HIGHFIELD have booked their place in the second semi-final of the South Munster Under 16 Cup, where they will be at home to Kinsale as they saw off the spirited challenge of a gallant Kanturk side in last Saturday’s high-scoring quarter final at Woodleigh Park.
The home side held a lead of 40-19 entering the final quarter, but they had to withstand a late rally by Kanturk, which yielded 19 unanswered points to leave two points between the sides at the finish.
Kanturk, who were playing with a heavier pack, opened the scoring within two minutes of the kick-off when Dara Weathers was credited with a pushover try next to the posts, following a series of forward drives. Eoin Goggin’s conversion attempt was narrowly off target.
The Duhallow side promptly found themselves on the back foot as Highfield spread the ball out across the backline to Kaelan Susuico from a lineout on the Kanturk ten-metre line for a try next to the posts. Daniel Dineen followed it up with the simple conversion.
Kanturk laid siege to the home side’s 22 midway through the opening half as Cillian Saville was dominating the lineouts and Weathers was proving to be a handful in the loose. This pressure yielded a five-metre penalty, from which the North Cork side opted for a quick tap and Goggin put them back in the lead with a try, which he also converted.
The lead continued to change hands in the second quarter as Harry McEvoy put Highfield back in the driving seat with a try behind the posts in the 19th minute, following a penalty which they opted to run from their own ten-metre line. Dineen added his second conversion.
Kanturk replied instantly with a try in the corner from Aidan Buckley, which Goggin converted from a difficult angle.
The visitors were pinned back for the remainder of the opening half as bad handling was proving to be costly deep inside their own half. Highfield regained the lead when Dineen touched down behind the posts for their third try, which he also converted, to give his side a two-point advantage.
Highfield stretched the margin by a further five points with a try in the corner by Ryan O’Sullivan following a ruck deep inside the North Cork side’s 22 deep into stoppage time approaching the break. This gave Highfield a 26-19 half-time lead.
The Duhallow side had their moments early in the second half but solid defensive work by Highfield prevented them from putting points on the board.
Highfield were awarded a penalty deep inside their own 22 from which they opted for the line and the ball was spread out to Ryan O’Sullivan from the resulting lineout for his second try in the 42nd minute. Dineen converted to increase the home side’s lead to 14 points.
The home side put the game beyond Kanturk’s reach with a try by Susuico in the 49th minute, following a maul deep inside the visitors’ 22. Dineen added his fifth conversion.
Kanturk, to their credit, refused to give up without a struggle as they tightened up at the back and rallied to rescue the game. Buckley scored his second try following the restart, which Goggin failed to convert. This reduced the deficit to 16 points.
Darragh Tomkins scored two late tries for the North Cork side with time running out and Goggin converted both, while Highfield also missed a penalty in this period.
Daniel Dineen try, 5 cons; Ryan O’Sullivan, Kaelan Susuico 2 tries each; Harry McEvoy try.
Eoin Goggin try, 4 cons; Darragh Tomkins, Aidan Buckley 2 tries each; Dara Weathers try.
Finn O’Mahony; Harry McEvoy, Kaelan Susuico, Charlie Murphy, Ryan O’Sullivan; Daniel Dineen, Ronan Nangle; Evan Kelleher, Donal Bird, Fionnbarra McSherry; Daniel Ryan, Pablo O’Herlihy; Ronan McGovern, Zac Wallace, Joseph Healy.
Daniel Lennon, Sam O’Leary, Mark Byrne, Darragh Canny, Sean O’Brien, Niall O’Driscoll, Marcus Conroy, Billy O’Shea.
Donncha Bradley; Sean Murphy, Eoin Goggin, Aidan Buckley, Aidan Higgins; Callum McCarthy, Dylan Riemens; William Corbett, Oisin O’Leary, Dara Weathers; Patrick Murphy, Callum Saville; Luke O’Connor, John Angland, Darragh Tomkins.
Sean O’Sullivan, Casey Gaharan, Gavin Fleming.
Cian Aherne (MAR).