Kinsale hosted Skibbereen in the 6th round of the Munster Club u18.5s Conference 4 League. Skibbereen arrived to Kinsale top of the table after 5 wins from 5, while Kinsale were joint second with Ballincollig, both having won 4 and losing 1. With everybody’s eyes on the Munster Pan A competition Skibbereen knew a win would see them qualify while a Kinsale victory would put them joint top with Skibbereen and possibly Ballincollig with 1 game left.
After heavy rain overnight and during the morning, the pitch surface was soft on top which made it slippery for both sides. Skibbereen kicked off the game a couple minutes after the scheduled 12pm kick off and you could see within minutes and both sides wanted to win this game. Skibbereen kept the pressure on the Kinsale backline and Jordan Wright on 3 occasions in the first 10-15 minutes ran the ball out of defense as Skibbereen played an effective kicking game with the wind behind them. Skibbereen were dominating territory but the Kinsale backs were strong and repeatedly kept regaining possession and put Skibbereen on the back foot. Kinsale grew into the game and begin to push Skibbereen back. 28 minutes into the game and Skibbereen were reduced to 14 as their scrum half saw yellow for a poor tackle. This gave Kinsale a bit more confidence as the put pressure on the Skibbereen backline. However, it was Skibbereen who scored first as they blocked down a box kick following a ruck inside the Kinsale 22 and ran through to go 5-0 up inside the last minute for the first half. Skibbereen failed with the conversion hitting the upright to let it at 5-0 at half time.
Both teams re-grouped at half time with different management techniques used to prepare their sides for the second half. Kinsale kicked off and put Skibbereen on the back foot. Within 3 minutes Kinsale had their first points on the board as Calum Fennel converted a penalty. Kinsale were on the front foot and from the restart they immediately put Skibbereen under pressure again as they began to use the wind advantage that Skibbereen had in the first half. 2 minutes later and Kinsale formed a strong maul and drove forward from a good distance out to cross the line and go 8-5 up with Cormac Hartnett touching down. A great team try that one. The chance to increase their lead was missed by Calum Fennel as his conversion went wide. Skibbereen were struggling at this stage as Kinsale continued to push forward. Kinsale were rewarded another kickable penalty 9 minutes into the second half and Calum Fennel did not disappoint. 11-5 to the home side. Skibbereen players continued to receive instructions from the side lines and their fightback began. The game tightened up after that with some strong tackling and rucking from both sides. Skibbereen were beginning to get a hold of the game again and their forwards put the Kinsale defense under pressure. Skibbereen got their second try of the game with 10 minutes remaining after a number of phases of play. Their successful conversion gave them the smallest of margins in the score line at 11-12. It was Kinsales turn to fight back and Skibbereen nearly broke through as Kinsale were pushing forward. Kinsale were awarded a penalty inside the Skibbereen half in injury time and without the option of kicking to the corner it was decided to kick for goal. Calum Fennel was the player to step up but his attempt was not successful. Game over 11-12.
Denis "Puppet" Collins, post-match comment was "A very good game of rugby, intensity and commitment by both sides. We executed the game plan well into the wind in the first half and were unlucky to be behind. We had a great start to the second half, excellent territory gained through kick chase game. We challenged Skibbereen’s set pieces and got our noses in front. To be fair to Skibb, they came back at us. Great effort by our lads but at this level it's fine margins. We will go again next week."
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