Connemara Claim Connacht Double With Victory Over Creggs

Three try Connemara added the Connacht Junior Cup to their Connacht J1A league success with a 25-6 victory over Creggs at the Sportsground yesterday.

Tries from Michael O’Toole, Henry O’Toole and David McDonagh ensured Connemara coach Henry O’Toole would add a Connacht Junior Cup coaches medal to the player’s medals he won in 1995, 2000 and 2001.

Played between the first and second placed teams in the Connacht J1A league, Connemara’s victory was their fourth Junior Cup Success and – after an eleven year stint in Senior Rugby at the start of the century – their first in nineteen years.

Creggs took an early 3-0 lead as Shane Dowd slotted a penalty after overzealous Connemara defending saw the Blacks penalized for offside. The Clifden based side would soon muscle their way into the ascendancy, however, and tries from the O’Toole brothers, Michael and Henry, and a penalty from Shane Sweeney saw their dominance reflected on the score board.

Shane Dowd bisected the posts with another penalty to take the score to Connemara 15-6 Creggs at half time.

Buoyed by their impressive first half showing and encouraged by the large and loud Connemara crowd in attendance in the Sportsground, the Blacks would score all the points in the second half.

David McDonagh, after impressive footwork and handling from fly half Shane Sweeney, ran the perfect angle against the defensive grain to touch down to make it 22-6 to Connemara. Henry O’Toole – son of his namesake coach, later added a penalty to rubber-stamp the victory; 25-6.

To Creggs’ immense credit, they were game until the very end and even when the result was a foregone conclusion, the Roscommon side gave their all. Connemara, as best exemplified by their pack – with the Staunton brothers, Niall & Ian, and Emmett Ferron- built their victory upon massive physicality.

The aforementioned Ian Staunton played a prominent role in the games opening try. Only 19, it can be said with near certainty that the Sportsgeound – opened in 1927 – has never seen a tight-head prop move so agilely. Running a line off Michael O’Toole’s pass, Staunton sold two dummies and made 30 metres up the centre of the pitch.

From the subsequent ruck, scrum half Michael O’Toole identified space in Creggs’ defensive alignment and ran in unopposed under the posts for their games first try. Shane Sweeney added the conversion which was a formality for 7-3.

Connemara’s next try was another well worked combination of forwards and backs. With an advantage in hand from Creggs dragging down their powerful rolling maul, Connemara worked the ball wide. David McDonagh’s incisive pass left a two versus one in the left corner and, after drawing his man, Shane Sweeney released Henry O’Toole to saunter over in the corner. The conversion narrowly drifted wide to make it 12-3.

Creggs would add the next score, the excellent Shane Dowd adding another penalty from long distance. Shane Sweeney would follow suit to make it 15-6 soon after.

The game’s last try was Connemara at their very best and was a move deserving to bookend any final. Shane Sweeney took the ball to the line and feigned and to pass right, only to subtly pass back inside to the onrushing David McDonagh on his left hand side. The Roundstone man hit his line flush and with speed and threw Creggs’ last ditch defence with a step off his left foot to dive in over the line. Sweeney continued his good work with a conversion, to stretch the score out to 22-6.

WATCH 🎥 | The brilliantly worked Connemara try that sealed the Connacht Junior Cup! 🏆 #GrassrootsToGreenShirts— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) March 24, 2019

Adding an exclamation mark to their victory, Henry O’Toole added a further penalty to Connemara’s score as Creggs’ defence were off their feet at the breakdown to see the scoreline Connemara 25-6 Creggs. It was fitting that an O’Toole would end the day’s scoring. With coach Henry and his three sons, captain and winger Peter, scrum half Michael and full back Henry, heavily involved it was a great day not only for the family, but for the club and the community it represents.

Connemara: 9-15: Michael O’Toole, Shane Sweeney, Peter O’Toole, David McDonagh, Eoin Bourke, Marty Conneely, Henry O’Toole.

Connemara: 1-8: Emmett Ferron, Barry Gibbons, Ian Staunton, Eugene Conroy, Niall Staunton, Conor O’Malley, Paul Lee, T.J. Berry.

Replacements: Dylan Slator, Kevin Keogh, Thomas Sicre, David O’Reilly, Mark Kilkenny, Kevin Barry

Creggs: 9-15: Andrew Callaghan, Shane Dowd, Kevin Gavin, Tom Callaghan, Eoghan Coyle, Chris Duignan, Ronan Dowd.

Creggs: 1-8: Tom Fleming, Maurice Buckley, Aidan Leech, Kevin Brandon, Brian Donoghue, Ronan Cahill, James Brandon, Brian Diffley.

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