THRILLER AT CRFC
Coolmine19-16 Cill Dara
CoolmineU17s Come Back From The Abyss to secure Final Place.
Rarely has there been a thriller like it at Ashbrook. Coolmine U17s left the pitch to standing ovations and acclaim after clawing themselves back from a 0-16 deficit with 15 minutes remaining to secure a famous victory 'at the death' over a very well organised, highly motivated and effective Cill Dara team. The last gasp victory secures a place in the Premier League Final.
The first half was a very evenly matched affair which saw both sides attempting to play open expansive rugby in the Ashbrook sunshine. Both defenses proved solid however. Cill Dara made more use of the boot to gain territory and put the Coolmine full back under pressure with some probing chase kicks. Meanwhile, Coolmine's back line, through impressive variations constantly threatened the Cill Dara defense. The differences between the two sides was the Cill Dara kicker. With a golden boot that would impressed the discerning locals, he slotted home three penalties from a distance that would not normally be expected at this age group.
Coolmine helped the kicker on several occasions when poor after-the-whistle ill discipline resulted in the ball being moved the customary ten metres towards the tryline and into kicking range. A tough but fair lesson on the importance of good discipline for every player participating or watching! The first half ended 0-9 in favour of Cill Dara with little between the teams.
The second half started as the first half ended. Several minutes into the second half, once again a long Cill Dara boot put the Coolmine full-back under pressure; an impressive chase from the Cill Dara speedsters resulted in a blocked down kick and an easy try and conversion. There was a question of knock on as Cill Dara went over but the score stood.
0-16 to Cill Dara and the momentum was definitely with them. At this point, all but the most blindly optimistic Coolmine dreamers on the sidelines were resigned to defeat and a disappointing end to a courageous league campaign.
However,as the all-time great American Football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
The moment of truth had arrived for these young Coolmine men and it was time to decide if they were going to “lie down” or if they were going to “get up”.
Fired by indignation (at the situation they had found themselves in, of their own making), pride and belief, the team went up a gear. Time and again they hammered the Cill Dara defence and despite the temptation to change tactics, Coolmine stuck with their plan to play the ball out through the back line. At one point, whatever hopes the Coolmine supporters had, took another blow when a Rob O'Farrell try was disallowed due to a knock-on that had occurred moments earlier. Three minutes later, however, a scrum on the Cill Dara '22 produced a back line move of remarkable elegance, allowing Coolmine to pass untouched under the post to score. 7-16 with 12 minutes to play. Was this to be the loser's consolation score? They had other plans.
For the next six or so minutes, waves of attack by Coolmine were stoutly defended by a brave but perhaps tiring Cill Dara. Eventually,through a combination of quick hands and determination, full-back Matt Grogan achieved sweet recompense after his earlier blocked kick, with a strong finish from 15 yards out to score on the wing. A close but missed conversion attempt. 12-16.
Cill Dara, perhaps waking up to the realisation that Coolmine were not quitting, gained a second-wind and went on the offensive. At this point, with less than two minutes to play, with Cill Dara enjoying an attacking scrum on the Coolmine '22; a moment of individual brillance:
Cill Dara's backline attempted to wrong foot the Coolmine defence, however, flanker David Slupko, was alert to the ploy and performed a gorgeous interception at full pace. After a heartstopping and hair raising chase, he grounded the ball under the posts to the whoops and barely believing cheers of the Coolmine supporters. Last season, David suffered a very severe leg injury that sidelined him for almost a full season. The sight of him at full flight for 80 yards is, in itself, a story of determination and of 'courage overcoming adversity' worth recounting.
After the conversion Coolmine led for the first time in the game 19-16.
An understandably shell-shocked Cill Dara did not have time to comeback. The final whistle blew to the joy of Coolmine and the disappointment of a brave Cill Dara team. There will still be a chance for Cill Dara players to shine at the Schools and Youths Cup Final against Seapoint. Best of luck to the Cill Dara lads in that game.
The Coolmine Coaching team and Supporters on the sidelines could not quite believe what they had witnessed; perhaps one of the greatest ever comebacks in the history of Junior Rugby at Coolmine.