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Young Munster take the points in Anglesea Road

November 7, 2018

Sometimes rugby can be brutally ugly.

Trust me. I know ugly. I’ve woken up next to ugly. (Mercifully not for quite some time, but the point stands.)

So you’ll forgive me if I spare you many of the gruesome details from last Saturday’s trip to Anglesea Road. Suffice to say, it was ugly.

The omens beforehand were mixed. On the one hand the same opposition had rolled into Greenfields four weeks ago and rolled out on the wrong side of a 37-point hiding. Into the bargain this time round, Belvo’ were missing their rampaging playmaking No.8 Leo Auva’a and their first choice out-half Steve Crosbie who was away on Ireland Under-20 duty.

On the other hand, they’d run Bohs close a week ago while those of us starved of rugby down Limerick way were denied a trip to Cork by weather last seen in the more vengeful verses of the Old Testament.

Oh, and it clashed with the Ireland match, which seemed like a bad omen in itself.

Anyway, the game kicked off in a haze of cheering and fanfare. Sadly, that was coming from the bar as Brian O’Driscoll was burrowing over for Ireland’s third try. Outside, the die-hards were making themselves heard on a somewhat smaller scale. One or two had an earpiece trained towards Cardiff but eyes and throats were on the heavy-looking South Dublin sod.

Six minutes in and the hosts were ahead, Josh Glynn splitting the uprights from dead straight in front.

There followed 34 minutes of honest endeavour, undermined by handling errors, sub-par kicking, and one horribly mistimed refereeing decision. There were howls of derision as Dom Lespierre spun out of one tackle, dodged another and had only the full-back to beat when he was hauled back for a knock-on.

An Old Belvedere knock-on. Because a scrum on halfway is more advantageous than having a winger in the clear, apparently.

Half-time came, and went, and the expected lift in performance didn’t seem to materialise, despite Brian Haugh cancelling out Glynn’s earlier effort from an almost identical position.

Just before the hour, with play having followed the same patterns in the second half as it had in the first, Belvo turned the formbook on its head and bagged the opening try. Right winger Eddie Devitt got on the end of an Aaron Sheehan cross-kick and dotted down to push his side 8-3 ahead. Glynn was off target with the conversion attempt; a miss that would come back to haunt the speedster-turned place kicker later in the game.

With the clock ticking down it looked like a corner had finally been turned when Darragh O’Neill chipped the last defender and dove on the ball at the back of the in-goal area. From a considerable distance away however, referee Paul Haycock decreed the ball had beaten the winger to the dead ball line before being grounded and awarded the hosts a 22 drop-out.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t a popular decision among the travelling support and with time almost up it looked as though it might have proved costly. As the clock ticked past 80’ the score still stood at 8-3 and to compound matters, Brian Haugh had been sin-binned.

Against the odds though, after 80 minutes of ugly rugby, the 14 men still on the field delivered.

A 5 metre scrum was awarded, Mike Prendergast fed it, and the front rows went down.

Twice.

When Munsters got the shove on the third time of asking the jaded Belvo’ pack buckled and left referee Haycock with no choice but to run under the posts to award the penalty try.

Shane O’Leary marked his first senior appearance by notching the extras under considerable pressure, and surely that was that, right?

Right?

Sadly - from the point of view of my cardiac health - there was a sting in the tail. Old Belvedere claimed the restart, drove into Munsters’ 22’ and looked poised to snatch the game with a last-gasp drop-goal.

A half dozen heart-stopping phases later No.10 Sheehan was back in the pocket with three chasers bearing down on him. Whether the kick was on target or not we’ll never know because it was charged down before anyone could tell. Shane O’Leary hacked downfield to clear the lines and after Belvo’ captain Danny Riordan had been tackled into touch that, finally, was that.

Four points secured, and with Garryowen slipping up at home to Cork Con second place is definitely in sight at the very least. Had a Barry Keeshan conversion been on target in Musgrave Park then the gap to first would have narrowed too, but that wasn’t to be.

Still, on a day that could easily have been written off as a bad day at the office, Munsters managed to win ugly, and didn’t somebody once say that’s the hallmark of a champion?

Final score: Old Belvedere 8 Young Munster 10

Old Belvedere: Pa O’Regan, Cillian McDonald, Declan Lavery, Josh Eden-Whairtiri, Dean Moore, Colin Mallon, Kieran O’Gorman, Jonathan Slattery, David Moore, Aaron Sheehan, Josh Glynn, Alex Kelleher, John Kennedy, Eddie Devitt, Danny Riordan (Capt)

Subs: Adam Howard, Mark Cooney, Jack Conan, Ben Woods, Gearoid Mc Donald.

Young Munster: Darragh Cantillon, Ger Slattery, Alan Cotter, Sean Duggan, Johnny Moroney, Mark Rowley, Luke Russell, Neville Melbourne, Brian Haugh, Mike Prendergast, Darragh O'Neill, Lukas Kuntz, Mark Doyle, Dom Lespierre, Craig O'Hanlon.

Subs: Daniel Montgomery, Hugh McGrath, Mike Madden, Colin Liston, Shane O'Leary.

Referee: Paul Haycock (IRFU)

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Bonus point win for Second XV

On Sunday, our Second XV took on Old Crescent in the Munster Seconds League, notching up a fine bonus point win.

Final score: Young Munster 41 Old Crescent 10

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Fixtures

Saturday 9th February

• AIL U21 South West Conference: Young Munster v Garryowen 2.30pm Tom Clifford Park

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