St Caimins Community School secured their place in the final of the O’Brien Cup with an epic win over High School CBS, Clonmel on Friday.
St Caimins Community School 22
High School CBS Clonmel 15
The Shannon school were up against a strong Clonmel team who were only one game short of playing in the Munster schools senior cup this year. Clonmel were confident of themselves before the game and the phrase “this is a bread and butter match, ye should have this wrapped up by half time” was overheard coming out of their huddle prior to the game and certainly rallied the St Caimins side.
The early exchanges were fairly even with both sides putting in big tackles in defence. Caimins had the upper hand in the set piece from the first of the game until the last, powerful scrummaging from David Gleeson and Shane Russell had Clonmel on the back foot and if it were not for the rule stating you may only drive your opposition two metres in underage rugby the win could have been a lot more comfortable. There was a similar tale in the lineout where the throws from James Colgan were near perfection.
Clonmel opened the scoring midway through the first half, a clearing kick from the Clonmel ten bounced awkwardly in front of Caimins winger Darren O’Loughlin which gave the Clonmel backs time to close him down, by the time he had the ball in his hands he had three opponents around him and was quickly tackled and as fullback Tiarnan Agnew wrestled with a Clonmel winger the ball squirted out of the ruck. The Clonmel winger was quickest to react and he picked and ran diving into the corner. The conversion was missed and it was 5-0.
The next chance of the game fell to Evan O’Gorman. The Caimins’ forwards were keeping all the possession and making hard yards when second row Jamie Divelley dropped the ball in the tackle, the ball fell backward instead of forwards so there was no knock on. Evan was quickest to react and threw a boot on the ball. He was quickest to the ball again but as he dived to score the try the ref judged the ball to be over the dead ball line.
This wasn’t their only big chance of the half. The next came almost immediately after O’Gorman’s effort. After the 22 metre drop off Caimins retained possession again. After a couple of phases with the forwards the ball was flashed out the back, this is where the work the back line had done with St Senans clubman Declan Rowe really paid off. A slick backline move had second centre Conor Ferns bursting down the line, as he was about to be tackled by the covering fullback he offloaded inside to Darren O’Loughlin. Darren made more ground to take them to the Clonmel five metre line, and as Darren was about to be tackled he offloaded inside to James Colgan to score what would have been an excellent try. The only problem was that the last pass was judged forward and the try was disallowed. Clonmel once again cleared there lines off the resulting scrum.
With half-time quickly approaching the Niall Mallon coached outfit were still to get a score. They were determined to get off the mark before half time and sure enough they did. More hard work by the forwards gave Caimins good field position just inside the Clonmel ten metre line. Another ingenious move from their backline bamboozled the Clonmel defence and put fullback Tiarnan Agnew through a gap in the defence. If it wasn’t for good chasing by Tiarnan’s opposite number he would have been in under the posts but he was stopped just short of the line. Caimins secured the ball at the breakdown and from the ruck scrum half Alex Blake looked for powerful runner Brandon Cullinan. Brandon made no mistake and ran over the defence and dotted down in the corner to take his tally to four tries in three games for the school. O’Gorman just missed with the tricky conversion which had the sides level 5-5 at the break.
A rousing team talk from Captain Alan McInerney had the team raring to go for the second half. The team talk might have been a little too good as straight off the kickoff an over eager Adam Wood took out the Clonmel winger in the air. There was no card but Clonmel took the points of the penalty to give them a three point advantage.
Within two minutes of the penalty Caimins were down to 14 men. With the ball in the Clonmel half, the Clonmel players were repeatedly on the wrong side of the ruck and lying on the ball to slow the game. The referee refused to award the penalty to Caimins at which point the frustration boiled over. Alan McInerney decided to shoe the Clonmel player lying on the ball to get him to move, unfortunately this is only allowed at adult level rugby and not at U19’s, Clonmel were awarded a penalty in which they kicked for touch and McInerney was sent to the bin. A few phases after the lineout seen an uncharacteristic defensive mistake in the Caimins backline. This set the Clonmel centre through the middle, as fullback Agnew tackled him he offloaded and they were under the posts, their out half slotted the conversion and Clonmel were up by ten points.
From here the Shannon school really clicked into gear, the ball wouldn’t enter their 22 again. The Caimins pack were bossing Clonmel in the scrum, in the lineout and even in open play. Off a lineout just outside the Clonmel 22, the pack were mauling this ball and no one else is touching it, They drove the ball to roughly seven metres short of the Clonmel line when it eventually went to ground.
At this stage wave after wave of Caimins forwards crashing the ball up brought them to a metre short of the tryline. Clonmel were expecting the ball to go to the forwards who were rushing around the corner when opportunist scrum half Alex Blake dummied, dived and just about got the ball to the try line. O’Gorman slotted the conversion and Caimins were down 15-12 with 15 left on the clock.
Caimins kicked long from the kick off but a super kick chase meant Clonmel had the ball in their own 22. Blistering line speed in defence meant the Clonmel out-half simply couldn’t kick the ball clear so he tried to pass it wide. Again the Caimins lines speed put him under pressure and the ball slipped as he tried to pass. Conor Ferns was first to the ball and he kicked it through for himself to chase, he was running clean through to score the try when a Clonmel back stopped him by tackling him off the ball. The ref awarded Caimins a penalty but decided to keep the cards in his pocket which baffled many a member of the crowd. O’Gorman opted for the points and the sides were now level with ten to go.
Clonmel managed to catch their own kick off and they had possession in the Caimins half. The sheer will to win and the ‘Failure is not an option’ Attitude amongst the team shun through. Big tackles especially from Colgan who was playing like a man possessed, meant that Clonmel couldn’t get past the Caimins ten metre line. Clonmel were retaining possession but going nowhere. Eventually they gave the ball out wide and on a make or break play Agnew went for the interception from inside his own half. Catch the ball and he’s gone, miss the ball and Clonmel are going to have a two on one opportunity to score a winner. Agnew made no mistake with the catch and he is off. Not even cramping up short of the line can stop him from making it over the line for what proved to be the winning score. O’Gorman slotted the conversion and the final score was 22-15 in favour of Caimins.
St.Caimins will now face Abbey CBS from Tipperary in the final on Tuesday the 26th of January at 2.30 on the 4g Astroturf pitch in UL.
St.Caimins Team: 1.David Gleeson 2. James Colgan 3. Shane Russell 4. Jamie Divelley 5.Gavin McGonagle 6.Brandon Cullinan 7. Alan McInerney (C) 8. Adam Wood 9. Alex Blake 10. Evan O’Gorman 11. Darren O’Loughlin 12. Conor Hallissey 13. Conor Ferns 14. Aaron Costigan 15. Tiarnan Agnew. Subs: 16. Mikey Quinn 17. Evan Quigley 18. Marco Vimercati 19. Aidan Gallagher 20. Evan O’Sullivan 21. Darryl Makoni 22. James Staed.
Match report by Niall Mallon.
All photographs courtesy of Joe Buckley photography.