Inishowen RFC Notes: I XV march into the Butler Shield Semi Final

4 minutes, 32 seconds Read

Saturday’s Butler shield match between Inishowen and Armoy was the third meeting between the two clubs this season. Inishowen were edging the battles with a 10-0 home win and a 14-14 draw away in the league, Armoy were undefeated at home in 3 years and after an impressive win away to Uuc the previous week.
It was felt that Inishowen needed to win the scrum battle and match their hosts up front, club president John Merritt kindly travelled to Donegal town for a mini blitz and this left prop Brian Harkin free to start only his second game since a injuring his hamstring against the same opponents in December. John Kelly suffered a knock in training on the Thursday and was looking doubtful but gave the team a boost by making himself available joining Harkin and Eamon Bushman in the front row, James Carr moved into the second row to add some bulk to the scrum alongside captain Neil Gillespie. In the backrow Cantwell and McNally were joined by Gary McEleney moving back into his preferred position. The backline was bolstered by the return from injury of Ritchie Fearon and Paddy “Jaki” Doherty.
Inishowen kicked off and faced into the wind, this strong wind was used by the experienced Armoy out half who kicked deep forcing the visitors to spend lengthy spells in their own 22. Inishowen had to try to run the ball out of the danger zone as the wind was making kicking to safety impossible, passes were being forced and mistakes were made handing possession back to the home side. Armoy used the big ball carriers to batter the Inishowen defence looking for gaps but the defensive line held strong soaking up pressure for 10 minutes, the first scrum of the day was awarded to Armoy and as the two packs locked horns it was Inishowen who got the upper hand by winning ball against the head. Inishowen were awarded a scrum shortly afterwards and Armoy surprised the visitors by stealing the ball back, this set the tone as both teams competed well on opposition scrums. A knock on by Inishowen was handled by a teammate in front of the offending player causing a penalty to Armoy, they pointed to the posts and opened the scoring. Armoy 3-0 Inishowen.
Recieving the restart Armoy once again pounded the defence, good tackling by McNally, Carr and Gillespie kept them at bay before a loose ball was kicked through by Paul Cassidy who gathered and ran half the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Mark Glasha added the conversion. Armoy 3-7 Inishowen.
Inishowen now growing in confidence looked dangerous in attack and solid in defence, powerful carries from Maurice Harkin and Cassidy caused the Armoy backline problems and shortly afterwards Cassidy broke from the half way line beating two would be tacklers before passing inside to numbe 8 Anthony Cantwell to score under the posts. Another conversion added stretched the visitors lead to 14-3. With halftime looming Armoy again threw everything at the Inish men, Kelly, Gillespie and McNally all picked up knocks defending against the big number 8 who has caused teams problems all season in the league but the defence held firm once again before a knock on turned over possession and Glasha kicked to touch and the ref blew for half time.
Inishowen started the second half with the wind at their backs and when the Armoy kick didn’t go the required 10 metres were awarded a scrum on the half way line, Glasha used the wind to pin the home side back into their 22. A penalty for Inishowen to the left of the posts was awarded and Glasha added the three points to stretch the lead to 17-3, from the restart a deep kick was chased by Cantwell and Ritchie who tackled the fullback and the Armoy support gave away another penalty by tackling around the neck in the ruck. Glasha again pointed to the posts and from a difficult angle added another 3 points giving the visitors a comfortable lead.
Armoy 3-20 Inishowen.
The home side once again used the crash ball to pressure the defence edging closer to the try line before the number 8 dived over to score, the conversion was added and Armoy closed the gap to 20-10. Inishowen players have shown on a couple of occasions this season that maths is not their strong point and for some reason thought the gap was only 6 points not 10 points, this made for a nervy final 20 as the visitors repeatedly gave possession to the hosts. Armoy kept pushing for another score and battered the try line before their prop was held up by Gillespie and Cantwell, the resulting scrum was once again stolen against the head and the pressure was relieved.
With 5 minutes left Inishowen worked their way back into the Armoy half before Mark Glasha hit a drop kick, the mathematicians jumped for joy as they now realised the extra three points put the game out of Armoy’s reach.
Final score Armoy 10-23 Inishowen.
A good all round team performance with everybody working hard, the front row won numerous scrums against the head and Eamon Bushman impressing once again at hooker. With a home draw in the semi final coming up Inishowen will be looking to make their third Butler shield final in four years, league action resumes on Saturday with a home tie against Letterkenny and with only three games left a repeat performance is needed.

Similar Posts