BY DENIS HURLEY
CLONAKILTY player-coach Dave Lombard believes that his team needs to win two of their remaining four games to retain their Munster Junior League Division 1 status.
This weekend, Clon – second-from-bottom in the table – have a break as attention turns to the Munster Junior Cup (which they are not involved in) but then they are likely to face four matches in as many weeks, against Bandon, Clonmel, St Mary’s and Richmond.
Clon’s poor luck in the league continued last Sunday as the late concession of a try denied them a losing bonus point against Clanwilliam – they lost 29-17, which was their seventh defeat in nine league games.
Mary’s are bottom of the table but the other three remaining opponents fill the top three spots and Lombard isn’t trying to gloss over the size of the challenge.
‘To be honest, we need to win a minimum of two games to have a chance, I think, and they’re not easy,’ Lombard told The Southern Star.
‘One saving grace is that we have three home games out of it, we’re only away to Clonmel. Bandon and Clonmel will both probably be looking for bonus-point victories, maybe in a way that might make them complacent and help us.
‘If a Munster team get relegated from Division 2C of the All-Ireland League, then three teams would go down. Kanturk are the lowest Munster team at the moment, but they’re ten points clear of the bottom two so the chances of that happening are slim.
‘On the other hand, if we finished second from bottom and Clonmel or Bandon won the round-robin, then we’d stay up. You can’t be relying on that though.’
In 2013 Clonakilty lost their senior status after they were relegated from Ulster Bank League Division 2B. It meant that Clon slipped back into the junior grade for the first time since 2001, and another relegation would be a massive setback for this proud West Cork club.
Clonakilty have found themselves unable to buy a break lately, with Lombard citing last week’s game as the latest example.
‘We were camped on Clanwilliam’s try-line and the scrum-half was tackled as he was trying to get his pass off, they broke and went 90m and got the try,’ he says.
‘The decision was dubious, we thought it was a penalty, but the referee made the call.
‘Before Christmas last season, we were third in the table, we were getting the rub of the green, but this year we’ve got nothing, no bounce of the ball.’