Mitchelstown RFC Vs. Thurles RFC – Munster Junior League
Mitchelstown RFC 7 – 12 Thurles RFC
The Thurles First XV travelled to Mitchelstown in Cork on Sunday last as they resumed League action for the first time since the Christmas break. It was a fine day at the Cork venue but with the poor weather conditions over the past number of months, it made underfoot conditions very difficult to contend with. Thurles kicked off the first half playing down the slight hill and started well, despite the poor underfoot conditions, the Thurles backs were making good ground in attack and were unlucky early on not to cross in the corner but for a last ditch tackle from a Mitchelstown defender saving the home side.
Thurles kept the pressure on in the opposition half & were reward with a penalty, Thurles pointed towards the posts but the kick dropped short, the Thurles chase, led by Dwayne Stanley, Mark Cummins & Ciaran Ryan put pressure on the home defence and forced a turnover. Thurles secured possession from the scrum and after some great work from the forwards, Eoghan O’Dwyer cut back on a great inside line and barged over to open the scoring, 0-5 to Thurles.
As the game restarted and progressed, a lot of the play was taking place around the middle of the park, the front row of McCormack, Nugent & Telford were holding their in the scrums despite the difficult conditions and Dwayne Stanley was leading the pack excellently, always looking for work and keeping the tackle count ticking over. The home side were rewarded a number of consecutive penalties which allowed them to bring play inside the 22. Following a number of lineouts, Mitchelstown eventually snuck over, Thurles had defended excellently but with the ground so cut up, it was almost impossible to get grip in the boots to stop the momentum of the home sides maul, they converted their try to sneak ahead: 7-5.
Following the restart, Thurles upped the tempo and controlled the game leading up to half time, the pack were combining excellently with the backs as Thurles put pressure on the home defence. The half time whistle arrived with the score still at 7-5, Thurles had three guilt edge chances to cross the line in the final 10 minutes of the half but the final pass let them down on each occasion.
Thurles received the kick off as the second half got underway, they picked up where they left off at the end of the first half. The second row pairing of Luke Kelly & Shane McHugh continued to blossom with both men carrying a lot of ball and both with high tackle counts throughout the game. The half back pairing of Holohan & Dwyer kept the back line fed with ball as they made their way up the field, looking to take the lead once again.
Thurles kept pressing the home line in search of a try, Conor O’Hagan was causing a lot of trouble in the centre ably backed up & supported by the back three of Coman, Maher & Sweeney who were dangerous in attack and defended well all day. Thurles eventually got the score they were looking for, a great team effort laid the foundations for Eoghan O’Dwyer who found a gap in the defence, he was stopped short of the line but like any good wing forward, Mark Cummins was on his tail to receive the pop up from Eoghan to crash over the line to the right of the post’s, Aidan Dwyer added the extra’s for the maximum, 7-12.
For the remaining quarter of the game, Thurles rarely got their hands on the ball in a position of any threat as a lot of the 50/50 calls were going in the way of the home side. Mitchelstown threw the kitchen sink at Thurles, who were reduced to 14 men twice in the final 20 minute period. Thurles were able to call on the quality of Shane Moloney & Stephen Kirwin in that period to add some fresh legs. Thurles to a man, defended like their lives depended on it and didn’t give the home side an inch, driving them away from the try line time and time again, whether from lineouts or scrums, Thurles shut Mitchelstown out. As the pressure told, the home side attempted to go wide, the excellent line speed from Thurles forced a knock on and drew a close to what was a great battle between two sides in difficult playing conditions.
This result moves Thurles into second position in the table, just 5 points off leaders Crosshaven, who were defeated last weekend, allowing Thurles gain some ground. Thurles’ next fixture in the League is a home tie against Mallow this coming Sunday with a 2.30pm kick off, all support would be greatly appreciated for this important fixture.
The players & management would like to thank the large travelling support who made their way to Mitchelstown on Sunday, it was great to have all the voices on the sideline during the final minutes of the game, it was much appreciated.
Thurles Scorers: Eoghan O’Dwyer & Mark Cummins (1 Try Each), Aidan Dwyer (1 Conversion). Thurles Starting XV vs Mitchelstown: 1. Ger McCormack 2. Shane Nugent 3. Seamus Telford 4. Shane McHugh 5. Luke Kelly 6. Dwyane Stanley 7. Mark Cummins 8. Ciaran Ryan 9. Seamus Holohan 10. Aidan Dwyer 11. Darragh Sweeney 12. Eoghan O’Dwyer (c) 13. Conor O’Hagan 14. Kevin Maher 15. John Coman; Replacements Used: Stephen Kirwin & Shane Moloney