O’Brien Cup Final
High School Clonmel 13 – Intermediate School Killorglin 12
When Munster beat the All Blacks in Thomond Park in 1978 those lucky to be in attendance witnessed a truly historic moment. On that occasion it was the great heart and determination of the Munster men that won the day. On Friday 12 th March 2004 at Ardgeeha, home of Clonmel RFC, it was the lads of the High School Senior Rugby team who had all the heart and determination to come from behind in the ninth minute of injury time to clinch their first Munster Schools Rugby title, the O’ Brien Cup. High School captain Brian Mulvihill settled his team with some good positional kicking. By now the High School backs were getting into gear. Kevin Harney and George Barrett in the centre began to test the Killorglin defence. The High School forwards focused on their job from the start.
The lineout settled quickly with hooker Ciaran Burke finding Phillip Bannon at two and David Cosgrave at four. This gave the High School the possession and platform they needed to keep the pressure on Killorglin. This paid off after twelve minutes. Following a good take by Phillip Bannon in the lineout, the ball was whipped out the back line to High School wing Richard Anderson who raced over the line in the corner to score his and the High School’s first try of the day. The home crowd went wild. In the second half, Intermediate School came at the High School determined to hold onto the O’ Brien Cup.
They pinned the High School in their twenty two. But the High School defence held. Shane Gazely, Kevin Price and Stephen Pyke showed great resilience spoiling Killorglin ball. Stephen McGrath at scrum half tackled and drove back players twice his size. On fifty minutes following a good take by David Cosgrave in the lineout on the Killorglin twenty-two, Stephen McGrath passed the ball to Mulvihill who slotted over a peach of a drop goal. The score was now eight points to nil to the High School and the home team should have pressed to consolidate their lead. Instead, the Intermediate School showed why they won this competition for the last two years.
On sixty minutes a looping move from broken play saw Killorglin number eight Gearoid Healy crash over the line for his first try to the delight of the travelling fans. When outhalf Tomas O’ Hagan slotted over the conversion, the score was eight points to seven with quarter of an hour to go. The High School went searching for a score to extend their narrow lead. With the clock ticking down it looked like the High School might have just done enough. But the Intermediate School were not finished. In the first minute of injury time, number eight Gearoid Healy broke from the back of a maul, beat his marker to score his second try in the corner. The home side were stunned into silence while the Killorglin fans were ecstatic.
The score was now twelve points to eight in Killorglin’s favour. It was an epic contest. Another team would have given up; another team would have been happy with second place. Another team, yes, but not this High School team. There was still time. There was still hope. There was still belief. There nerve of the crowd was close to breaking point. Brian Mulvihill rallied his troops and pumped the ball deep into Killorglin territory. From a lineout inside the Killorglin twenty-two David Cosgrave caught a superb ball to give the High School a promising platform for attack. The pace was breathtaking. Kevin Harney, Shane Gazely, Stephen Melbourne and Brian Mulvihill all went searching for a gap in the Killorglin defence. But the tackling from Killorglin was ferocious and there looked to be no way through for the High School. Time was slipping away.
The match was entering the ninth minute of injury time. Something special had to happen. After six phases, High School scrumhalf Stephen McGrath fed Brian Mulvihill who released Richard Anderson on the blind side and the winger sprinted in to score the winning try. Then the final whistle! Such scenes have never before been seen at Ardgeeha. The High School team was engulfed by their supporters. It was a fairy tale ending; it was a late late show; it was the stuff of legend. The High School coaching staff of Brendan Mullan and Joe McGrath was jubilant. Mr. Tony Smith from Munster Branch presented the O’Brien Cup to the High School captain Brian Mulvihill to rapturous applause and cheers.
One should put this victory in context. Rugby is a relatively new sport in the High School, which has a long and proud tradition in Gaelic games. But even though the ball was oval on Friday, every player wearing a black and red jersey did so with pride. They carried on that tradition of playing with great heart, spirit and determination. It is a fantastic achievement. Well done to all involved.
The First Year League is up and running with a complement of six full teams: the All Blacks, the Wallabies, the Springboks, the Barbarians, the Lions and the Pumas. The games so far have been fast and furious with great enjoyment being had by all. Hopefully in years to come many of these players who have recently taken their first steps on a rugby field will represent the school at Junior and Senior level. Best of luck to all involved.
The Junior Rugby team have been training very hard all year. In March they played Newtown School from Waterford in a friendly. Captained by Barry Molloy the whole squad of thirty five players put in a great performance and showed great heart. Those still under fifteen next year can look forward to participation in the Munster Junior Cup and associated competitions. It is important for our junior players to keep up their commitment and dedication, as they are the future of rugby in the school.
The Junior Team are training in preparation for competition in the New Year. Great progress is being made as the players are learning new skills each week and are growing into a very good team.
The Senior Team participated in the Coca Cola Munster Senior Schools Cup. In the first round they made the long journey to Cork to play Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig. In a fast and exciting game, High School emerged victors in a score line of 28-10. The try scorers for High School were Kevin Harney, Tony Ryan and Brian Mulvihill. Mulvihill also kicked two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal. The whole team must be commended for their discipline opn the day: they were a credit to the school.
In the second round they played Bandon Grammar School in Clonmel and put in a very good performance. They wore the jersey with pride and never gave an inch in a very hard game. The try scorers for High School were Bryan Cairns and Daniel Lyne.
David Lonergan kicked a penalty and two conversions.
The team have now qualified for the O’Brien Cup, which will commence in January. Based on the performances to date high School can certainly look forward to doing well in this competition.
The Senior Panel for the year is:
Kevi Price, Ciaran Burke, Graeme Fox, Stephen Pyke, David Foley, Shane Gazely, Stephen Melbourne, Philip Bannon, Stephen Mc Grath, Brian Mulvihill (C), Tony Ryan, Kevin Harney, Richie Anderson, Conor Slattery, David Lonergan, Gary Egan, Tim Ryan, Bryan Cairns, David Cosgrave, Eoin Karr, Daniel Lyne, Barry Moloy, Alan Power, John Burke, Jason Guilfoyle, David Burke, Richard Meddick, Jonathan Gibbons, Gerard Mullane, Neil O’Brien and George Barrett.
Munster Senior Visit
In early November, Clonmel R.F. C. had the privelege of hosting a Munster Senior Squad training session. Among the many stars present were Munster captain Jim Williams and former All Black Christian Cullen. The occasion gave several of the High School Senior Rugby Team the opportunity to meet their heroes and they were certainly not disappointed.