Connemara 12 County Carlow 10
On paper this match did not have a lot going for it; both teams clear of the drop zone and out of the running for the playoffs. But these are two teams with pride in their clubs and this match was about pride.
County Carlow, a club founded in 1873 is a club with a proud tradition having been to first Division and having many famous names at the club over the years. Connemara founded in 1973 and in that short time made its way to senior rugby to get the opportunity to play clubs with a tradition like County Carlow.
The game started in a very lively fashion with play going from end to end but Connemara soon took control of the game and had 70% of the possession in the first half but this was not being converted into scores.
In the league to date Carlow had only conceded 161 points in 13 games. Table toppers Bruff and fourth place Banbridge have conceded less so it was never going to be easy for the visitors to put scores on the board.
Connemara were unlucky not to have scored a few times in the first half and especially when young Peter O’Toole looked to be in at the right hand flag but was not given as it was not seen by the Referee Dave O Flynn.
Carlow were first to score against the run of play with an 11th minute penalty by Greg Jacob. Connemara made it 3-3 with a Troy Nathan kick in the 17th minute.
Connemara went ahead in the 34th minute again from the boot of Troy Nathan, 6-3 Connemara.
Then at the worst possible time in a game and against the run of play Carlow took advantage of an injured Connemara man to go in for a try in the 41st minute of the game, 10-6 Carlow as the referee called half time.
In the 46th minute Connemara were back in to within a point with another kick from Troy Nathan, 10-9. Connemara were playing well but not having any luck. Good moves were breaking down and Carlow were preventing open play as they have done well all season.
This match was going to go down to the wire but as tight as it was you always felt Connemara were the better team on the day and would come out on top, but points win matches and they were hard to come by.
In the 64th minute Connemara were awarded a penalty it was 30 yds plus out and with a nasty bitterly cold wind blowing across the pitch the pressure was on. Troy Nathan had been kicking all day with about 50% success. Some of the kicks he had kicked were well into the Connemara half of the pitch. However, Paddy O’Toole stepped up and slotted home this vital kick 12 -10 to Connemara.
This was how it finished and the smaller than usual Connemara band of loyal supporters had got their reward for their long journey to Oak Park on this bitterly cold day. The journey home was made much easier with the four points in the bag and now in 9th place with a match in hand. Connemara could still end the league just outside the top four all going well . However 2nd place Instonians will be a big test next week when Connemara makes the long journey North.
Connemara 33 Ards 13 8th March 2008
Connemara went a long way towards securing their place in AIL division 3 with great win over 5th on the table Ards in a very wet and blustery Monastery Field. This was a postponed fixture that was fixed to clash with the Ireland-Wales game which meant that due to weather and the International match the crowd was well down on what would be expected for a fixture of this importance.
In one sense the result was not such a great surprise as Connemara have been playing well in the last few games, narrowly beaten by table toppers Bruff and Banbridge and a good away win against Derry City.
Connemara were playing into the strong wind in the first half and started well Ards looked very ordinary in the early stages despite the fact that they had a huge pack and were playing with a very strong wind .
The Connemara plan was to keep the ball in hand against the wind. This they did and it seemed to work but at times they seemed to be living dangerously. However, they went ahead with a Troy Nathan penalty and this was followed by an excellent piece of play which saw John O’Brien sprint in on the right after some excellent play by Sean Joyce and Paddy O’Toole who drew his man before giving O’Brien the ball for a first class try.
This was no more than Connemara deserved. The conversion was missed leaving the score 8-0.
At this point Ards seemed to wake from their slumber and started to play the rugby that saw them beat Rainey OB 46 -27 in their last outing.
They were rewarded with a penalty leaving the score 8-3. At this stage Ards took over and sensing their dominance decided to go for touch on a few occasions when they might have taken the points.
At half time the home side lead 11-3.
Within minutes of the second half Connemara were in for a second try from Alan Keogh after some great handling by Connemara, score 18-3.
Things were looking good at this stage but Connemara seemed to rest on their laurels and things started to go wrong or at least things were not going well. They conceded penalty after penalty and before Connemara knew what was going on the score was 18- 13. This came from a well worked try which was converted and a converted penalty. Ards were right back into the game. For a while Connemara was under the cosh but a penalty in 25th minute of the second half put a bit of light between the sides, 21-13. Ards now started to show some of the skills that got them to 5th spot on the table but despite their best efforts they failed to break down the home defence.
With only 3 minutes of normal time to go Emmett Ferron got in for a try leaving the score 26-13.
Could the home team do what they had failed to do all season and collect a bonus point for 4 try’s?
Ards were not giving up and were putting on a lot of pressure on the home defence when Kevin Keogh intercepted a pass and made a break for the line he was supported by the ever alert and youthful Bernard Keaney who took the pass and went in under the post for the all important try which was converted by Troy Nathan. The ref blew the final whistle and with the score 33-13. It was a great day for rugby in Connemara and almost certainly ensures Senior Rugby will continue at the Monastery field next season. (P. Walshe)
Congratulations to Dermot Nee who won first prize in the Connemara RFC members draw for season 2007-2008. Dermot won two tickets to the Ireland v Wales RBS 6 Nations International match on March 8th 2008.
(L-R)- Tim Hickey (Membership Secretary), Charlie Bourke (President, Connemara RFC) presenting two tickets to Ireland v Wales international match to Dermot Nee (winner of member’s draw), Rory O’Toole from EJ Kings Bar and Restaurant, Main Sponsor to Connemara RFC.
Ballinasloe 10 Connemara 22
We started poorly when conceding a very soft try after 3 mins. We knuckled down and after several good phases of play we were awarded a penalty just outside their 22. Shane Sweeney converted to make the score 5-3 to them. The rest of the half was an intense battle between the two packs with their pack just shading it. Some great line kicking by Shane and good breaks by Jack Vaughan, Cathal Molloy, John Mannion and Eoghan Kilkenny kept us in it. Just before half time we turned ball over from a ruck and Derek Heanue hared off down the blindside to score a fabulous individual try from 40 yards out all the way under the posts. Shane Sweeney converted to leave the score 10-5 at half-time.
We started the second half strongly with some good rucking by Scott Vallely, Colin Reilly and David O’Reilly. Alan O’Malley and Eugene Conroy took on some good ball. Ian McDonagh then broke from a ruck and burst over their line for a fine try. Shane missed the conversion to leave the score 15-5 in our favour. Our lads relaxed a bit too much at this stage, allowing Ballinasloe back into it. After giving away a succession of stupid penalties, we turned our backs on their no. 8, as he took a fast penalty. He was gone twenty yards before he brushed off the first pathetic attempt at a tackle. Three worse attempts at tackles left him through to score an unconverted try. 15-10, game on. Ballinasloe knew they were well in it but some good line breaks by Jack Vaughan and Ciaran Molloy kept them out of our half. Also, we had the strengthening breeze which Shane used very well to keep them pinned back in their own 22. Some very poor tackling led to breakouts but we held on. The ball squirted from a ruck near their line and Thomas Roche dived on it for a lucky try. Shane converted to put a gloss on the final score. Good win. Away to Monivea for the semi-final next Sunday- all support welcome!!