Clon’s Lalor Cup glory

by Gazette Reporter

CLONDALKIN Rugby Club’s second team started 2016 in brilliant fashion as they claimed the Lalor Cup title with a 21-12 final victory over Portlaoise in Athy.
They did so without many regulars including Tom Mc Grath, Thomas Ankers and Luke Sweetman. Despite this, coaches Alan Hickey and Kevin Cullen were still able to pick a very strong squad.
With all the recent rain, it was a cold, wet and muddy day and Clondalkin started much the brighter as they set about defending their Lalor cup title.
Good carries from Sean Brennan and PJ McAuley, clever angled kicking from John Murphy and powerful defence from Darren Madden, Leigh Berisford and Brennan again, saw Clondalkin deservedly lead 9-0 at half time, following three well struck Steve Cunningham penalties.
Coach Hickey opted for cup final experience in the second half, as he introduced returning former first team captains Ciaran and Kevin Cullen into the action, whilst also switching captain Cunningham to out-half and the impressive Murphy to full back.
These changes along with fresh power in the front row, in the shape of Bobby Smith, allowed Clondalkin take full control of the contest. A snipe by scrum-half Josh Dunne was followed by a great ball carry from French flanker Thibaut Remark and Smith was on hand for the offload and powered over from 15m with three defenders left in his trail. Clondalkin now led 14-0.
Their second try was again finished by Smith in a similar manner, when replacement scrum-half Dara Ward found Kevin Cullen in midfield. Cullen’s delayed pass sent Smith through a gaping hole and with one scared full back to beat, he impressively crashed over beside the posts. Cunningham added the extras for 21-0.
With time running out, Portlaoise kept sending their stronger ball carriers at Clondalkin and eventually got their reward with two late scores.
This left a much fairer reflection for their efforts on the final score board. Clondalkin were delighted to retain their Lalor Cup title.
Hickey said afterwards: “Our work rate was non-stop and our defensive work as good as it has been all season.
“We expect to bring that into our remaining league fixtures and then into our Towns Cup campaign.” In the past two seasons, Clondalkin have lost both a final and semi final in the Towns cup, so are certainly determined to add more silverware to Sunday’s title.
The next fixtures for Clondalkin’s firsts and seconds are at home to Suttonians in a crucial Leinster Division 1A league tie in Gordon Park this Saturday, at 12.30 and 2pm.

Related Articles