Junior Cup 2nd Round
Ennis 11-38 Highfield
ENNIS RFC gave a very good account of themselves in the Junior Cup this year, despite being ultimately knocked out at an early stage at the weekend.
Having seen off Bruff in the first round, the Clare side were given another difficult task with the visit of Cork side, Highfield.
Highfield, who play in Senior Seconds South league, can boast the use of many fringe first team players who ply their trade in AIL Division 2A, where some of the country’s most talented and ambitious amateur players compete every week.
Ennis keenly contested the match for long periods but were ultimately defeated by a highly-organised, and physically large outfit who benefit from the demands of AIL-intensity training.
Ennis can be proud that they really put it up to Highfield in the first half, defending vigorously while also attacking with some real intent.
The fact that the visitors got three tries in the first half, leaving the score at 19-6 at half time, wasn’t a fair representation of how the first 40 went.
The first try came before the 10-minute mark off the back of an Ennis kick from just outside their own ‘22 which went out on the full, giving Highfield an attacking line-out. Securing the lineout, resulted in the Cork side mauling over for their first try, which was converted.
A lot of Ennis pressure followed directly and after an infringement by the stretched Cork side at the breakdown, Ronan O’Holloran slotted over three points.
Despite a run of possession in attack throughout this period, two more tries were scored against the run of play.
Firstly, Highfield exploited a gap in the Ennis defence which led to an overlap of numbers and Highfield gladly scored in the corner to leave it 12-3.
Just before the half time whistle, with Ennis continuing to apply pressure, the Clare side knocked on giving Highfield a scrum in their own 22. The resulting move saw their outside centre breaking the line and the Cork side ran the length of the pitch to touch down for a third try.
Before the half-time whistle, Ennis’s continued pressure finally payed off after Highfield were adjudged offside and O’Holloran slotted over another penalty.
As the second half wore on, Highfield’s physical size and relentless running began to break Ennis down and they were worth their scores as the game wore on. Ennis began to miss tackles and conceded another three tries.
The last score of the game came to Ennis, to their credit, with good work from Liam Ryan and Bryanie Murphy, who made a break and offloaded to Noel Downes who scored in the corner to put a more reflective look on the scoreline.
Despite the loss, Ennis are performing well this season and will compete in the semi-final of the Martin O’Sullivan Cup against Killorglin. In the league, Ennis sit in fifth with three games to play and with a difficult schedule behind them, they will look to finish in the top three to put them in a strong position for playoffs.
Ennis: S Hayes, Mark Taylor; D Tylan, F Coffey; C Nugent; R O’Holloran, J Martin; M McNamara, D Flynn (c), G McGonagle; E Galvin, J Considine; L Ryan, A Ryan, J Smith;
Subs; N Downes, N O’Loughlin, J Queally, S O’Grady, B Murphy