It was a Shannon kick off in a sunny Cork as we took to the road last week to take on Dolphin in the return fixture and our last trip to Cork of the season. We were missing some regular faces in the encounter and took to the filed without Fionn McGibney, Greg O’Shea and Luke O’Dea. Duncan Casey was also a late withdrawal due to illness.
We gained a lineout from the kick off and threw to the back, getting the ball straight to the backs. Our forwards linked up with the backs and were on hand to crash the ball forward. As we reached the sideline we were bundled into touch with Dolphin taking a quick one. Dolphin kicked deep and Stephen Fitzgerald was on hand to recover, carrying the ball into contact. Keith Kavanagh got the ball back to Jack Stafford who kicked ahead into the Dolphin half. They recovered and kicked back, a scuffle in the following ruck saw a yellow card issued to Lee Nicholas after 3 minutes and Dolphin kicked to our 22. They kept the pressure on for a few minutes with the forwards making good ground and the backs running it wide. Nathan Randles put in a great hit to halt the attack and an injury to James Vaughan in the following ruck saw him retire from the game after 4 minutes replaced by John Foley. Dolphin were in possession of the scrum on our 22 and after gaining a penalty kicked to our 5 for a lineout.
They got clean ball from the top and spread they attack wide. The Shannon defence was quick off the mark and we fronted up, tackling man on man however Dolphin spotted the overlap and got the ball wide to score a try in our corner. The conversion was missed and the score read 5-0 at 7 minutes. We kicked off and gained a penalty when Dolphin came into the next ruck off their feet. Ronan McKenna opted to go for posts and was just unlucky as the ball pulled left of the posts. Dolphin kicked off and Stephen Fitzgerald gathered, running up and sending a supporting Will Leonard through a gap where he made a few yards before being tackled. We were then penalised for hands in the ruck. Dolphin kicked into our half, gaining a penalty on our 10. They again got the ball to their backs who passed through the hands and attacked up the opposite side of the pitch. Ronan McKenna stepped up and put in a great hit, that combined with our quick line speed and Dolphins deep passing saw the play retreat to inside the Dolphin half. Dolphin kicked the ball and it went out on the full.
We took a lineout on the Dolphin 10. Jordan Prenderville was accurate in his throwing, hitting John Foley who got secure ball to Keith Kavanagh. The ball was dropped back but Jordan did well to recover and a quick ruck saw us on the attack again. A penalty for not rolling away saw us kick to just inside the Dolphin half. We were unfortunate to knock on in the lineout but a quick reaction from our forwards, again saw us push Dolphin back when they were in possession. Tony Cusack hacked through a ruck to send the ball loose but Dolphin recovered and kicked deep. Stephen Fitzgerald again recovered and linked up with Jack Stafford who kicked to touch. Dolphin took the lineout just outside their 10. We stole the lineout and took the ball up in attack. John Foley carried us into the Dolphin 22 and we got the ball to our backs. Riley Winter made a good carry and passed the ball wide to Stephen Fitzgerald who was isolated and Dolphin were quick to steal the ball. Stephen Fitzgerald remained on the ground after this and it became apparent the he was injured and also had to leave the game, replaced by Darren Gavin. We had a penalty coming before the injury and this time Ronan McKenna made sure of it and slotted it over leaving the score 5-3 to Dolphin after 17 minutes.
Dolphin kicked off into the waiting hands of Brian Downey who took it up. Jack Stafford put up a Garryowen and Jack O’Donnell was quick off the mark to recover, linking up with John Foley who carried the ball in. Brian Downey was next to take the ball on and he managed to get us into the Dolphin 10. Quick ball from the back, saw Ronan McKenna off on a gallop, and he got back into the cover of his forwards who set up a solid ruck allowing Keith Kavanagh spread the ball wide as we relentlessly attacked the Dolphin 5. Unfortunately, we were penalised for holding the ball in the Ruck and Dolphin kicked to our 10 to alleviate pressure.
Dolphin knocked on in the lineout and we recovered, getting the ball to our backs but Dolphin managed to force the turnover and kick the ball. They missed touch and Keith Kavanagh kicked the ball deep. Dolphin recovered and took the ball back up to half way, knocking on the ball as they crossed into our 10. The scrum was reset and Keith Kavanagh took the ball at the back, kicking us on. A great Will Leonard Tackle saw them knock on again just inside our half. It was a solid scrum with Brian Downy picking and going and linking up with Jack Stafford who in turn sent Jack O’Donnell through a gap. Dolphin again managed to turn the ball over and they kicked back to Ronan McKenna who ran the ball back and managed to evade enough tackles to carry us inside the Dolphin 10. We kept the ball safe and were patient in our attack, using the forwards to crash the ball on when Nathan Randles got a hand to the ball and ran in a smashing try! We missed the conversion and the score read 8-5 to Shannon after 27 minutes. Dolphin kicked deep from the kick off and Riley took the ball from the air carrying the ball into contact. Jack O’Donnell again got a hand to the ball and made a break to just outside the Dolphin 22. We then gained a penalty for Dolphin not rolling away. Ronan McKenna stepped up and put the ball between the posts leaving the score 11-5 to Shannon after 29 minutes. Dolphin kicked off on the half hour mark and Keith Kavanagh recovered and returned. Dolphin dropped the ball back and managed to retain possession. They kept the ball with the forwards and crashed the ball up slowly making their way out of their half.
