09 Apr 2018
It was a battle of 1st v 9th and promotion v relegation as Tullamore traveled to Thomond in Limerick, last Saturday.
Sitting second from bottom in the table, with 2 games to go, Tullamore needed at least a losing bonus point from Saturday's game to keep their hopes of survival alive.
The opening 10 minutes saw Thomond enjoy the majority of possession, with Tullamore struggling to turn over the ball. It wasn't until about 12 minutes in that the Tulliers finally clicked into gear when prop Matthew Murphy ran onto an overthrown line-out, gaining 20 metres in the process. This possession was short lived however, as the remainder of the opening half-hour was spent camped inside the Tullamore 22. The Tulliers showed some serious grit during this extended period of play, as they executed tackle after tackle in an effort to keep their hosts at bay. The pressure finally eased after 33 minutes, as second row and sometimes prop, Eamon Bracken emerged from the 22 with ball in hand and 3 Thomond defenders in pursuit. Bracken proceeded to boot the ball down the pitch, with a strong kick chase from his back line. Play resumed inside Thomond's half which was a great relief for the Tulliers after the preceding attacking Thomond phases.
It was the visiting Tullamore side that had greater scoring opportunity for the remainder of the opening half. The first of those being a penalty kick on the half way line, directly in front of the posts, which unfortunately dropped short from full-back Karl Dunne's boot. The second, further infield and to the left of the posts, meaning the two sides reminded scoreless at half time.
The second half resumed with Thomond applying some serious pressure inside the Tullier's 10 meter line. Serious credit much be given to the Tullamore pack and prop Ger Molloy in particular who made three consecutive tackles to keep Thomond out. 45 minutes into the match, the Tulliers had held up an impressive 3 tries. Just minutes later, the deadlock almost broke down the other end of the pitch, as flanker Ciaran Ennis blocked down a Thomond box kick, 15 meters out. Substitute Gavin Ridgeway made a great burst onto the ball, but unfortunately his offload to the oncoming Barry Bracken was deemed to be forward.
The momentum started to shift in the table toppers favour once again, as they made their way onto the scoreboard 5 minutes later, after some slick play which saw a grubber through from 25 meters out. The oncoming Thomond winger, beating the Tullamore defence with his pace. Now 7-0 down, the pressure started to mount on the visitors to perform, and perform they did. Props Murphy and Molloy were instrumental at the scrum, winning numerous penalties for the Tulliers which provided an excellent platform to attack from. Winger's Sean McCabe and Tom Gilligan demonstrated some dazzling footwork, leaving numerous Thomond defenders flat footed. The link-up between hooker Cathal Feighery and second-row Sean Rigney also worked out beautifully as we secured possession from numerous attacking and defensive line-outs.
The Tullier's dogged spirit and relentlessness was finally awarded after 68 minutes, as #8 Lemaki broke from the back of an attacking 5-meter scrum, to score to the left of the posts. Karl Dunne adding the much needed conversion to leave the two sides all square once again and the clock ticking on.
Just two minutes later, Tullamore winger McCabe was sin binned for an alleged dump tackle. The resulting penalty would have seen Thomond regain the lead, but to everyone's relief it sailed left and wide of the posts. Tullamore were dealt a further blow just minutes later as influential prop Ger Molloy, who made many important carries on the day, was also sin binned for a high tackle. The final nail in the coffin saw Thomond awarded a further penalty just seconds later, which their out-half duly converted to win the game 10-7.
Despite Saturday's defeat, due to the fact that they finished within 7 points of their opposition, the Tulliers avoided automatic relegation and depending on the result of next Saturday's encounter at home to Bangor, should they emerge with a winning bonus point, they could also avoid the round-robin.
Your support would be very much appreciated at 2:30pm this Saturday in Spollanstown in what promises to be an exciting game.