apparent that his game was over too. With all front rows utilised at this point, the scrums had to go uncontested. James Vaughan warmed up to again go on and replace Niall, when the referee made the bizarre decision to rule that as the scrums were now uncontested, Shannon would have to play the remainder of the match with only 14 players. James Vaughan was told to leave the pitch by the referee. This rule is only upheld in the professional game and Shannon were unfairly hindered by this and so had to play on a man down for the remainder of the match. It diod, seem to awaken something in Shannon, three minutes later we were in possession and Stephen Fitzgerald made a great break, bringing Shannon up to the Bohs line. We got a penalty here and tipped and went with the ball being spread wide to Shane Mullaly who was running at pace and barrelled his way over the line. The conversion was missed and the score read 22-15 at 61 minutes.
5 minutes later Bohs were awarded a penalty for Shannon lying across the ball and they were successful in their attempt, leaving the score 25-15. We had a lineout after this which Bohs stole, however we gained a turnover in the ruck and kicked the ball to touch. The pack mauled off this lineout and made their way towards the Bohs line. Dave Evans was quick in getting the ball out wide and Will Leonard took it in and carried it over the line to touch down for Shannon’s third try – converted by Tadhg Bennett. The score was then 25-22 with 71 minutes gone. The last 9 minutes saw Shannon attack Bohs and push hard to gain yards down the pitch but it wasn’t to be and the score still stood as the final whistle sounded.
In all fairness to UL Bohs they were hungrier in the first half and looked dangerous with ball in hand. Their scrum half called the shots from behind the rucks and mauls and dominated play for periods of time. Shannon however, emerged in the second half a changed side and put on a display full of heart and determination. An unfair decision saw us reduced to 14 men for 24 minutes which is unfortunate, as every point gained at this end of the season is crucial. Our lads stepped up and made themselves counted for the rest of the match and nearly pipped Bohs for a finish. Next week the Firsts are away to Ballymena which is going to be no easy feat, but with the performances put in so far this season, we can be guaranteed a good game of rugby.