Greystones claim first victory in Clonakilty
Clonakilty 13, Greystones 14: In previous visits to The Vale, Greystones best result was a draw in 2006, but on this occasion they finally nailed the hoodoo with a narrow one point victory over the West Cork side.
The visitors had a number of injury worries going into the game with both John Rowe and fellow prop Stephen Snell sideined, while in the back division they were also without centre Aaron Higgs and scrumhalf Dave Popplewell but their replacements Kevin Moes, Neil Hopkins, Conor Ceary and Declan Griffen were not found wanting.
After the initial opening bouts the home team then started to get some good possession mainly from their industrious No 6 Ger Hegarty and hooker Alfie Harte and after a good run through the middle by Hegarty, Greystones were penalised for playing the ball on the ground just outside their own twentytwo.
The resultant kick by centre and captain David Lombard gave them an early lead. Five minutes later and with Greystones in a good scrum pos- session on the Clonakilty twenty-two, No 8 Luke Mantle picked from the base but the Clonakilty backrow managed to snuff out his run.
With twenty five minutes on the clock, Greystones once again found themselves defending inside their own twenty-two and once again they were penalised for playing the ball on the ground with Lombard stepping up to get an easy three points to put them into a six points lead.
A floated pass from the right hand side by outhalf Gary Cribb to centre Paul Dillon saw his brother Derek skip through some poor defence to score under the posts with Lombard having the easiest of kicks to put his team into a 13-0 lead.
Clonakilty scrum-half Dave Cookson took a quick tap following a penalty and they moved the ball downfield, but a good tackle from Greystones left wing Mark Geraghty dislodged the ball with a scrum awarded to Greystones just outside their own twenty-two.
A solid shove from the Stones pack saw Mantle take the ball and run off up the shortside, making forty metres before finding right wing Ronan Carroll with a delightful pass, Caroll made a further fifteen metres and with the Clonakilty cover coming across, he chipped over his opposite numbers head and with a kindly bounce picked up and went over in the corner for his try.
Although from a difficult angle, outhalf James Power slotted over the convert to narrow the gap to six points.
However the turning point of the game was when Greystones captain Neil Megannety took the a high ball, however he was tackled dangerously in the air by Hegarty with the referee Paul Haycock yellow carding him.
Now playing with fourteen, the Greystones pack, which had been doing quite well in the tight, were now even better. Within five minutes they had their second try of the day, when from a ruck thirty metres out and seemingly going nowhere, Greystones fullback Dave McKechnie emerged from the middle to the astonishment of both Clonakilty and Greystones. With virtually no opposition in front of him he charged for the line and despite his opposite number almost getting to him he touched down in the corner. Again from a narrow angle Power added the vital two points to put his team into a single point lead at the break.
Lombard had three further opportunities to close out the game with three kickable penalties which he missed and with five minutes to go Power could have eased he tension of the Greystones supporters when his attempted drop goal went narrowly wide of the mark.
With time almost up Stones, defending in their own half, had a scrum and although it turned into a ruck their pack went through six or seven pick and drives to wind down the clock which the referee thankfully blew to end an enthralling encounter.
Next week Greystone play their third game in the AIL with the visit to Dr. Hickey Park of Trinity.