Ennis RFC Under 16’s reached the mountain top on Tuesday last, December 27, when they defeated Bruff in the North Munster League final at Richmond.
In front of a noisy crowd with ideal weather for an open game, Ennis produced their performance of the season to defeat the team that had given them their only loss in the league campaign.
Ennis effectively neutralised the forward dominance that has been a hallmark of Bruff’s game over their previous meetings and with dogged work from the front 5 in the close-in defence and critical turnovers from the backrow at key moments during the game, Ennis were able to unleash the potent weapon of their running backline.
From the kick off, Ennis turned over the ball after two phases and quickly went wide; the ball reached the hands of the hard running Fergus Garvey who reached the 22 before grubbering the ball behind the rapidly closing defence. Garvey was inches from touching down for the opening try when he was illegally impeded by the opposition winger. The referee was on hand and immediately ran under the goalposts and awarded Ennis a penalty try, converted by Dylan Kenny, giving Ennis their dream start.
After the dream start, Ennis kept the pressure on but Bruff proved to be no push overs. After 15 mins, determined forward-pressure eventually broke down the Ennis defence when the Bruff pack got a touchdown in the corner. After Bruff missed the conversion, Ennis kept their nose in front and at 20 minutes, dogged work at the breakdown by Ennis forced a penalty 40 meters out in front of the posts. Dylan Kenny had his kicking boots on and converted to put Ennis 10- 5 in front.
The second half could not have started better for Ennis when Eimhin Crowley received the ball out wide and made a 50 meter run to touch down for their second try. The conversion from Kenny put Ennis 17- 5 front but this was only the first thrust in what would prove to be an epic battle.
Bruff came right back at Ennis and after failing to make ground in the tight collisions they started to put the ball wide. The tested Dylan Kenny at Fullback with high balls, but Kenny proved himself equal to the task and effectively counter attacked, linking up with his support runners. After several attacks and stout defence from the Ennis backline including an outstanding covering tackle from O’Connell, Bruff eventually found space and scored their second try to make it 17-10.
But Ennis refused to rest on this and immediately took the game back to Bruff and after strong running form the Ennis pack, Cormac Browne made a barnstorming run into the Bruff half, swatting defenders out of his way. When he was eventually slowed, he off-loaded to Eimhin Crowley who cut back inside, evaded three close in tacklers and ran in from 30 meters to score his second and Ennis’s third try.
With 7 minutes to go, after another period of dominance by Ennis, including penetrating runs into the Bruff 22 from Liam Hogan and Jack Duggan, Ennis created the overlap and got the ball through the hands to Fionn Langan who scored in the corner to put the score almost beyond doubt at 27-17.
Ennis closed out the game with dogged defence, with a penalty kick to touch from the hands of the ever reliable Dylan Kenny being the final action of the game.
Ennis: Adam Harvey, Alex O’Callaghan, Ben Ryan, Ben Sullivan, Brendan Cleland, Cormac Browne, Dale Watson, Daniel Geraghty, Dan Connolly, Dylan Kenny, Dylan Power, Emmanuel Olaoye, Eoghan O’Brien, Eoin Cullinan, Eoin Duggan, Eoin Purcell, Eimhin Crowley, Fergus Garvey, Fiona Langan, Hope Omorodion, Jack Duggan, Jack Feeney, Jack Hassett, Jamie Clancy, John Curtin, Liam Hogan, Matt Hanrahan, MJ Malone, Noel Shannon, Robert O’Connell, Shane Regan.