Storm Atiyah took is toll on Sunday’s junior rugby fixture list with a number of games called off throughout the province. Those that did take place faced the unusual challenge of trying to compete with extremely high winds and it turned out that it was mainly the sides who played with the elements behind them in the second half that reaped rewards.
Called off due to the weather were the meetings of Abbeyfeale and Clanwilliam and Crosshaven and Richmond while in the remaining games, Newcastle West were the only local side to claim a victory. Despite the cancellations, both Richmond and Abbeyfeale enjoyed a week-end of clubhouse celebrations with the city side running a successful children’s party and musical event at their Canal Bank venue and Abbeyfeale also staging an event attended by members of the side that won the Munster Junior Cup in 1966.
MJL1, Newcastle West 18, Thomond
The city side’s good run came to an end in this hard-fought encounter. They certainly gave it their best shot and on an afternoon when the conditions were so severely testing that the referee called both teams to the dressing room to give them a chance to recover from the opening 40 minutes of combat, it was second-placed Newcastle who came away with the four points.
Thomond started at a great pace and after five minutes of pressure on the home defence they took the lead, Adam Guerin slotting over a penalty. Wind assisted, the city side looked comfortable and they enjoyed good periods of possession after NCW had a player sent to the bin after 11 minutes play. Thomond were reduced to 14 players on 26 minutes but just before the short whistle they increased their lead, Adam Guerin again accurate from the kicking tee to put his side 6-0 in front at the break.
For a number of seasons, there is one player who continually stars in Newcastle West games and once again it was the left boot of Sean Herlihy that made the difference in this local derby. With an almost hurricane wind behind him, the distance was not a problem but getting the accuracy required the skills of only the few. Early into the second half the scrum-half reduced the deficit to three points with his first effort from close in, he levelled it at 6-6 in the third quarter and four more strikes gave his side an important victory that keeps them hot on the heels of leaders Kilfeacle and District.
As the conditions worsened the numbers viewing this game quickly dwindled. The 35-table pre-match annual lunch, which included guest speakers Donnacha O’Callaghan and George Hook, boosted the attendance at the start but with the worsening conditions, only the brave and loyal souls remained on the terraces. Thomond fought to the end but their efforts to save a losing bonus point came up just short.
Galbally 3, Clonakilty 8
The scoreline tells the story of this battle. It was tough and tight with most of the play fought out amongst the two packs. Galbally will be happy to get a losing bonus point but they will look back on this game as one which they may well have won. Unfortunately for the Limerick side, it was Clonakilty who got the match-winning try on a day when both sets of players must have been relieved to hear the final whistle.
MJL2, St Mary’s 3, Muskerry 10
The ‘Saints’ slim hopes of staging an assault on one of the promotion places hit rocky shores on their home patch in Grove Island. They certainly put up a brave battle but their first-half tally of just three points, playing with wind advantage, was unlikely to be enough to give them victory.
On the plus side, St Mary’s got a losing bonus point and with a little bit of luck, and those small margins that can decide tight games, they could have at least drawn the tie. Out-half Jude Marlo Pendejito missed an early penalty for the home side but when he got a second chance later in the half he nailed it to give St Mary’s a 3-0 lead that they held until half time. The blue and whites could have been further ahead. They turned down an early close-in penalty, went for the corner but lost the resultant lineout. Even against the wind, the ‘Saints’ had a few good scoring opportunities in the second period. Muskerry kicked a penalty and scored the only converted try of the game with ten minutes remaining but St Mary’s never given up.
They butchered a good chance when they got a penalty, again they went for the corner but they failed to find touch. On the next occasion, they ran the ball outright but with Andy McKenzie on the right-wing waiting for the final pass the ball was knocked on. Muskerry kicked deep from the scrum and saw out the remaining minutes.
St Mary’s Christy McNamara said:
“We are lacking consistency all season,” after the game. “We need to be a bit more physical but all the lads are giving one hundred per cent in every game. We were short three players from last weekend and we needed a win today if we were to drive for promotion.”
“Next up for us in the league is a trip to Kanturk on February 9 and we are meeting Muskerry again in the Munster Junior Cup in January.”
Other results, MJL1, St Senan’s 14, Bandon 23; Mallow 17, Waterpark 0. MJL2, Ballincollig 8, Kanturk 13; Dungarvan 14, Charleville 8; Fethard and District 59, Tralee 7.