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U20s McCorry Cup
Sunday 24th March 2024 – Aviva Back Pitch

Exactly a month on from the last time these two teams played in Lakelands, but this time on the Aviva back pitch a fast start and a fast finish led to an altogether different outcome. There was a noticeable wind that played its part and it favoured the home team Lansdowne in the first half. But despite the conditions Terenure started the game with real intensity and intent. It is said in rugby that the forwards decide who wins a game and the backs decide by how much, never a truer word was said.

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The Terenure pack looked like they had been fed raw meat for breakfast – the collisions were ferocious, and Terenure definitely had the upper hand in the early exchanges. After turning Lansdowne over through some smashing tackles and a knock-on Terenure were looking to play with pace. The forwards carried hard and the backs moved the ball looking for space. Lansdowne couldn’t withstand the pressure.

Terenure took the ball through the phases and moved the ball wide to the right where James Clarke was on hand to score a great team try in the corner. Jim Kennedy missed with the very difficult conversion. Back came Lansdowne looking for their own score only for the ball to go dead for a 22 drop out. Jack Grimes went very quickly for a short drop-kick-chip to the attentive Fintan Dignam.

It looked like the powerful winger had some space, but I’m not sure anyone thought there was quite as much as he found. After some nice hand-offs and some nimble foot work Dignam eventually shrugged off all defenders to make it to half-way, after that it was just a foot race to the line and Dignam’s pace didn’t let him down. A remarkable try under the posts converted by Kennedy took Terenure to 12 points after as many minutes.

Lansdowne were never going to go easy and the rest of the half was played by the home team, controlling possession and field position. In truth Terenure were guilty of some loose defending and one or two missed tackles, but there are always ebbs and flows in games like this between two well matched teams and this was Lansdowne’s time to play. Lansdowne had supremacy on the day with their lineout maul and they put it to good use. Repeatedly their maul produced significant yardage and with patience they moved forward.

Through their maul or from forwards picking, they made their way forward and one converted try was followed soon after by another to get them in the lead. Back Lansdowne came again for what looked like another certain try as the first half minutes were running out, but some last ditch defence by Terenure held them up over the line. The goal line drop-out from Harvey O’Leary went straight into touch leading to a 5-yard scrum to Lansdowne. O’Leary certainly didn’t look happy with himself, but it only charged him up further to make a massive tackle on the Lansdowne scrum half at the ensuing ruck causing a knock-on which brought the first half to an end.

The second half started much like the first with Terenure having the upper hand for much of the early exchanges, but Lansdowne were not going to be stunned into submission like they were earlier in the game. Lansdowne were awarded a penalty and their scrum half looked to go quick. Terenure’s captain Oisín Shannon was retreating and after what looked like at least 5 meters he went to tackle the Lansdowne ball carrier. The referee wasn’t convinced and penalised Terenure for not being back 10 meters. To add insult to injury he also gave Shannon a yellow card. Lansdowne looked to play through their strong forwards to gain field position and following some strong carries they eventually forced their way over the line. It looked like they may have been held up but after taking his time to make sure, referee Sam Holt awarded the try which was once again converted to take Lansdowne into a 21-12 lead.

Shortly after the try Shannon returned, but Jim Kennedy followed into the sin bin after a high tackle. It wasn’t looking good for Terenure having fallen 9 points behind and playing with only 14 men. But left wing Dignam was not sharing that sentiment. As Lansdowne looked to move the ball wide on the right around half-way, Dignam had to make a tough call. He was outnumbered as the Lansdowne fullback and right winger came towards him at pace.

But Dignam feigned a step in towards the fullback looking like he was going to commit to the tackle and then stepped out quickly and raised his hand to tap the ball up… (it felt like time stopped as we waited to see if he could regather the ball or if it would drop and probably lead to another yellow…) and then it dropped, right into Dignam’s grasp and he raced away over the Lansdowne line to score his second try of the game, converted by Yago Fernandez Vilar. The score was now 21-19, game on! That score seemed to have energised the Terenure players with renewed belief. Back they came again to stretch the Lansdowne defence. But Lansdowne were holding them out. Terenure went one way, and then the other, there were no gaps.

The ball dropped to Fernandez. He stepped right, and then left seemingly unsure of which direction would be the best option. There didn’t appear to be anything on. But then showing calm and looking like he had all the time he needed he deftly chipped the ball over the Lansdowne defence towards the left wing for Dignam to chase. And chase he did, beating the retreating Lansdowne defence to the ball and kicking and gathering to race to the corner for his hat-trick. Terenure were back in font, leading 24-21. There was still 5 minutes left on Kennedy’s yellow card. And then just as he was to return Terenure were awarded a penalty. Terenure opted for the posts and Fernandez kicked superbly to split the posts and take Terenure into a 6-point lead.

Lansdowne were starting to tire and looked to their bench to freshen things up, but Terenure kept adding to the pressure and the home team were conceding penalties. After a hit in the air to Kieran Kelly Lansdowne suffered their own yellow card, and with 15 minutes to play Terenure sensed blood. They continued to pressurise Lansdowne and the penalties kept coming. Terenure went for the posts again and moved further ahead, 30-21. Another penalty, and another attempt at goal, 33-21. And then another, 36-21. The place-kicking from Fernandez was metronomic.

Despite a late consolation try from Lansdowne as the clock ran down Terenure were never in trouble. Their dogged determination and belief in each other produced one of their best team performances of the season. The excitement within this squad continues to build as they look forward to playing Dublin University in the semi-finals in two weeks’ time.

Terenure Team
1. Alex Cashman
2. Michael Murphy
3. Tim Staunton
4. Oisín Shannon (Capt.)
5. Kieran Kelly
6. Ultan Byrne
7. Sean Ruane
8. Darragh Brooks
9. Peter MacNamara
10. Harvey O’Leary
11. Fintan Dignam
12. Jack Grimes
13. Yago Fernandez Vilar
14. James Clarke
15. Jim Kennedy
16. Aaron Dorgan
17. Joe Lockhart
18. Evan Collins
19. Ben Nolan
20. Cillian Keaney
21. Oscar Morgan
22. Tom Murray

Referee: Sam Holt (ARLB)