Nenagh Ormond’s David Gleeson breaks through the Garryowen defence to score a try. Photos: Odhran Ducie

First half blitz guides Ormond to historic win over Garryowen

RUGBY: Bank of Ireland Munster Senior Cup Quarter Final

Nenagh Ormond28

Garryowen 22

Report: Thomas Conway in Dooradoyle


Player of the Match: Niall O’Gorman (Nenagh Ormond)

SCORERS – Nenagh Ormond: Tries: Gleeson, Buckley, W Coffey, N O’Gorman Convs: James Finn (4)

Garryowen: Tries: Clein, Delaney, Buttimer Convs: Delaney (2) Pen: Delaney

Nobody, absolutely nobody, saw this one coming. The Munster Senior Cup might only rank as an early season preparatory competition, and Garryowen might only have entered this fixture at seventy per-cent strength, but they play a different ball game in this corner of Limerick city.

History and tradition have fused to create a club rugby institution which has nurtured players like Tony Ward, Keith Wood, and Conor Murray. And so, for Nenagh Ormond to emerge from Dooradoyle with a victory was not just a major scalp, it was - for a relatively small country club - an immense achievement.

The victory was made possible by four beautifully constructed first-half tries, each of them converted with precision by kicker James Finn. Nenagh failed to score in the second-half. They spent much of the closing forty minutes camped inside their own territory, working to contain a Garryowen side which looked visibly perturbed at the final-whistle.

The strategy worked. Largely due to the relentless exertions of the Nenagh pack, Garryowen struggled to create inroads or viable scoring opportunities. They would eventually run in two late tries, having dotted down once earlier in the half, but Nenagh had done enough in the opening period to ensure their progression to the Munster Senior Cup semi-final.

Can they now go a step further? Certainly, on this evidence, they have both the attacking verve and the defensive cohesion. Something seemed to click last Saturday - as Willie Coffey, their 2022/23 captain, admitted after the game. They were forced to absorb an early wave of Garryowen pressure, but it culminated in a hard-worked Rob Buckley turnover.

From then on until half-time, Nenagh played a fiery brand of intense attacking rugby, full of quick movement and clever opportunism. Their first try, created, and finished by winger David Gleeson - who had just returned from holiday earlier that morning - was a perfect illustration of that style. The winger snapped an offload from scrum-half Nicky Irwin, then danced his way around several Garryowen shirts before pinning just right of the posts. Finn’s conversion was relatively straightforward.

His next one would prove a tad more challenging. It was made possible by Rob Buckley. Just moments after Garryowen winger Jamie Shanahan had almost made a fatal incision in the Nenagh line, the seasoned Nenagh flanker demonstrated his own attacking instinct, stealing possession some metres short of the 22 and shooting down the far wing. A quick acceleration, a slight pivot, and he was in. Finn knocked the resulting kick over from the side-line. 23 minutes gone and Nenagh were 14-3 to the better, a Jack Delaney penalty having provided the home fans with something small to cheer about.

By the time Willie Coffey had pummelled his way through to land Nenagh’s third try on 27 minutes, there was a palpable sense that a shock might be on the cards. Again, Finn was on target, and he came good a fourth time just before the interval, when prop Niall O’Gorman bundled his way over the line to touch down the fourth. Few had anticipated a half-time scoreline reading 28-3 in favour of the visitors, but so it came to pass.

The pendulum swung in the second-half, as Garryowen resorted to all-out attack in a desperate attempt to close the deficit. Max Clein’s 48th minute try could have prompted some sort of revival, but credit where credit is due, each and every one of the Nenagh pack, including the substitutes, rose to the challenge.

For the best part of twenty minutes, the game stagnated, neither side able to gain a foothold. Eventually, Jack Delaney would register the hosts’ second on 77 minutes, but Nenagh effectively had their work done at that point. A late break-away try from Henry Buttimer was certainly praiseworthy, but ultimately, it was a consolation score. The final-whistle sounded immediately after. A momentous victory for the North Tipp club. Perhaps it will mark the start of something.

TEAMS - Nenagh Ormond: James Finn (7), Keelan Stevenson (7), Willie Coffey (8), John Healy (7), David Gleeson (8), Derek Corcoran (7), Nicky Irwin (8); Mikey Doran (8), Dylan Murphy (8), Niall O’Gorman (8), Jack O’Keefe (8), Kevin O’Flaherty (7), Rob Buckley (8), Jake O’Kelly (8), John O’Flaherty (7).

Reps: James Meagher (7) for Buckley (HT); Peter O’Connor (7) for W Coffey (58); Joe Coffey (7) for Irwin (58); John Hayes (7) for J O’Flaherty (70); Rob Buckley for O’Gorman (73); Evan Murphy for Doran (73); Willie Coffey for Healy (75).

Garryowen: Jamie Shanahan (7), Ed Barry (6), Nick Greene (6), Bryan Fitzgerald (7), Henry Buttimer (7), Jack Delaney (7), Evan Maher (7); Max Clein (7), Dean Fanning (6), Ben O’Sullivan (6), Oisin Cooke (7), Scott Leahy (6), Johnny Keane (7), Mikey Sheehan (6), Seán Rennison (7).

Reps: JJ O’Neill (7) for Greene (41); Matthew Sheehan (7) for Leahy (41); Scott Leahy for Rennison (70); Darragh McCarthy (7) for Fanning (71); Larry Kelly for Keane (71); Rhys O’Malley for Maher (75).

Referee: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell