ENNIS RFC have qualified for the quarter final of the Munster Junior Cup after a pulsating finish saw them defeat Tralee RFC in the very last play of the game.

Ennis travelled to O’Dowd Park in Tralee for the last 16 clash with the prize on offer of a rare visit to the quarter final of the prestigious competition.

Despite the scorching conditions, early exchanges were tight with Tralee – aided by a first half breeze – first to register a score on 18 minutes when Seamus Lyne put the Kerry side 3-0 ahead with a penalty. However, Ennis were the more dominant force early on and a period of sustained pressure paid dividends soon after when Ennis out half Sean Hayes scored a try under the posts which he would convert to put Ennis ahead, 3-7.

Tralee responded almost immediately and a strong drive from a line-out on the Ennis 22 led to a penalty try, putting the hosts ahead 10-7 after 25 minutes. A Lyne penalty would be the only other score of the first half, leaving Ennis with a six-point deficit at half time, 13-7.

Ennis hit Tralee with an crucial blow in the second half when Ennis scrum-half Cian Guilfoyle capitalised on a line-out overthrow and picked a line straight over the whitewash to put Ennis within a point, trailing 13-12 with the conversion missed.

A monster penalty kick by the Ennis fullback from 45 metres followed to put Ennis ahead 13-15 less than 10 minutes into the second half. However the seesaw nature of the match continued as Tralee began to put phases together in the Ennis half and another good drive from a line-out couldn’t be stopped by Ennis, with Tralee No8 Daniel O’Connor going over from close range to put Tralee 18-15 ahead. The Kerrymen looked to be in the ascendency as on 62 minutes, another try from a penalty advantage scored by Ben O’Neil would leave the score at 23-15.

However Ennis remained persistent and stayed in touching distance with a penalty following a ruck infringement to leave it at 23-18, back to a one-score game.

With Tralee looking to see out the victory, it would come down to the very last play of the game when Ennis open side flanker MJ Malone charged down a learning kick and picked up the spilled ball to run under the posts unopposed. A successful conversion meant it was a memorable win for Ennis, 23-25, and a first trip to the Munster Junior Cup quarter final in decades.

ENNIS: Colm Kearney; Michael Savage, Evan Wood, Ben Quinn, Mark Cabey, Sean Hayes, Can Guilfoyle; Bence Benko, Brendan Cleland, Ruairi Quinlan, Conor Fitzgerald, Cormac Browne, Conor Henshall, MJ Malone, Brian Barry; (replacements) Alan O’Shea, Ryan Murphy, Joe Boyle, Stephen Dolan, Calum Barrett

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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