“Its a long way to Tipperary” or so the song goes. It was a particularly long journey for the Cashel rugby team and its band of loyal supporters back from Queens University Belfast after last Saturdays All Ireland League Division 2A clash at Dub Park.
A game that hung in the balance for 38 minutes suddenly turned on its head and Cashel ended up on the wrong side of a 38 13 beating.
The score board does not lie but in fairness to Cashel it does not truly reflect the effort of the team. Played at the beautiful university grounds in perfect conditions the game started with great pace and Cashel on the attack. Pat O’Connor kicked Cashel ahead after 4 minutes with a penalty. This was cancelled out 5 minutes later by Queens. It became clear early on that Queens would run the ball from all angles.
On 21 minutes their backs went on a sweeping run and one missed tackle resulted in a seven pointer for Queens. The Cashel pack continued to probe and Pat O’Connor narrowed the gap to 4 points with a penalty on 28 minutes. Four minutes later Cashel lost Ollie McGlinchey with an elbow injury. He was replaced by Andrew Kelleher. Again the pack roared into the Queens 22 and were 10 yards from their try line when the ball was knocked on. It was picked up by the Queens wing forward who had the whole field in front of him. He scored under the Cashel posts and suddenly Cashel were 17 6 behind at half time even though they had held their own in most aspects of the game.
Ed Leamy came on at half time, his first game in two months due to a knee injury. The game plan for Cashel in the second half should have been to keep the game tight and keep the ball away from the speedy Queens backs. The ball was knocked on by Cashel from the kick off. From the resulting scrum the Queens winger cut down the Cashel 9 7 channel and scored under the posts to bring the score to 24 6.
To the credit of the Cashel team they continued to play. With 25 minutes left they lost Danny Lambe with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Ian Stanley. Michael Kelly came on for Cian O’Donnell and Alan O’Donnell came on for Rory O’Connor.
Queens began to tire and the Cashel pack began to dominate. Kevin Quinlan made a 60 yard foray and was just caught on the line. Then with 15 minutes left the pack worked very hard and John Ed O’Connor got over for a very good forwards try which Pat O’Connor converted.
They continued to press on but the Queens defence stood solid. With two minutes left Cashel were pressing again inside the Queens half and, as often happens when a team is chasing the game, a pass was intercepted and the Queens player sprinted in under the Cashel posts for another 7 pointer which secured a bonus point win for them.
Cashel came back again and two minutes into injury time they were pressing two feet from the Queens line, the ball was flashed to the backs but again an alert Queens back intercepted, ran the full length of the field and scored another 7 pointer.
It was unfortunate that Cashel conceded those two tries in the last four minutes of the game. There is no doubt the better team won but Cashel did not deserve the trimming they got.
The focus this week must be on eliminating the mistakes and lifting the tempo for the visit of Highfield next week. As the season narrows down to the last four rounds some teams are pressing for promotion, others are pressing to avoid relegation and any team is capable of beating another on the day regardless of their position in the league table.
It would be helpful for the team if the supporters turned out in numbers next Saturday for the game with Highfield at Spafield at 2.30.
Cashel Team: H Stanley, C O’Donnell, D Lambe, S Walsh, P Ryan, M Cross, J E O’Connor, B O’Connor, O McGlinchey, C Quinlan, R Mullane, B Silke, P O’Connor, K Quinlan, R O’Connor, I Stanley, M Kelly, E Leamy, A O’Donnell, A Kelleher.
Cashel remain at top of table
Mick Barry Cup
Cashel 35 Cobh Pirates 5
Cashel Junior 2 team travelled to to Cobh on Sunday to play Cobh Pirates in the Mick Barry Cup. They came away with a 35 5 win. They scored 5 tries-try scorers were Brian Anglim, Niall fitzgerald, Sean Ryan, Sean Walsh and Shane Murphy. Johnny Maher kicked a conversion and Ger O’Sullivan kicked a conversion and two penalties. It was an excellent debut for young Shane Murphy who marked it with a try. This win leaves Cashel at the top of the table in this competition.