Ardil Jennings reports on the Connacht Rugby U17 Development League Final:
Claremorris Colts U-17’s secured the Connacht league title with a hard fought victory over Erris RFC in Ballina on Sunday last. Weather and ground conditions in Ballina were not for adventurous rugby but both teams served up some excellent passages of play throughout the seventy minutes of football.
Claremorris attacked from the kick off and won a scrum which resulted in a couple of excellent line breaks by Brian O’Reilly and William Ganley. From a resulting line out catch by Joseph McDonagh who fed Liam Walsh who found Jack Ronayne in space who in turn found Phelim Brown who broke an Erris defensive tackle to touch down for the game’s opening score. Jack Ronayne converted to make score line 7-0 after 9 minutes. Brian O’Reilly gathered the restart and used the breeze to put pressure back on Erris with a long clearance. Jason Kelly and Ruairi Merrick followed-up the kick and put in a great double tackle before Erris could get an attack going. During this period both sides were guilty of a number of handling errors due mainly to conditions. One passage of play typified this segment of the match where Dylan Jennings stole the ball on an Erris line-out, found Jack Ronayne who kicked down field and as Erris tried to run ball out of defence, a great double tackle by Phelim Browne and Steve McGreal won a turn over for the Colts.
The North Mayo club finally put a number of phases together and nearly got through for a try but for some great defending by Alan Thornton, Ciaran Murphy and Barry MCGing. The Erris pressure finally paid off with the awarding of a penalty which they converted to leave scoreline 7-3 with 24 minutes on the clock. Erris now had the wind in their sails and put more pressure on the Colts and again were held out by some great defending on the line. Finally Claremorris won a turnover from Jason Kelly who fed Liam Walsh who beat his marker and released Brian Quinn who finally had a chance to show his pace which he did to great effect in beating a number of players out wide. He sold a lovely dummy before being grounded on the opposition 22. Conor Jordan following up on his shoulder collected and scored a great team try which Jack Ronayne converted to leave scores 14-3 after 29 minutes. This score coming after some long periods of Erris pressure without a score seemed to swing game in Claremorris favour. From the kick-off Claremorris attacked again and after some lovely passes through William Ganley, Rory Merrick, Jason Kelly and Phelim Brown won a penalty in front of the Erris posts.. Brian Quinn took a quick tap and go to release Liam Walsh to score under posts and with Jack Roynane converting on the stroke of half time it left Claremorris leading 21-3 at half time.
Any notion of Erris lying down were quickly dispensed when, within two minutes of the restart they were camped on the colts 10m line and finally get over for a well-deserved try which they convert ed. The game was then held up for 5 minutes due to a serious knee injury to Erris captain. When the game, resumed a late boot by a Erris player resulted in him being sin binned for 5 minutes during which time Claremorris seized the chance and drove forward and win another penalty for a high tackle. A tap-and-go caught the Erris players off guard and Brian O’Reilly scored a try which was converted by Jack Ronayne to leave score line 28-10 after 13 minutes of second half. Daniel McAlister replaced Rory Merrick and got involved straight away in a great double tackle with Phelim Brown to break the ball free which was kicked into touch off a Erris player. Joe McDonagh won resulting lineout, fed Liam Walsh who released Steve McGreal who, in a training ground move crashed over the line. Jack Ronayne again converted to leave score line 35-10 after 20 minutes of second half. Tomas Morris replaced Brian O’Reilly after 23 minutes. Again Erris showed great fighting spirit and broke up field and scored a great try but fail to convert. Phelim Brown gathered the restart and was finally taken down on Erris 2 m line where Tomas Morris, in doing excellent work in clearing out the ruck drove two players off the ball, the ball was fed out wide and after a number of passes found Joe McDonagh who scored in corner. Jack Roynane completed a 100 % scoring record on the day with resulting conversion. Henry Keane and Ryan McLoughlin who were now on as replacements, attacked the Erris line and forced another turnover. Claremorris from resulting free kick ran down last few seconds of clock to secure a historical victory .
Later Claremorris’s captain Brian Quinn accepts the trophy on behalf of his teammates and thanks Erris for a hard, well fought out game, he also thanked his coaches Kevin And Mike for putting in hours of work and effort. Finally he thanked all the loyal parents and supporters for given this team the chance to achieve what they have achieved.
Barry McGing, Ciaran Murphy, Alan Thornton, Dylan Jennings ,Joseph McDonagh, Jason Kelly , Phelim Brown, Stephen McGreal, Liam Walsh, Jack Ronayne, Conor Jordan, Brian O’Reilly, William Ganley, Ruari Merrick, Brian Quinn, Tomas Morris, Ryan McLoughlin , Danny McAlister, Bradley Hughes.