Ronan McKenna broke the heart of Nenagh Ormond at Lisatunny on Friday night when the Old Crescent out-half booted over three second half penalties to present the Limerick men with a narrow 9-7 All-Ireland League division 2A victory.
Old Crescent celebrated the success wildly while the Nenagh Ormond lads looked absolutely devastated at the final whistle - following a hard-fought and highly-entertaining contest McKenna presented his side with the lead for the first time three minutes into second half injury time.
In front of a bumper crowd the home side enjoyed an opportunity to reinvigorate their season, but Ormond struggled to contain their opponents for long stages of the second half and Old Crescent were deserving winners on the night. Indeed, the penalty count told its own story: Nenagh Ormond coughed up twelve in all and earned six.
This latest set-back represents Nenagh’s eighth defeat of the campaign and leaves Ormond fourth from bottom of the division with six games to go. Next up for Nenagh is a trip to Cork to face Dolphin on Saturday, February 23 while Ormond will already have their eye on Friday night, March 1 when they host high-flying Cashel RFC in a contest which is sure to attract another bumper crowd to the north Tipperary venue.
Cian Reale had an Old Crescent try ruled out as early as the fifth minute (double movement) and following a solid defensive effort from the home side Nenagh Ormond survived an early scare before applying some pressure of their own.
In the 15th minute, following a penalty earned at scrum time and a lively multi-phase attack, Evan Murphy beat two defenders with some terrific foot work and before Old Crescent could re-align the ball was swept out to Peter Coman who sat down a defender and played in Willie Coffey for an absolute beauty of a try which was converted by Alex Ropeti (7-0).
This was highly-encouraging stuff from the home side and especially from Peter Coman and Evan Murphy who were significant players for Nenagh Ormond on the night.
During the concluding minutes of the opening half Nenagh Ormond were extremely misfortunate on three occasions not to add to their tally - in the 21st minute John Healy knocked on right on the Old Crescent line following a Kevin O’Flaherty surge, six minutes later the Limerick lads defended phase after phase of Nenagh attacks before forcing a turnover and then, in the 32nd minute, Patrick Scully turned over the ball deep inside the opposition half and Willie Coffey was a fingertip away from getting his hands on Alex Ropeti’s clever kick through.
A brilliant Willie Coffey tackle denied Old Crescent a try in the 39th minute, but on the balance of play Nenagh probably deserved a more significant interval lead (7-0).
Old Crescent, however, improved significantly in the second half and on several occasions let themselves down with a series of knock-ons and crooked lineout throws.
During the opening seven minutes of the second half Old Crescent built three promising attacks, but knocked on each time while in the 50th minute Nenagh winger Darragh Flannery recovered well to smother Ronan McKenna’s grubber. Play was called back, however, for an earlier infringement and McKenna booted over the penalty (7-3).
Eight minutes later McKenna added another penalty to his side’s tally (7-6) as Nenagh struggled to get their hands on the ball for a sustained period of time.
In the 62nd and 64th minutes Old Crescent kicked to the corner and threatened to score game-clinching tries, but Nenagh held them out thanks to the respective heroics of Nicky Irwin and then an isolated Aidan Doyle.
Old Crescent paid another two visits to the Ormond ’22 in the 72nd and 78th minutes, but on each occasion the visitors failed to deliver a straight line-out and Nenagh supporters were left sighing with relief.
Entering second half injury time it appeared as if Nenagh’s defensive heroics had earned the home side a vital league win, but in the 83rd minute Ormond coughed up another penalty and Ronan McKenna landed a long-range effort which inspired the Old Crescent lads to punch the air with glee.
Nenagh Ormond RFC: Peter Coman, Darragh Flannery, Patrick Scully, Willie Coffey, Killian Gleeson, Alex Ropeti, Nicky Irwin, Fergal Brislane, John Healy, John Coffey, Kevin O'Gorman, Kevin O'Flaherty, Anthony Grey, Evan Murphy, John O'Flaherty. Replacements: Cian Comerford, Aidan Doyle, Niall O’Gorman, Ger O’Gorman.
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