Dolphin kicked the ball gifting us a lineout on the half way. Stafford got fed quick ball and put up a box kick. As we contested for the ball we knocked it on and Dolphin were in possession of the scrum. Dolphin kicked from the back of the scrum, going to touch on our 22 where we hit Ronan Coffee in the lineout. We kicked in the next phase, but the ball went out on the full seeing us brought back to our 22. Dolphin took the ball in the air and their forwards covered back around as their back row crashed on. After a few phases, Dolphin were still in possession and moving towards our 5. Their second row found himself in possession and spotted a gap crashing over the line for a converted try leaving the score 12-11 to Dolphin at 36 minutes. We kicked off and Dolphin recovered, carrying it back into our half. They kicked on and we recovered with John Foley carrying well and our forwards keeping the ball tight. After we crashed it on a few yards we got quick ball wide to the backs and Ronan Coffee made a good break down the wing. John Foley was again strong in attack but the ref pinged us for coming in off our feet. Dolphin kicked the ball out signaling the end of the half. 12-11 to Dolphin.
Dolphin kicked off the second half and retained possession kicking into our 22. Ronan McKenna recovered and kicked the ball back to our 10 for a Dolphin lineout. Dolphin knocked on in the lineout and we scrummed down in possession on our 10. Quick ball off the backs saw our centers link up well and a good switch saw us moving forward but the ref called us back for a penalty. Dolphin kicked to our 10 for a lineout but again knocked on. We chipped through and came back for the scrum with Keith Kavanagh kicking from the back, Nathan Randles chased in anticipation and managed to gather the ball retaining possession. Nathan carried on the ball and carried us into the Dolphin half where we gained a penalty for Dolphin not rolling away. We kicked to their 22. We held possession from the lineout and were attacking well when a scrappy ruck saw the play halted as the ball was caught in the middle. We scrummed down in possession and chipped through in the following play, the ball came off a Dolphin boot and they recovered possession. Dolphin kicked ahead and we recovered, taking the ball up. Tony Cusack did fantastically at the break down but we were unfortunate to knock on. Dolphin were in possession of the scrum on their 22. They kicked form the back of the scrum and kicked to their 22 where we took the lineout. Dolphin stole the ball in the lineout and crashed the ball forward, kicking but not getting touch. One minute later it was another Dolphin penalty for Shannon clearing a player out of the ruck by the neck.
Dolphin opted to kick to our 10 and attacked through the backs from the lineout but our defence held tough. They attacked into space using the sidelines but didn’t gain much ground. Dolphin kept up their attack and Tony Cusack poached a great turnover, getting the ball back to Jack Stafford who kicked us to touch on our 22. Dolphin took the lineout and their scrum half carried the ball in. They got the ball wide and their scrum half did well to get back around and kick to our 22 for a Shannon lineout. We threw and got sacked as soon as Riley got to ground. We got the ball back and Jack Stafford put up a box kick but we were panalised for coming up offside. Dolphin missed the penalty at 58 minutes and the score remained 12-11 to Dolphin. Dolphin kicked off and carried the ball back into our half when we gained a penalty and Jack Stafford kicked us to our 10. Dolphin stole our lineout and mauled forward gaining good ground and were then awarded a penalty for a Shannon player coming in from the side.
Dolphin kicked to our 5 and set up a solid maul from the lineout having thrown to the front. They kept up their momentum and used it to carry them over the line for a 61st minute try. The conversion was missed but left the score 17-11 to Dolphin. We kicked off and Dolphin took the ball back up, kicking deep into our half. We fumbled the ball, knocking on in the process gifting Dolphin a scrum just inside our half. We were penalised in the resulting scrum and Dolphin kicked to just inside our 22. Dolphin again mauled from the lineout but didn’t use the ball and we were awarded a scrum on our 22. We got the ball back to Jack Stafford who kicked us to the half way line for a Dolphin lineout. Dolphin got a quick ball from the lineout and kicked deep, Ronan McKenna was on hand to recover and we attacked up the middle of the pitch. We retained possession but Dolphin turned over the ball, passing back into the cover of the forwards who crashed the ball down the pitch and into our 22.
As the forwards continued their attack the Dolphin 13 spotted a gap but dropped the ball going over the line. We scrummed down on our 5. We got the ball back and Jack Stafford kicked us to our 5 for a Dolphin lineout. Dolphin again attempted a maul but we were quick off the mark, sacking them and eliminating the threat. They again kept the ball in the forwards and attempted to set up a maul, dropping the ball in the process. We again scrummed down for a 5 meter scrum where we got the ball back to Jack Stafford who kicked us to our 5 for a Dolphin lineout. Dolphin threw to the front and kept the ball tight before spreading it wide. Their out half spurred on by their winger, put up a crossfield kick and Nathan Randles did fantastically well to chase down the player and put in a fantastic try saving tackle to touch. We mauled the ball from the lineout but were unfortunate to knock on just outside our 5. Dolphin recovered and as the clock edged closer to 8- minutes they continued to pick and go from the back of each ruck, hammering our line. Their relentless attack paid off and they went over for their bonus point try on the 80th minute. This was converted leaving the final score 24-11 to Dolphin.