Junior Cup Quarters| Castlebar V Corrib
- Jan 23,2020
CASTLEBAR SURVIVE LATE CORRIB ONSLAUGHT TO EARN THEIR PLACE IN THE JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
On Sunday afternoon last, Corrib and their masses of travelling supporters descended on Cloondeash to take on Castlebar in cold and frosty conditions. Corrib arrived with their confidence at a high, coming off a 61 to 7 point win over last weeks opponents, Old Boys Club (OLBC) to earn a shot at reaching the Semi Final. However it was Castlebar who found themselves on the score board after 2 minutes with an early attack lead by Simon Staunton who passed to Davey Staunton who in turn offloaded to Sean Tonra before the referee awarded a penalty that was duly converted by Damien Togher to give the home side a 3 point lead after 2 minutes of play. After a further 5 minutes of play Corrib were dealt a further blow with their centre, Declan Little being sin-binned for a shoulder charge tackle. Despite being down to 14 men, Corrib put a lot of pressure on the Castlebar team with sustained attack after attack where their props carried the ball at speed and battered into the Castlebar defensive line. On one occasion they looked to be through for a certain try after intercepting the ball but the home side was rescued by an excellent try-saving tackle by full back Gareth Dunne. However, despite Corrib controlling much of the possession, Castlebar were able to extend their lead to 6 -nil with a long range penalty kicked this time by Gareth Dunne who had the range and accuracy to find the posts.
Coming up to the half hour mark, the referee found himself busy distributing yellow cards - the first being given to Simon Staunton for illegally blocking a Corrib attacking player from getting to the ball, as it was kicked downfield and the second being given to the Corrib full back, Niall Egan for a high tackle.
Much of the last 10 minutes of the half saw Castlebar trying to get out of their own 22 and under pressure from sustained counter attacks from Corrib. However just before half time Castlebar were able to extend their lead to 11 - nil with Captain Mark Staunton launching a line break and offloading the ball over many heads to his brother, Luke who in turn got the ball out to Gareth Dunne, who put in a Man of The Match performance to score the first try of the game.
The second half began with Corrib intent on getting a foothold back in the game and within a few minutes they began to play a fast paced passing game that raised the spirits of their vocal supporters who spurred their team on through every phase of play. Their half time team talk seemed to have worked as Corrib emerged as a more determined and stronger team in the second half. They began to control much of the possession and passed the ball with purpose and were rewarded early in the second half when substitute Joe Mullan got over the line to bring the score back to 11-7 with the conversion being added by Niall Egan. Corrib began to exert more and more pressure on the Castlebar defensive line and it looked like the game could slip away from Castlebar who were missing a number of their key players through injury. Playing on the wing, David O Donnell was making his senior debut for Castlebar while James Hughes was also making his debut for the senior squad.
Despite an excellent effort from the Headford men, their hopes of victory were dealt a serious blow with their try being cancelled out within a few minutes by a ball, intercepted by Mark Staunton who ran in to touch down the ball underneath the posts giving Damien Togher the easiest of conversions bringing the score back to 18-7. Marty Moran replaced Richard Newcombe for Castlebar as Corrib went on the attack again. They recycled the ball through many phases and despite some excellent defensive play from Castlebar, they were able to get their second try but missed a difficult conversion leaving the score at 18-12. Much of the remaining 20 minutes were dominated by Corrib attacking and Castlebar going into survival mode where they dug deep to defend their line. While Castlebar demonstrated their defensive abilities, Corrib will regret not having played the first half with the same intensity as they showed in the second half.
Castlebar move on with their next Junior Cup fixture, an away semi final fixture against Monivea who defeated Corinthians on a score line of 24-20. The other Junior Cup Semi Final will see Ballinrobe who defeated Buccaneers 11- 8 take to the road to face Connemara who eliminated Creggs on a score line of 20 to 14.
Both semi-finals will be played the weekend of March 1st with Castlebar hopeful of making the Junior Cup final for the first time since 1996, a competition that they have never won. Next week Castlebar turn their attention to the J1A league with an away fixture versus Buccaneers.