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Bulls U16’s pipped by Connemara in superb Connacht Cup final

Bulls U16’s pipped by Connemara in superb Connacht Cup final

Sunday 14th April 2013 Tuam.

 

Given the windy condition in Tuam last Sunday it was always going to be a game of two halves. Connemara won the toss and decided to play with a very strong breeze at their backs for the first half. From the kick off it was clear Connemara were going to utilise their big pack to punch holes around the fringes with lock, Shane Laffey and number 8 Aaron O’Donoghue prominent. After 3 minutes Westport first half challenge was made more difficult when Brian McCormack was harshly yellow carded for a high tackle – harsh given that it appeared only chest high, the difficult condition for all players and the game was just settling down.  Despite Westport being down a man and playing against the strong wind Connemara were been thwarted by players such Chris O’Donnell, Ross Prendergast, Jim McNicholas, Colin Coyne, Conor Madden and Stephen Staunton putting their bodies on the line with superb tackling. However just before Westport were to be restored to 15 men Connemara lock, Shane Laffery burst over the line for the first try of the game.

Westport shook of this disappointment and with players such as Darren Browne, Brian McCormack, Liam McNulty and Brendan McLoughlin to the fore forced the Connemara team deep into their 22 and indeed were unlucky not to force a try – denied by a knock on just as they were ready to ground the ball. A big boot from Connemara out half Nicholas Joyce from his own 22 forced the play into the Westport 22, Westport defense were unable to reorganize quickly enough and Connemara winger Emmet Moran scored their second try. Connemara full back Emmet Moran missed the conversion from a difficult angle. The first half ended with Westport pushing Connemara back into their 22, however the hoped for score against the strong wind failed to materialize.

The start of the second half was accompanied by heavy rain which impact Westport ability to use their exciting back 3 of Ryan Moran, Paul Moran and Paul Prendergast and much of the good work was done by forwards Jim McNicholas, Brian McCormack, Peter Spellman, Darragh Walsh and Darren Browne. As the game entered the final quarter Westport gained their much deserved breakthrough, clean ball from the forwards allowed scrum half Conor Madden to feed Sean Ryder, who stepped inside his man and had too much pace for the covering Connemara players to score a great individual try. Sean Ryder converted his own try and Westport had 15 minutes left to try to score another try & surely win the game.

The full blooded nature of the game was having it tool with players from both sides needing attention for their many bumps and bruises, Conor Madden’s injury required Westport to re-organise their back line with Harry Langan coming in on the wing, Tim Costigan moving to scrum half and Paul Prendergast moving into second centre. As the game entered the last 5 minutes it was clear the only team who would score was Westport, however the big question was could Connemara hold out. A sweeping move by Westport saw the ball go through the backs to Harry Langan who was on his way to the line only for the referee to call him back for a forward pass. If Westport were going to lose out it would not be for the lack of effort – each and every forward drove the ball up. Connemara’s only way of stopping the Westport onslaught was to give away penalty after penalty.

With 2 minutes left the referee lost patients with Connemara and he yellow-carded Connemara’s Aaron O’Donoghue. The game ended on the Connemara line as Westport’s Tim Costigan appeared to ground the ball only for the referee to judge that the ball was held up. The final whistle was greeted with elation by Connemara and desperation by Westport, however all that watched enjoyed a superb game that showcased the extrodiardary commitment and skill from both teams.

Westport Team: Brendan McLoughlin, Jim McNicholas, Darragh Browne, Colin Coyne, Liam McNulty, Ross Prendergast, Chris O’Donnell, Brian McCormack, Conor Madden, Sean Ryder (Capt.), Ryan Moran, Stephen Stauton, Tim Costigan, Paul Prendergast, Paul Moran

Subs.Ross Bourke, Ronan Price, Peter Spellman, Darragh Walsh, Fionn McDonagh, Harry Langan, Aidan Walsh,

 

Connemara Team: Peter Lee, Rory Ward, Dylan Keaney, Shane Laffey, Dillon King, Paul Lee, Dylan Barry, Aaron O’Donoghue, Thomas Mullen (Capt.), Nicholas Joyce, Thomas Mannion, Henry O’Toole, Brendan Regan, Jack Gavin, Emmet Moran,

Subs.Dylan O’Neill, Kevin King, Fionn McAleer, Liam Wlodarczyk 

Full gallery of Photos from the match courtsey Conor McKeown Photography;

 

 

 

 

 

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