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Newcastle West looking forward to national cup semi-final

JUNIOR rugby in West Limerick has got a significant boost with Newcastle West’s advance to their first national cup semi-final in their 90 year history. They may have had a shaky start to their Munster Junior League campaign this season, but they are on the verge of major success following their victories over Enniscorthy and Enniskillen in this season’s All Ireland Junior Cup.
The county side’s 13-28 victory in the quarter final last Saturday was both impressive and emphatic and they will travel to nearby Kilfeakle on December 9th seeking a first national final appearance in their history. The other semi-final sees holders Ashbourne take on Ballina from County Mayo. Crosshaven remain the only Munster side to win this trophy in 2010.
In scrum half Sean Herlihy, NCW have one of the most consistent kickers in MJL1 and recent stats show that he has been successful from the tee on 22 of the last 24 attempts at the posts. Former Limerick hurler and Shannon RFC winger Stephen Kelly is another kingpin in the Newcastle West set-up. With an impressive try scoring record, his organizational skills within a backline whose average age is around 24, is proving crucial to the side and his brother James has also been impressive in this cup competition.
The club’s success has caught the imagination of the West Limerick town, better known as a stronghold of GAA, and there is sure to be an exodus heading for Kilfeacle next month for what will surely be a cracking encounter.
Urged on by the 50+ who travelled north from West Limerick, Newcastle West got the opening score last Saturday in Enniskillen, Sean Herlihy kicking a penalty after ten minutes. Eleven minutes later it was 10-0 to the visitors, Dave Foley crashing over to make it 8-0 before Enniskillen got their first score, a penalty on 23 minutes. Right from the restart, Newcastle West pushed their lead to 15-3, Stephen Kelly running through a hesitant home defence to get in near the corner, Sean Herlihy converted the try and the travelling support was well pleased with that half time lead.
Newcastle West lost Martin Mullane to the sin-bin soon after the re-start and Enniskillen took advantage of their numerical benefit, scoring a try to reduce the deficit to 8-15 on 59 minutes but up stepped Sean Herlihy six minutes later to push his side’s lead to 8-18.
A well-taken try by James Kelly, converted by Herlihy, put the result of this cup tie to bed at 13-25 and two minutes before the finish, Sean Herlihy capped a fine personal performance with his fifth successful kick of the afternoon.
“It was a fantastic occasion for the club,” Newcastle West RFC spokesman Ger Normoyle told us. “We have all our players back now after the GAA season and we are going well. We were well on top on Saturday for most of the game and we are now looking forward to the semi-final.”
Newcastle West lined out: Stephen Kelly; Damien Kelly, Sean Murphy, Brian O’Sullivan, Darragh Tracey; Tommy Kelliher (captain), Sean Herlihy; Shane Magner, Darragh Joyce; Alan O’Riordan; Dave Foley, Gerald Griffin; Keelan Head, Donal O’Sullivan, Martin Mullane. Replacements, Sean Corbett, Darragh O’Shea, James Kelly, Sean Ivess, Darragh Fox, Niall Kennedy, Darren Normoyle, Alan Roche, Jason Woulfe, Brian O’Doherty.

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