Limerick’s leading junior club continue to go from strength to strength and we visited them on Sunday one week on from them securing another Junior League crown as they took on and beat the up and coming Newcastle West in Round 5 of the Munster Junior Cup.
Canal Bank in the heart of east of Limerick city is undergoing a face lift at the moment. The plans are in place, the funding has been secured and work is about to begin on a new clubhouse and a sand based training area at the far end of the ground.
For now they are making do and being creative, putting on tea and soup at half time on the wettest of afternoons for this Junior Cup tie in a make shift clubhouse for now. They make sure the match day experience is good and they are determined to move forward.
Like many clubs in the country, during the boom they had big offers for their land and even had a plan in place where the buyer had undertaken to develop a new ground further up the Canal 0 closer to the University – which would have provided multiple pitches, training areas etc.
That fell through for a number of reasons and they are where they are. Staying in this part of the city is hugely important for them, it’s no different for Presentation, St Mary’s or any of the six Senior clubs in the city. Each have their own patch and they co-exist very well considering.
Richmond are back winning titles again this season, putting back to back league crowns together. Just Cashel have interrupted their dominance in the past four years. The Challenge Cup got away from them with a resurgent Kanturk edging them in the final this season but the Transfield Cup is still on the agenda and they are now in the Quarter finals of the Junior Cup.
The 20-12 win of Newcastle West here was no fluke and no mean feat. The visitors had dumped UCC out of the competition and under the guidance of Vinny O’Doherty have established themselves as a Division 1 side after their first season in the top flight this year.
AUDIO: Richmond Coach George Murray
Add to that the fact that Newcastle West scored early in this contest to lead 7-0 with the wind at their backs and the win has some context on it.
The rain never stopped but Richmond were sharper than even some of their league wins this season. The Junior Cup is clearly high on the agenda. They had three major sieges on the visitors line during the first 40 and only one led to a try, that might have been a concern but they led 10-7 against the wind.
Caption: Action from Sunday’s game with Newcastle West.
Their first score cam midway through the half with the well travelled Mikey Kelleher scoring after a great try after a break from scrum half Tomas O’Brien and great link play from winger James Kelly.
Kelleher has played plenty of Ulster Bank League rugby and was in the Munster Development panel. He could continue to play at a higher level but loves it with his local club and it suits just fine work wise.
After half time, Barry McNamara crashed over for a try underneath the posts and the lead was 17-7 but the visitors hit back with their second try after tenacious forward work and we had a grandstand finish.
AUDIO: Richmond Club President Ger Duffy
However, this is where Richmond set themselves apart as a team. When games are in the melting pot they ease into another gear in the tight play and without even noticing, teams find themselves on the back foot and out of contention again within a flash.
Hard work from the ever reliable Gearoid Phelan and his back row colleagues of John Deeegan and David Sheehan certainly helped in the lead up to Brian Mullins second penalty and fourth successful kick, that stretched the lead to eight and they didn’t look back
As you’ll hear in the attached interview, George Murray was a happy coach afterwards. His team will face either Clonmel or Ennis in the last eight and look on course for a semi final all Limerick showdown with the highly fancied Garryowen. That would be some game if it came about.
On top of all that, they also have another tilt at the All Ireland Round Robin Qualifiers ahead of them starting with a home tie against Connacht champions Monivea and trips to Tullamore and Portadown. Make no mistake, they’ll be targeting three wins and giving it their all.
Note: A big thanks to Natailie and the rest of the commitee for the warm welcome on Sunday. We’ll be back soon.