Bandon R.F.C. 10
Kilfeacle and District R.F.C. 12
Why do supporters of Munster Junior Rugby stand in rain sodden fields, leaning sideways into gale force winds, with umbrellas being whipped inside out, wearing numerous layers of clothes over our thermals and under a mix mash of gloves, scarves, hats, caps, hoods, mittens, wellingtons and boots? On days that Brass Monkeys wouldn’t even venture out of bed! In conditions that Artic explorers wouldn’t survive more than mere minutes! Is it because we are assured that every contest we see is going to be a classic? That every gladiator who enters the arena is going to be of the highest standard, a beacon of fitness and conditioning, without fear or doubt in their heart’s and with a mental focus that would overwhelm any extremist. Why do we give up our time, time that could be spent in more comfortable pursuits, more profitable endeavours! Time that could be spent with loved ones or enhancing our parenting skills to ensure that our offspring achieve all those unrealistic goals we set them, goals we never achieved ourselves! Why are we elated by victory, shattered by defeat, infuriated by errors, disgusted by ineptitude, bemused by decisions, disappointed by reality, satisfied by good fortune and philosophical about bad luck?
Is it because we no longer can or never were able to play? Is it because it makes us feel like we belong? Is it because we can live vicariously through their efforts? Are we there for the team or for one particular individual? Is this a stepping stone for an up and coming or is it one final hurrah for a wily old veteran? What drives us on to stand there and scream until our voices are gone and our throats are sore? Always knowing better than the opposition, the coaches, the referees, the linesmen and even the players. Seldom happy with the team selection and never happy with the tactics. What drives us on when we are seldom if ever happy? Well for Kilfeacle supporters it is days like Sunday 26th of February 2017, in a venue such as Charleville against opposition of the calibre of Bandon! In the final of the Munster Junior clubs Challenge cup Final!
Kilfeacle travelled to Charleville on Sunday 26th of February to face the formidable strength of Bandon. By the time the 2:00 kick off came around, the large throng of travelling support from Kilfeacle coupled with the vocal Bandon support had worked up a fever pitch of an atmosphere. Kilfeacle had a game plan and that was to start at high tempo, to score early and subdue the opposing support. Things sometimes go to plan! The game was played with great spirit and commitment with a lot of free flowing moves and running of the ball and Kilfeacle started well and were matching their opponents. After 15 minutes Kilfeacle and District, through the boot of Jamie Heuston, had fired penalty and dropgoal attempts between and wide of the posts, building up a lead of 6 points to 0. For the next 10 minutes the game settled into a pattern, a pattern of Kilfeacle, who had the wind and the driving rain aiding them slightly, kicking to gain territory while their opponents Bandon had to run and pass everytime they has possession because of the elements they were facing into. Bandon were dominating the scrums and were using this platform to win penalties and gain ground. Kilfeacle were holding off their opponents but the penalty count was starting to rise and it seemed only a matter of time before one of these penalties would be converted to points on the board. On 25 minutes Bandon’s territorial dominance was awarded when after numerous phases of play they pushed over to score in the corner scored by Colin Jackson. Bandon soon realised that kicking in these conditions was treacherous to say the least and their conversion attempt was unsuccessful. Kilfeacle did not seem too phased by this score and put together their best period of play which five minutes later saw them only five yards from their opponents try line with a lineout. Kilfeacle lost the ball in contact from the throw in and the reliving kick went bouncing into Kilfeacle’s half. The chase was on. Kilfeacle’s full back collected the ball and safely found touch. Bandon did not ease off on the pressure and after wave after wave of attacks Kilfeacle’s defence had still stood firm. Kilfeacle’s resilience paid off and with time up at the end of the first half they were duly awarded another penalty which was to fall agonisingly short of its mark. The scoreboard read 6 – 5 to Kilfeacle as the half time whistle sounded.
Trailing by only a solitary point at half time, Bandon were optimistic about achieving their goal and coming away with a win. Kilfeacle’s main concern at halftime was planning to overcome Bandon’s dominance in the scrimmaging department, thankfully and impressively this they managed to do. The second half started with Kilfeacle, buoyed by their late first half performance and a huge travelling support, on the ascendancy. Similar to the first half they were able to convert their territorial advantage to points on the scoreboard with another penalty and another dropgoal from Jamie Heuston. Although Jamie was to score all of Kilfeacle’s points on the day he was first to recognise that the scores were not only a team effort but were a squad effort . A squad which consisted of Tom Doyle, Pat Humphreys, Simon Barry, Ricky Witney, James Ryan Salmon, Kevin Kinnane, Jack McLoughlin, Cormac O’Donoghue, Stephen Quirke, Ciarán Lowry, Brian McLoughlin, Diarmuid O’Donnell (capt.), Shane Luby, Diarmuid McCarthy, Darren Lowry, Joshua Featherstone, Conor Quinlan, Cormac Ryan Minor, Gavin Heuston, Keith Bourke, Pat Ryan and Jamie Heuston. After 60 minutes Bandon started to stamp their mark on the game and spent the next ten minutes in the opponent’s half but to no avail as they met with a very stout and courageous Kilfeacle defence. With the score board now reading 12-5 Kilfeacle mounted attack after attack but their efforts never paid off. With the game at almost an end of normal time Bandon endeavours finally bore fruit when a huge team effort saw the ball touched down in the corner by Mike Murphy. The scoreboard now read 12 points to 10 which meant that the long range conversion attempt was crucial to draw level. It was missed. This was a devastating blow to the Bandon side, one they never managed to recover from. Kilfeacle once again attacked and were on top and could smell blood. Bandon were doing everything to stop Kilfeacle from getting the insurance score and finally they went too far and Kilfeacle were awarded a penalty a long distance out. Kilfeacle knew that the next score would seal the game for who ever scored it and elected to kick for the points. The attempt fell short but in Bandon’s endeavours to clear their line in the dying moments Kilfeacle were awarded another penalty. To the supporters disbelief the ball was kicked to touch but disbelief turned to relief followed by ecstasy when the final whistle sounded to leave the final score at 12 points to 10 in favour of Kilfeacle and a historic victory was in the bag.
Kilfeacle looked a formidable team when they were playing as a unit and their ability to change to suit the terrible weather conditions and rectify their scrummaging problems at halftime seemed to be the difference between the two sides on the day. Kilfeacle’s love affair with this particular competition goes on and in Charleville on Sunday the 26th of February 2017 another chapter was written. Every player wore the blue of Kilfeacle and District RFC with pride and did the club proud. The coaches have asked that no one person be singled out as this was a team effort. Team captain Diarmuid O’Donnell asked that the coaching and backroom staff of John Staunton, Conor Gallagher, Denis Keneally, Sean Heuston, Paul Donovan and John Flaherty get the mention they more than deserve. Everyone at the club was delighted with the result and the achievement. We are a small club with a big heart, a club that dares to dream. This historic win means that Kilfeacle have moved top of the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup honours list, with four success’s. The team as ever are proud and humbled by the amount of support they receive and hope that their supporters will continue to come along and support the “Boys in Blue”. The season is not over yet!!