Creggs retain J1A League Title in Thriller V Connemara

Creggs retain J1A League Title in Thriller V Connemara

J1A LEAGUE FINAL
Creggs RFC 36
Connemara RRC 33
 
Creggs staged an amazing comeback in the final quarter to come from 12 points down to defeat Connemara in a brilliant game of rugby at the Dexcom Stadium in Sunday’s Connacht Junior 1A league final.Creggs looked dead and buried when Connemara led 26-14 midway through the second half but Creggs hit back with 3 superb tries from Mark Dowd, Michael Dunne and Chris Duignan to consign the shellshocked All Blacks to a heartbreaking defeat. Creggs played with the wind in the first half and withstood a lot of early pressure before Shane Purcell made a 60 metre break for a try after 8 minutes which he also converted. Connemara hit back with a fine try by Tommy Mullen after the restart but scrumhalf Mark Dowd broke clear for a great try for Creggs after a quick tap by Brian Diffley caught the All Blacks off guard. Shane Purcell landed a superb conversion from the touchline to put Creggs 14-7 ahead but Connemara attacked in waves and got over for another well-worked try after a series of rucks spreadeagled the Creggs defence. When Connemara sliced through for another try shortly before halftime the signs were ominous for Creggs. But the halftime break gave the Creggs team management a chance to regroup with the introduction of vastly experienced campaigners Peter Lohan, Tom Callaghan and later Tommy Curley to bolster the defensive setup. The linespeed improved in the second half but Connemara showed brilliant handling and footwork to run in another try to lead 26-14,with half an hour remaining.John OBrien was causing a lot of problems for the Creggs defence with his incisive runs but gradually the backs got control in the congested midfield area. Mark Dowd’s second try was a superb effort which sparked the Creggs recovery when he finished off a brilliant move in which James Brandon and Michael Dunne made the initial inroads into All Blacks territory.Shane Purcell’s conversion reduced the deficit to 26-21 but in typical fashion Connemara once again unlocked the Creggs defence for another try by winger Ian Heanue which lan Staunton converted with a brilliant kick. With just 12 minutes remaining it took a storming run by centre Eoghan Coyle to create the opening for winger Michael Dunne who he showed great pace and determination to skate over in the left corner.Shane Purcell hit a great conversion to narrow the gap to just 5 points 33-28,as the game entered the last 10 minutes. Connemara suffered a blow by conceding 2 yellow cards in those vital closing minutes as Creggs threw everything into attack and Creggs took full advantage when winger Chris Duignan finished off a sweeping backline move to level the game at 33-33. The drama wasn’t over yet with Shane Purcell’s conversion attempt rebounding off the post but he made no mistake when slotting a penalty from 35 metres when Connemara were penalised on the ground to put his team 36-33 ahead. Following the resumption of play,Ian Staunton missed a penalty kick which would have levelled the game once more. With 4 minutes remaining Connemara responded as they always do and mounted an amazing 36 phases of attack,
but Creggs held out with some tremendous defensive work from both forwards and backs before referee Jason Cairns signalled the end of a quite remarkable game of rugby which was played in a tremendous spirit by both teams. Creggs have now won 2 league titles back to back,and advance to represent Connacht in the upcoming AIL round-robin series. Connemara will no doubt lick their wounds and come storming back in the Junior Cup following this tough defeat. They tested Creggs to the limit with their all-action gameplan which involves all 15 players in attack.Creggs needed fresh legs off the bench from all eight subs to keep the league title in Creggs village for another season.Creggs:Mark Purcell,Michael Dunne,Jack Fleming,Eoghan Cahill,Chris Duignan,Shane Purcell,Mark Dowd,Eoghan Cahill,Danny Arnold,Sean Og Higgins,Ciaran Purcell,Tom Farrell,Ronan Cahill,James Brandon,Brian Diffley,Maurice Buckley,Tommy Curley,Michael Feeley,Peter Lohan,Tom Callaghan,Padraig Geraghty,Mark Brandon,Tommie Devine,Jack Tucker,Brian Cleary,Tommy OBrien,Mark Kilcommons,Luke Divilly
All Photos by Steve Fahey
Creggs retain J1A League Title in Thriller V Connemara
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