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Garryowen continuing to fight for AIL 1A survival

By Pat Reidy
WHEN the touch judges signalled the successful conversion of a penalty by Garryowen captain Neil Cronin almost five minutes into second half injury time,the Garryowen team and entourage at Temple Hill dared to dream of a terrific win in their survival battle. It became a forlorn hope as referee Stuart Gaffikin indicated a final telling play as it happened.
However,the light blues surrendered the ball and territory from the restart and were forced back to defend their own line, sadly not successfully as Con’ got in for a late late seven pointer to take the game by 26 points to 20.It was a shattering denouement to a great performance by the losers, that stretched out to 48 minutes of second half play. Garryowen will argue the length of added time academic as it is now,it is a fully justified query. That matter was out of their hands, what was in their control though,was seeing out the game and it will gravely disappoint them that they failed to so do.
It was a cruel end for Garryowen to a fine game that yielded three tries apiece. The Dooradoyle side gave it their all and deserved better on the day as they took on the challenge of a strong Con side that threatened to overwhelm Garryowen at times. Garryowen held them at vital times and responded with brilliant creativity on occasion to complement their enduring qualities of determination and doggedness.
That horrible end to the game has seen Garryowen slip to ninth place in the league table with two games to play. The news that fellow strugglers Old Belvedere RFC and Terenure College RFC both drew their respective games garnering two points each in the process, only added to the dejection of the defeated side who only had the consolation of a losing bonus point to take home with them. The superior points difference of those “neighbouring” teams is also of concern, though all are in minus territory.
Garryowen will take some solace from the performance as they welcome Old Belvedere RFC to Dooradoyle on Saturday week next April 8th at 2.30 pm. This, it goes without saying, is a massive game and a must win for both sides. The short term future of both sides may well hinge on this tie.
The vanquished were enterprising from the off and led after just six minutes following a centrally situated scrum on the Con’ ten metre line, Garryowen worked a lovely foil and Neil Cronins precision pass coupled with Sam Arnold’s sublime line of running notched a confidence boosting try converted by Cronin. Con were dominating possession, but Garryowen were solid and forcing errors on them. Twenty four minutes in Con made it 3-7 from a penalty. Nine minutes later a wind assisted Garryowen clearance bounced interminably and went “dead”. The scrum back gave Con the opportunity to acquire a converted try to lead 10-7 but Garryowen rocked the much vaunted Cork outfit with a fine try a minute from the end of normal first half playing time. Swiftly using a penalty advantage, deft handling put Liam Coombes in wide out on the left the conversion sailed narrowly outside the upright. The last action of the opening half was a surprising missed penalty by Con’s Quinlan. 10-12 to Garryowen at half time.
The tie swung Con’s way in the early stages of the second half, two Quinlan penalties on 45 and 51 minutes respectively put the home side ahead 16-12. Con continued to enjoy most of the possession but it was Garryowen who struck next with a great score, Bailey Faloon’s dynamic break gave Andrew O’Byrne the time and space to put Neil Cronin into the corner, the same player’s touchline conversion attempt was again just off the target but the Limerick men were up 16-17. Con though regained the lead 19-17 through a penalty with six minutes remaining.
Everything to play for now and Garryowen were giving it their all with purpose and poise and earned a penalty four minutes past the second half forty. Cronin kicked it beautifully to put his side ahead 19-20.The kick was not followed by the full time whistle.
Garryowen lost the ball in midfield and paid an enormous price for it as Con availed of the situation to sneak the victory by 26 to 20. The subsequent reactions of the rival camps could not have been more contrasting.
Garryowen lined out as follows: 15. Liam Coombes 14. Steve Mc Mahon 13. Sam Arnold 12. Peadar Collins 11. Hugh O’Brien Cunningham 10. Andrew O’Byrne 9. Neil Cronin {captain}. 1. Niall Horan 2. Eamon Costelloe 3. J.P. Phelan 4. Sean O’Connor 5. Bara O’Byrne 6. Dara Shanahan 7. Mikey Wilson 8. Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: 16. Anson Thai 17. Mike O’Donnell 18. Tim Ferguson 19. Johnathon Keane 20. Jamie Heuston.
Referee: Staurt Gaffikin, IRFU.

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