Sunday’s Well were defeated by Ennis Black in their nail-biting opener in the Boys Bank of Ireland Munster U18 Cup at Musgrave Park on New Year’s Eve.
Ennis are at home to Young Munster in their next game, while Sunday’s Well travel to West Cork to take on Bantry Bay.
This game went down to wire in the final quarter, as Ennis, who have been one of the more prominent sides of recent years, took the lead for the first time in the contest with a try by Sean McDonagh, which was converted by Luca Cleary, to put them 20-17 in front.
The home side equalized with a penalty by Jamie O’ Connell, but the result was sealed with a last minute try by Michael Sweeney, which Luca Cleary also converted. The Banner County side then had to withstand a late rally as Sunday’s Well sought to rescue the game.
The home side dominated proceedings territorially in the opening half, while the Clare side’s first try shortly before the break moved them within touching distance, before Ennis seized the initiative in a scoreless second quarter.
Playing with the aid of a slight breeze, Sunday’s Well had the Banner County side pinned back from the kick-off as they looked to spread the ball out wide, but a handling error short of the line was to be their undoing.
The home side continued to pose problems for Ennis with their expansive game as O’Connell and Josh Bartlett embarked on some surging runs on the wing. The scoring was opened in the seventh minute when O’Connell dived over in the corner following a soccer-style dribble for the game’s opening try.
Ennis opened their account four minutes later, when Luca Cleary converted his first penalty from outside the home side’s 22.
The Banner County side promptly found themselves back on the defensive as counter-rucking inside the Ennis 22 yielded the home side’s second try next to the posts for Ewan Kennedy, midway through the opening half. O’Connell followed it up with the simple conversion.
Ennis began to spread the ball out across the backline entering the second quarter. They were awarded a penalty outside the home side’s 22, which Luca Cleary slotted over in the 18th minute.
Four minutes later, Ciaran Maguire scored a try for the home side following a maul, before the Clare side took a grip on proceedings.
Andrew Purcell and Daniel Humphries were dominating the lineouts for Ennis and Mayomikun Omoniwa and McDonagh were prominent in the loose.
The Clare side reduced the deficit to four points when the ball was spread out across the backline to Brendan Keane for a try in the opposite corner, following a free kick for a scrum infringement by the home side. Luca Cleary converted from a difficult angle.
Ennis continued to have Sunday’s Well on the back foot as errors in lineouts were proving to be costly for the home side. Jack Dillon came close to scoring a second try for the Banner County side when he was tackled to touch short of the line just before the interval.
This left the half-time scoreline reading 17-13 in favour of Sunday’s Well.
In a scoreless third quarter, the Banner County side upped the ante as they laid siege to the Sunday’s Well line. Ennis were awarded a penalty on the Sunday’s Well 22, from which they opted for the line, but a throwing error was to be their undoing. The home side continued to play open running rugby following the resulting scrum, but the Banner County side were awarded a penalty on their own 22, which set the scene for a dramatic final quarter.
Jamie O’Connell try, pen, con; Ewan Kennedy, Ciaran Maguire, tries.
Luca Cleary 3 cons, 2 pens; Brendan Keane, Sean McDonagh, Michael Sweeney, tries.
Conor Downey; Josh Bartlett, Lee O’Keeffe, Zak Davidson, Jamie O’Connell; Ciaran Maguire, Conor Davis; Rohan Ranga, Ian Kenny, Jack Morrissy; Alex Ryan, Mikey Mullins-Turner; Mikey O’Connell, Darragh Miller, Ewan Kennedy.
Eric Leach, Jamie Lynch, Ben O’Sullivan, Eoin O’Mahony, Joseph Hennessy, Conor Limrick.
Odhran Flynn; Jack Dillon, Brendan Keane, Sam Scanlan, Luke Kennedy; Luca Cleary, Marco Cleary; Caoimhin Enright, Jonathan O’Donoghue, Michael Sweeney; Daniel Humphries, Sean McDonagh; Mayomikun Omoniwa, Andrew Purcell, Eoghan Daly.
Nicolis Roos, Tenison Ogunseri, John Sweeney, Darragh Hurley, Victor Amouzou, Colm Killeen, Aaron Malone.
Mark Callanan (MAR).