On Friday May 10 the history of Cashel RFC will be launched in the clubhouse but already the first chapter of the next book has been written and the third team has made a marvellous contribution with a second final win in five days, beating Waterpardk 24-9 in Clonmel in the Dave Dineen Cup final.
It turned out to be a game of two halves as Waterpark totally dominated the exchanges in the first half. Their powerful pack attacked Cashel up front and their slick back line ran from all angles. Only great defence by Cashel kept them out. On 10 minutes Waterpark went ahead with a penalty. They continued the pressure and added two further penalties on the 20th and 30th minutes. Cashel kept to their task and made a number of forays into Waterpark territory but failed to score. Half time score Waterpark 9 Cashel nil.
There was no sign of panic in the Cashel huddle at half time but the large number of Cashel supporters who turned up could not anticipate what was to happen. The Cashel management team of John Brosnan, Dermot O’Brien and Mark Butler seemed to turn on a switch and the team clicked into gear.
The forwards led by Sean Ryan began to carry ball. David O’Meara at scrum half orchestrated the back line and the fine-tuned machine began to hum. First Johnny Maher made a great break, he off-loaded to John Prior and he raced 30 metres down the touchline and scored under the posts. He also converted and Cashel were back in the ballgame.
A feature at this stage was the kicking of Ger O’Sullivan. On a number of occasions with Waterpark pressing, he launched the ball deep into the opposition 22. On the 50th minute Eion Laffan made a break from half way, Fergal McCormack, playing a blinder took it on. The pack carried it from there and Cormack O’Donnell used his considerable strength to barge over for a try. John Prior converted.
Two minutes later he converted a penalty from 35 metres and the ball was still rising as it sailed into the field behind the goal. With 20 minutes left Ger O’Sullivan launched one of his specials from deep inside his 22. It went into touch five metres from the Waterpark line. Sean Ryan robbed the lineout, drove for the line and sent an exquisite one handed off-load to Johnny Maher who sprinted over for an brilliant try. With his fourth successful kick John Prior converted. Waterpark threw everything into attack but they could not breach the solid Cashel defence.
This was a game that could have gone either way. There were many stars on the Cashel team as a number of players were given a start. The front row of Cormack O’Donnell, Gavin Delany and Kieran Sweeney were outstanding. Shane Nolan came on at half time and he was outstanding. He is a very experienced prop and carried ball after ball. Alan Cummins and Fergal McCormack, two powerful men, are getting better game after game and once again anchored the scrum from the second row. Once again the backrow were outstanding. Sean Ryan is a beacon as he dominates the lineout and puts his body on the line. Niall Fitzgerald is the Sean O’Brien of this team and he was all over the place. Kieran O’Donnell, brother of Cormack, came in at number six for the injured Aidan O’Connor and had a fine game. He showed his versatility as he can also play at hooker and prop.
At scrum half there was a difficult call for the selectors as the experienced David O’Meara replaced young Shane Murphy, who was outstanding last Sunday. David was outstanding as was Shane when he came on in the second half. At outhalf the kicking of Ger O’Sullivan was amazing as he kicked Cashel into attacking positions time after time and relieved the pressure. The centres of Sean Walsh and Robert Thornton were very strong in defence and Robert was very unlucky not to get a try. Eoin Laffan on the wing was very solid and made some decisive runs. John Prior used all his pace to score a fine try and had four successful kicks at goal.
At full back Johnny Maher had one of his best days in a Cashel Jersey. His pace and positional sense were very effective. Eamon Cartey made his mark on the wing and it was a first medal for JJ O’Connor as he also came on on the wing. He is one of the up and coming youngsters and is son of former London Irish great, John Bernard O’Connor and Mary. Dermot O’Brien was too busy with his managerial duties to put himself on but he, John Brosnan and Mark Butler are doing a wonderful job with this great panel of young players. President of Clonmel RFC John Connery, representing the Munster Branch IRFU, presented the cup to David O’Meara and Sean Ryan.
Cashel: C O’Donnell, G Delany, K Sweeney, A Cummins, F McCormack, N Fitzgerald, C O’Donnell, S Ryan, D O’Meara, G O’Sullivan, E Laffan, R Thornton, S Walsh, J Prior, J Maher, J J O,Connor, S Nolan, S Murphy, E Cartey, D O’Brien