The positive momentum generated by Carrick-on-Suir’s flying start to the Munster Junior League season has carried itself into knock-out football.
Despite injury problems in the pack, the Tybroughney men are now just 80 minutes away from a place in the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Shield thanks to a one-point win over Ennis on Sunday.
On a mucky surface and in persistent mist, both teams attempted to play positive rugby, with the full-backs on both teams (Adam O’Loughlin at 15 for Carrick) willing to attack at every opportunity.
Just one front row injury away from uncontested scrums (therefore forfeiting the match), Carrick dug deep and demonstrated the mettle which has featured in all their performances to date this season.
Ennis, a mid-table Division Two outfit, must have fancied their chances when seeing Carrick take to the pitch with just one available replacement in Dermot Lanigan, who featured well when introduced for the injured Benny Woods.
But it was Carrick who stood tallest at the full-time whistle, and will face Saint Mary’s of Limerick in a semi-final for the right to face Charleville in the decider.
It’s worth noting that during last season Carrick defeated Mary’s on their travels but went down to Charleville in a ding-dong battle in Cork.
Winger Alban Coughlan dived under the posts for a first half try which was converted by Ross Clery after Ennis held an early advantage thanks to two penalty kicks.
But it was the hosts who went in with a six-point advantage thanks to a converted try, leaving the score 13-7 in their favour at the break.
Ross Clery kicked over another penalty to reduce the gap to three points before the visitors registered their second try of a damp afternoon.
Peter Steele, another player who has performed with great effect this season, finished off a fine counter-attack involving Lanigan,
duly converted via Clery’s reliable boot.
Carrick led by four points and it was to prove a lead they held onto – just!
While Ennis added two further penalty kicks to their total, Clery replied with a three-pointer of his own to leave Carrick arms raised aloft at full-time.
The re-arranged League fixture with Galbally will be played in the Glen of Aherlow next Sunday (2.30pm kick-off), and after such a resolute showing last Sunday, confidence will be running high in Carrick ranks.
Meanwhile, Carrick’s Second XV were well beaten by neighbours Clonmel over the weekend.