The first competitive rugby action of 2010 went ahead last weekend – in fact, only two matches in all of Munster had to be cancelled due to poor conditions.
Some of the rugby was actually played in welcome sunshine with Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford City recording away victories in the Munster Junior Cup.
While Carrick had a short jaunt down the road to Ballyrandle to take on Dungarvan (where their Second XVs played out a 10-10 draw), City made the long trip to Scariff on Sunday.
Both matches were firmly in the balance at half-time; with Dungarvan and Carrick locked on three points apiece and City trailing 14-8 to the Claremen.
But, as both teams have done more than once this season, their greater finishing power came to bear against sticky, dogged opposition.
Carrick, O’Sullivan Cup winners already this season and firmly in contention for promotion from Division Three, can thank right wing Michael Cronin for their victory, as he contributed all 19 points.
Thanks to Cronin’s try, conversion and four penalties (the first of which was a beauty from 40 metres), Carrick progressed after a ferocious battle between both packs.
A tempestuous second half led to a flurry of yellow cards (three for Carrick, two for Dungarvan), with Carrick’s Eddie Barry sent off for a second indiscretion after an earlier spell in the bin. Michael Irwin provided Dungarvan’s sole score via the kicking tee.
As for City, who’ve demonstrated ‘bouncebackability’ in spades this season, they shook off that interval deficit in style, scoring 22 unanswered points during a superb second half display.
Crossing the whitewash hasn’t been a problem for City this season, and that rich vein of scoring form was maintained thanks to tries from John Doran, Gary Keane, Mick Costello and Karl Reid.
Aaron Foskin added two conversions and two penalties to make the long drive home a happy one for the Kilbarry men.
The promotion hunt resumes for both clubs next weekend, a round of matches which could go a long way towards separating a closely huddled pack at the top.
Carrick, who lie fourth on 21 points after seven games, travel to league leaders Charleville, where a win would take the Tybroughney side within five points of the summit.
A win next weekend, and a bonus point success in the game in hand Carrick hold over Charleville would draw both clubs level, so there’s little concealing the significance of Sunday’s encounter.
City, currently third on 23 points having played eight games, will also be in County Cork, taking on Fermoy, currently just two points behind City but with a game in hand.
Dungarvan, vastly improved over the last five matches, will seek a second league win of the campaign when they host second placed Mallow, a match certain to interest both Carrick and City.
Just six points separate Mallow in second from sixth placed Douglas, and in a league where every point matters, expect every ball to be chased until the final whistle. All games are scheduled for 2.30pm starts.