Alex Sheehan who kicked three penalties for Clonmel against City of Derry in the AIL League Division 2C on Saturday last.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2A
CITY OF DERRY 9 CLONMEL 6
While the wait for a win goes on, a young Clonmel team played well and came away with a hard-fought losing bonus point away to City of Derry on Saturday last. This was a good performance from an improving Clonmel team.
Clonmel kicked off into biting wind and after a game of kick-tennis Derry won an early penalty on the halfway line. Derry outhalf McDonnell soon kicked his side into a 3-0 lead from almost the halfway line.
In what was to become a recurring theme, Clonmel were pushed off the ball in the first scrum. However, the scrum was the only area where Clonmel failed to achieve parity or superiority.
After a quarter of an hour Clonmel knocked on the ball in a tackle and from the resultant penalty the Ulster side used their superior scrum to win a penalty to push them 6-0 ahead.
The tables turned temporarily and Clonmel won a penalty from a scrum, and Alex Sheehan took the points on offer to make it 6-3 to the home team.
Derry responded well and attacked down the right hand side in a sweeping move that was ended following an important interception by John Gallagher, who had a fine game and popped up everywhere on the pitch. Sustained Derry pressure was met by tremendous Clonmel defence. Derry won a penalty when the referee saw a deliberate knock-on.
Sensing blood, Derry took the scrum inside the Clonmel 22. After a number of scrums saw Clonmel forced back towards their goal line, Derry took a kick at goal and, on balance, were probably worth their 9-3 half-time lead.
Clonmel started the second half brilliantly and went on to dominate the next 30 minutes and created numerous scoring chances. A partially charged down kick was expertly gathered by Niall Campion, who made great ground up the wing before feeding Greg Carroll. An intelligent and well-executed kick by Gavin Whelan brought play up to the Derry 22. Clonmel lost hooker Mattie O’Toole to injury but he was ably replaced by Liam Ryan, who went on to have a fine game.
There followed many superb attacking moves across the width of the pitch from Clonmel. One such attack resulted in Jack Lonergan crossing the line and grounding the ball following an expert chip by Luke Hogan. However the referee adjudged that he was ahead of the kicker and Clonmel were denied the try Jack’s performance would have deserved.
Clonmel kept on massive pressure, including another high take by John Gallagher. Derry were under massive pressure and conceded a number of penalties, including one for a high tackle on Tony Cantwell after another strong run. The referee eventually lost patience and brandished a yellow card to the Derry centre.
It was all Clonmel at this stage, apart from a risky looping pass that was intercepted by the Derry winger. After a heartstopping second, Clonmel won back the ball and a penalty. Alex Sheehan wisely decided to take the points to make the score 9-6.
Clonmel were the better team for most of the second half but simply couldn’t convert possession into scores, despite living in the Derry half of the field. It was telling that the loudest cheers of the day came for a turnover by Derry, when they won a penalty and kicked into the Clonmel 22 for the first time in the half. We finish this report by remarking on the wonderfully friendly and warm welcome afforded to us in Derry. We look forward to welcoming them to Clonmel in February and maybe home advantage will reverse the narrow margin between these teams.
OMAGH ON THE WAY
So, a lot done - more to do and there are plenty of grounds for optimism for Clonmel as they look forward to the visit of Omagh on Saturday.
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