The Great Escape
February 26, 2019
U18 Munster Cup
Ennis 33 Ballincollig 26
Ennis battled their way through to a Munster quarter final after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the dying moments of this game played in Lees Road on Sunday.
Ennis started well but failed to convert early pressure into a score and paid the price when Ballincollig scored with their first visit to the Ennis 22. In a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the game, Ennis struggled to stem the ball carrying of the bigger Ballincollig forwards and the Corkmen crashed through after a series of tight drives to take a 7-0 lead.
Ennis responded immediately by recovering the restart and Tony Butler exploited space in the back field to kick through and gather for a run in under the posts which Ethan Coughlin converted. This tied the scores at 7 apiece after 15 minutes. Ennis continued to dominate possession and territory and were further rewarded when Ross ‘O’Flaherty finished off a fine multi phase move to score in the corner.
Having established some level of control in the game, Ennis were then undermined by a yellow card and Ballincollig duly capitalised by mauling over from a 5m lineout to level the game at 12-12. The Ennis response was again immediate as Cormac Browne barrelled his way over from close range on the stroke of half time to give the home team a 19-12 lead at the break.
Upon the resumption Ballincollig ramped up their defensive efforts and succeeded in repelling everything Ennis threw at them to such an extent that the momentum in the game swung in their favour. Midway through the half they levelled the game up after another close quarter try by their forwards under the posts. This was quickly followed by an almost carbon copy try to extend their lead to 26-19.
Ennis were struggling and their commitment to running the ball at every opportunity was leading them up blind alleys and Ballincollig were thriving off their resolute defense. Given that they had also scored the first try of the game and would go through to the quarter final in the event of a draw, the odds were stacked against the home team as the clock wound down.
With 2 minutes remaining Ennis finally put boot to ball and established position in the Ballincollig 22. An infringement by the visitors gave Ennis a penalty which was tapped quickly and Conor Moloney stormed over for a converted try. 26-26 and with just enough time for the restart Ennis needed to conjure up something special to rescue their season.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ennis gathered the kick off, punched up twice and released the ball to Tony Butler on his own 10m line. A step and outside break took him around the despairing reach of the Ballincollig centres and with the full back left in a tangled heap from another step, he streaked away to score under the posts. Coughlin converted and the ref blew the game. They had pulled off the great escape. They now face a trip to Skibbereen in the quarter final this weekend.
15. Colm Kearney 14 Ben Ryan 13 Brian Crowley Hayes 12 Sean Keane 11 Jason Downes 10 Tony Butler 9 Ethan Coughlin 8 Conor Moloney 7 Ross O’Flaherty 6 MJ Malone 5 Brian Barry 4 Eoghan Hahessy 3 Cormac Browne 2 Joe Keane 1 Bence Benko
Subs; Ryan Murphy, Aidan Rolland, Evan Crowley, Darragh O’Callaghan, Hope Omiridion, Daniel Fogarty, Sean McGrath