To beat Garryowen is huge - Long

By Thomas Conway

Following an impressive showing against Division 2A counterparts Old Crescent, Nenagh Ormond approached this Munster Senior Cup quarter-final oozing with the kind of optimism that often accompanies the early season. Optimism, infused with real belief.

Saturday’s victory over Garryowen represented a golden moment in the history of Nenagh Ormond RFC. It extends the limits of the possible, and suddenly raises the threshold in terms of what this group of players might be capable of.

Initially, it hadn’t looked all that likely. Garryowen blasted straight into Nenagh from the kick-off, camping out just in front of the visitor’s 22 and hurtling themselves powerfully at the red and white wall. But that wall remained intact. Within a few minutes, Nenagh secured their first turnover, and from there, they burst into action. By the time the final-whistle had arrived, at around 4.00pm, there was an inescapable sense that, following a difficult and disappointing 2021/22 season, Nenagh had opened a brand new chapter. Speaking in the aftermath of the game, their Director of Rugby, John Long, didn’t underplay the scale of the accomplishment.

“To get to a Senior Cup semi-final is massive. To beat someone like Garryowen, in Garryowen, is huge, huge for this squad,” he said.

Somewhat like Nenagh, the Limerick outfit had a slightly uninspiring 2021/22 campaign, ultimately managing a seventh place finish in Division 1A. They would have approached this year’s Senior Cup with a determination to lay down a marker ahead of the start of the AIL, which is what makes Nenagh’s victory just that little bit sweeter. However, as impressive and exciting as this result is for the North Tipp club, complacency would be unwise. There are still plenty of lessons to be learned, there is still plenty of rugby to be played. Such was the message conveyed by Nenagh’s new captain, centre Willie Coffey.

“It’s nice to get a scalp off a 1A team, but our feet are still on the ground,” he said.

“We have a lot to build on now, we have a lot of boys to add back into that team as well, so we know we’re building something for the year.”

This win should deliver an invaluable psychological boost to a squad which, at times last season, seemed devoid of confidence. Nenagh spent much of their 2021/22 campaign searching for form and failing to find it. They’ve now managed to generate some serious early season momentum. Maintaining it will be crucial come the start of the AIL on Saturday week.