Thomond traveled down from Limerick City on Saturday the 28th to play against the hosts. The last time these sides faced off in Liam Fitzgerald Park Thomond bested us by 36 points to 10. While that game was not so close on the score board, it was still an exhilarating game of rugby. This latest fixture proved just as exciting, with seven tries in total, and two come backs from behind.
The match opened with the home side making strong inroads to the opposition 22, threatening the line more than once only to be denied at the last. The strong defensive effort from the visitors paid off when a turnover between their own 22 and 10 meter line, ended up scoring in the corner. The next score of the game came from a Thomond High tackle against Daniel Murray, kicked by Stuart Lee. With the kick off secured the Home side continued to move down pitch, keeping Thomond barricaded in their own 22. A knock on led to a kick down the pitch, which Midleton turned over on their own 10 meter line following a good kick chase.
Some fine displays of attacking rugby from both sides saw an exciting ebb and flow to the game which left fans on their feet. The visitors ended up on top again with their star winger, Darragh O’Neill scored a break away try after gathering a wayward offload.
After the visitors gathered the restart they made some yard into Midleton’s half of the pitch. Some heavy tackling lead to a turnover on the home sides 10 meter line. This was moved to the wing using good hands and a decent offload from Aaron Hogan. Young Charlie Murphy found himself with the ball in his hands on the half way line, he made a break down the wing, evading one tackle and handing off one other would be defender before pulling his hamstring in the opposition 22. The attempted offload didn’t go to hand, giving Thomond the chance to clear their lines once again. A Midleton turnover in the middle of the pitch gave Lee the chance to add 3 more points to make the scores 6-12 in favor of the travelers.
It was the that the game should have changed in favor of the home side. Loose head prop for Thomond, Eoin O’Neill received a straight red card, sentencing the travelers to finish the game with only 14 men. This should have given Midleton the boost they needed, however, two penalties in the home 22 gifted Thomond another 6 points.
With Thomond knowing their backs were against the wall they began playing the territory game, keeping the ball in the Midleton half as much as they could. With 4 minutes left before the half Midleton received a yellow card to put the teams even on 14 men apiece for ten minutes, until Thomond number 12 suffered the same fate. Respective Captains were told to report too their teams to spread the word about poor discipline.
After an action packed beginning to the second half of the match, Thomond found themselves with a penalty just outside Midletons 22. A quick tap and two long passes saw them dot down in the corner for another try. A commanding lead and a grim outlook for the Home Side.
The rally began with the forwards and backs combining to make yards into Thomond’s half, a quick passed few phases ended with Midleton going over in the corner. This was added to moments later after the Midleton back line showed their pace and skill, pushing back Thomond’s defensive line and using powerful offloads to go over the line yet again.
Scintillating attacking rugby from the home side ensued, however, the need to bridge the gap may have proved too much and lack of patience may have gotten the better of Rob Smyth’s men. Being held up over the line twice did not make life easier for the home side, with the scores at 16-21 and less than ten to go. The work paid off, the scrum following being held up on the second occasion led to space being available out wide, with Stuart Lee making use of the extra men, the scores became 23-21 in favor of the home side. Asking the referee, Glenn Sheridan, on the way back to take the kickoff the home side were told there was 5 minutes left to play. With only a 2 point gap 5 minutes can seem like an eternity to have to wait for the final whistle, and it turned out so. Thomond winger, O’Neill, found himself again with the ball in hands and made the 20 meter burst to the line to finish under the posts. Final score 21-28 to Thomond.