KIERAN Shannon will never forget the day he lined out for the Munster junior interpro team in his own backyard.
The 30-year-old has soldiered for Skibbereen RFC for many years as a player. He’s also active on the coaching side too and involved with the club’s newly-crowned All-Ireland and Munster U18 champions.
Last Saturday week, Shannon, along with club-mate Jack Breen – older brother to Irish senior international Enya Breen – both played for the Munster junior team in their interpro game against Leinster that was hosted by Skibbereen RFC. It was an historic occasion for the club and they pulled out all the stops to create an event that will live long in the memory.
‘In fairness to the club they did themselves proud. I was talking to a few of the Munster lads who have been involved in the interpros in the past and they have never had a show like the one Skibb put on,’ Shannon told The Southern Star.
‘Usually at those games you might get 100 or 200 supporters but there was up to 1,000 at Skibb. When the Munster team ran on, to have all the younger players from the club forming a guard of honour with the flags, the Munster junior lads had never seen anything like that before. The club was brilliant.’
It was a proud moment too for Shannon who was introduced in the second half, as was Jack Breen. There was a strong West Cork presence on the team. Bandon RFC’s Kerry Desmond, Ben Ridgeway, Scott Kingston and Tom Ferguson all started, as did Clonakilty RFC’s Olan Deane. Kinsale’s Rob Armstrong and Crosshaven’s Jamie Kind also started.
Even though they played into the strong wind in the opening half Munster led 5-0 at the break thanks to a try from Kind. Ridgeway’s penalty stretched the lead to 8-0 early in the second half before Leinster took control and ran out 19-13 winners, despite a late Craig O’Connell try for Munster that secured a losing bonus point.
‘I don’t know what happened in the second half. I think it’s a game we could have won and we didn’t play as well as we could have,’ Shannon says.
Munster are back in action this Saturday with an away trip to Ulster – they beat Connacht 36-20 last weekend – and their final game is the following weekend away to Connacht.
‘It was awesome to run onto the park in Skibbereen last Saturday and we got a massive roar. It’s always an honour to wear the red jersey but it wouldn’t have meant as much to me as it did on Saturday because I was playing at home in Skibb,’ Shannon says.
‘It was brilliant. I was honoured to be involved. And the club did such a good job too and that reflects well on everyone in the club who worked really hard these last few weeks to make sure everything was right.’