ALAN DODD REPORTS
SKIBBEREEN will look to return to winning ways in their Munster Junior League Division 1 campaign when they host Newcastlewest RFC at home this Sunday next, at 2.30pm.
Last weekend Skibb slipped to a 22-12 loss away to recently promoted Cobh Pirates.
Skibbereen fielded a strong side for their first away game of the current season and included new South African signing Raymond Jardine who impressed when he took to the field in the latter part of the opening half – his entry sadly at the expense of youthful Skibbereen prospect Jack Breen who was having a fine game up to then but who had to retire with an injury.
Cobh Pirates started well and were first over the try-line after 12 minutes with an Alan Langford try and conversion and they would add another try to their tally after 30 minutes to reach the half-stage on 12 points.
Skibbereen, from a sluggish start, missed some early opportunities inside the Cobh five-metre patch in the early stages but could not convert their advantage into points.
Cobh defended fiercely throughout and gave little away in the centre channel where Skibbereen seemed to be concentrating their big guns and progress was both limited and energy sapping.
It wasn’t until the final ten minute period of the half that a spectacular run from full back Tom Bushe from inside his own twenty-two saw him bob and weave his way down the field splitting the defence wide open. His final pass to Declan Coppinger was pin perfect and with nothing but clear-water ahead the second-row had no difficulty to score easily under the posts. The conversion by outhalf Denis McCarthy was a foregone conclusion and Skibbereen were back in the game and within striking distance at 12 - 7 at the end of the first half.
Start of the second half Skibbereen were showing signs of being better organised and began to gain territorially with co-ordinated attacks keeping the home side on the back-foot. Those opening minutes presented plenty opportunities when play went inside the Cobh 22 and after repeated attempts to break through it was again that youthful and talented full back Tom Bushe with a perfectly timed run through the gap to score Skibbereen’s second try. No conversion this time but the sides were now level and Skibbereen were well in control.
There would be repeated forages inside the Cobh 22 throughout most of the second-half many attempts coming within inches of scoring with great work from team captain Kieran Shannon and also Richie Byrne to name a few, but a late revival from Cobh dashed Skibbereen hopes.
Their two late tries by Ian O’Donovan and Shane Cullimore came in quick succession to round off a good phase of play from the home side, and at a time when a draw seemed the more likely outcome.
Then one final throw of the dice in the final minute had Skibbereen winger Rory Hone racing down the touchline with a try at his mercy only to reined in by a Cobh linesman who claimed he had a foot in touch. The try would have merited at least a losing bonus point.
So, not a great day at the office for the Skibbereen visitors, but they will readily admit to having had plenty chances and not availing of them – in the end coming away with nothing to show for their efforts – and they did deserve something.
Skibbereen: Tadgh Cullinane, Dave Jennings, Peter Stoutt, Declan Coppinger, Mike Calnan, Jack Breen, Ritchie Byrne, Kieran Shannon (captain), Jack O’Driscoll, Denis McCarthy, Donal Collins, Eric Donnelly, Ger Hurley, Darren Lynch, Tom Bushe.
Reserves: Cathal McCarthy, Sacha Hodnett, Rory Hohne, Raymond Jardine.