THE concluding round of games in Division 2C of the Energia All Ireland League proved very dramatic at the final whistle at Towns Park following Midleton’s home victory, as both clubs wanted to find out results elsewhere that would decide their final position.
Midleton had to win with a four-try bonus point to avoid a relegation playoff, but failure to achieve this target means they will face Richmond on Saturday week at Towns Park to decide which side will be playing in the AIL next season and the other in the Munster Junior League.
On the other side of the pitch, Clonmel learned that Bruff had a dramatic bonus point win away to Omagh Academicals, which earned them the playoff place instead of the Tipperary side.
Both sides knew they needed a win and exchanges were very lively in the opening stages as Clonmel’s early pressure saw them take the lead with a penalty from out-half Josef O’Connor after seven minutes.
Midleton’s response was swift, with a long pass to center Aaron Leahy, saw him cut through the Clonmel’s defence to touch down, and Stuart Lee’s conversion made it 7-0 to the home side.
Clonmel were having the best of the exchanges in the forward battle, but a solid Midleton defence could not be breached.
Midleton's full-back Adam Moloney who was very solid under the high ball, and saw a long-range drop goal effort fall short.
On the stroke of halftime Clonmel’s enterprise was rewarded when Luke Hogan went in for a try for Clonmel and O’Connor converted to leave the scores tied at 10-10 each.
The visitors continued to dominate and regained the lead with a second O’Connor penalty fourteen minutes into the second half.
Again, Midleton responded; a yellow card for Clonmel’s Luke Hogan, saw Midleton’s numerical advantage pay dividends, Several drives by the Midleton pack saw Ryan Lehane barge over under the posts to score, and Lee converted for a 17-13 lead.
Clonmel knowing that they needed something from this contest began to throw the ball around and O’Connor looked like he had played in Clonmel winger Sean McEntegart, but the ball was knocked on.
Entering added time Lehane and Jack Colbert combined to send Josh Deady in for Midleton’s third try and Lee added the extras for victory.
A Leahy, D Lehane, J Deady tries, S Lee 3 cons, 1 pen.
L Hogan try, J O’Connor con, pen.
A Malone; J Power, A Leahy, J Colbert, C Lynch; S Lee, K Read; M Corby, D O’Sullivan, D O’Keeffe; R Lehane, M Stanton; F McCarthy, C Walsh, R Hickey.
E Lordan Bailey, C Smiddy, M McCarthy, J Deady, R Daly.
R Slattery; D Slattery, L Hogan, A Daly, S McEntegart; J O’Connor, A Sheehan; B Delicato, J Manua, DJ Brannock; T Cantwell, D Brannock; T O’Dea, D Devaney, B O’Dea.
M O’Toole, T Nugent, J Lonergan, C Bowen, A Hickey.
P Sheehan (IRFU).