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Young Munster march on to Junior Cup final

By Aidan Corr
Munster Junior Cup semi-final, Clanwilliam Park:
Clanwilliam 20, Young Munster 22
FOR the second time in succession Young Munster waited until the final minutes to secure victory in the Bank of Ireland Munster Junior Cup and it took a penalty kick at the death, converted by out-half Paul Downes, to give them their ticket to the Easter Sunday final in Thomond Park.
Clanwilliam started with all guns blazing and, aided by a strong breeze, raced into a 13-0 lead. With 25 minutes played the Limerick side sprung Elie Mundu from the bench and after playing the full 80 minutes in Dublin 24 hours earlier when the senior team beat Clontarf, he quickly imposed himself on the game, scoring a crucial try on 39 minutes and Paul Downes’ conversion reduced the lead to 13-7 at the short whistle.
This was a typical Munster Cup affair and as the second half got underway so did the regularity of yellow cards. Splendid place kicking by Downes saw Young Munster claw back the lead and four consecutive penalties stretched the Greenfields side’s lead to 13-20. The semi-final also had its share of controversy and when Paul Allen robbed the ball at a ruck near his own line, the referee ran to the sticks to award a penalty try which saw Clanwilliam lead 20-19 with minutes remaining. Those final stages were nail-biting. Clan had a player sent off as they struggled to contain the ‘Munsters’ pack, a penalty was awarded and Paul Downes, as he did in the quarter final against Highfield, struck the ball straight and true between the posts to send the black and ambers supports home in jubilant mood.
It’s been a great campaign for the Young Munster coaching team of Ger Bourke, Gearoid Prendergast and Jerry Slattery and they now within one game of achieving back to back Munster Junior Cup victories for the second time in the club’s history.
Young Munster: TomMcHale; Kieran Coughlan, Jake Feehily, Cian Clohessy, David Gleeson; Paul Downes, Gary Fitzgerald; David Begley, Mark O’Mara, Paul Allen; Gay Hoban, Aaron McCloskey; Shane Fenton, Karl Madden, Mike Madden. Replacements, James Bourke, Conor Bartley, Elie Mundu, Jack Lyons, Niall Kelly.

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