Shannon RFC v Lansdowne FC

Energia AIL Division 1 A

Saturday 10th February 2024

Thomond Park

Shannon 13 – 28 Lansdowne


Two by two they came; the animals, or in this case the Lansdowne supporters, came two by two.  Undaunted by reports of the coming deluge, Lansdowne’s hardy supporters took to the highways and bi-ways to support Fassbender’s Furys as they faced Shannon at Thomond Park on Saturday.

At the head of the Exodus south was the Executive Express with Gavin “Verstappen” Lee delivering President Roo and VP Shaw to Thomond Park like a pizza man who doesn’t get paid if the package arrives cold. Then there was the more sedate Ex Presidents’ Cortege, with Moriss Minors and Ford Cortinas carrying those who hadn’t availed of the free travel for OAPs.  And there were also plenty of parents of players and hardy regulars from LFC that made the trip to support the team, including Chairman of Rugby, Enda Bohan and his companion, Ian “too wet to say hello” Hopkins.

Shannon desperately needed the win and must have felt that the elements were on their side as the early mist turned to drizzle and eventually to sheets of rain by the second half. We needed a solid rather than flashy performance to prevail and that’s just what Captain Jack Cooke and his hardy crew delivered.

The early exchanges had the two sides exchanging mistakes and penalties, before each got the full measure of the conditions.  The hosts drew first blood as their bantam out half with a mighty left boot took a long-range penalty to put them three points up after ten minutes.  The slugfest continued for another period with neither side winning prizes for flair or adventure, but slowly it started to look like Lansdowne were getting the measure of the opposition as well as the conditions.  A penalty in the middle of the pitch and our outhalf, Stephen Madigan placed the ball in the corner for a 10m lineout.  Jumper Clive Ross took Tom Barry’s deft throw cleanly and Shannon put all their pack into their defence of the maul that followed. So many Shannon men were committed, in fact, that number 8 Harry Van Eeden couldn’t believe his luck when a gap the size of the Shannon Tunnel appeared and he broke from the back the maul to take full advantage, scoring our first points on the 20 minute mark. Stephen added the extras and it was 3 – 7.

A sure sign that Lansdowne were well organized was seen immediately from the efficiency with which we handled the dangerously hanging restart.  Prop, Temi Lassi lifted Jack Cooke for a clean catch and openside flanker Barry Fitzpatrick took one of his many powerful breaks on the day to bring the game right back to the Shannon half.  Lansdowne were looking much the sharper now with excellent ruck speed and rush defence. But playing close to the edge, they caught the eye of the ref and we conceded a few penalties, allowing the Shannonsiders back into our half and then unfortunately, within range of their excellent kicker. 6 – 7 as we entered the second quarter.

But we worked our way back into their half and now it was our turn to force Shannon to concede the penalties.  Mads put us in the corner and it looked like another lineout maul on the short side might bear more fruit. And that’s just what Shannon must have thought too, so imagine their surprise when, after several short attacks well defended, scrum half Jack Matthews passed the ball wide to Mads and he out to full back (and recently minted club international) Cathal Eddy who beat two defenders to go over near the posts for our second. 6 – 14 on the half hour mark.

Again, our defence from the restart was rock solid, as Shannon came attacking in waves again, but the conditions were getting worse and it was growing easier to force mistakes.  Jack Matthews was quick to take advantage of one such mistake as Shannon dropped the now soap-like ball on our 10 metre line. He booted it clear of our danger zone and won the chase that followed to dribble it further into their half. Another penalty to Lansdowne after a few phases and Stephen returns us to the corner in the hopes of one more score before half time.  Close and closer still, it’s all Lansdowne now and our pressure finally pays dividends when we force a five-meter scrum. Harry Van Eeden takes the ball off the back of the solid scrum and finds Rory Parata who powers over the line.  Another conversion from Stephen and we go into the half time on a comfortable, if damp, cushion of 6 – 21.

Into the wind and now horizontal rain for the restart, we could hear the sound of carpenters in the surrounding neighborhood getting to work on their Arks.  The first score of the second half would define the rest of the game and the now biblical elements seemed to be with the home side. In spite of this, one particularly “Vanner”able elder Lansdowne lemon proclaimed “I believe Lansdowne are going to win.”  And, as if his words had come from Noah himself, the players started the second half inspired.

Yet another excellent gathering from the Shannon restart and the ruck that followed gave Mads the time and space to place an excellent clearance to inside their half.  The Shannon fullback returned the kick which winger Sean Galvin gathers on our 22 and counter attacks, cutting inside to their 10 meter line does a one two with Jack Matthews and then delivers quick ball to Barry Fitz, running an irresistible line that takes him over for a super try in the left corner. Mads does the honours again and it’s 6 – 28 and a bonus point in the bag, with the second half only minutes old.

Shannon, being the quality club that they are, came back fighting and the next 20 minutes belonged to them.  We had to scramble in defence, drawing the ire of the ref as we conceded penalty after penalty. The pressure showed and the hosts inevitably went over. 13 – 28 and now the Shannon tails were up. Could they stage an heroic comeback, or did we have the grit to grind out the win?  For a while we looked in trouble and may even have come close to a yellow, which could have changed things considerably, but full marks to this entire group, players, subs and the whole management team; there’s real steel there.

The turning point was a scrum on our own 10 metre line as we entered the final quarter. Props Temi Lassi and Greg McGrath deserve credit for out playing their bigger opposite numbers and winning a hugely uplifting penalty from the scrum. We cleared the line up to the half way, and when another lineout followed soon for Shannon, we stole that too, breaking the last of the Shannon resistance.  The subs now also added fresh energy to our efforts with Donough Lawlor having a big impact and club captain Cillian Redmond making a short but very welcome return to the top flight after an extended injury.  They say the best form of defence is attack and we spent the last 15 minutes peppering their line in short, out wide and everything in between.  When the final whistle blew, there was a sprint to the club house for some shelter and warmth.  Within moments, the cold and wet conditions and fierce rivalry of the pitch were forgotten, and we were treated to the excellent and genuine hospitality of the Shannon members. It wasn’t their day on the pitch, but class clubs like theirs are built over generations not on just one day.

Big match next week.  Let’s see everyone down at HQ for the Terenure match.


SHANNON 13 LANSDOWNE 28, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Try: Kelvin Brown; Con: Mike Cooke; Pens: Mike Cooke 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Hardus van Eeden, Cathal Eddy, Rory Parata, Barry Fitzpatrick; Cons: Stephen Madigan 4
HT: Shannon 6 Lansdowne 21

SHANNON: Aran Hehir; Stephen Kiely, Cian O’Halloran, Harry Long, Jack O’Donnell; Mike Cooke, Will Reilly; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Luke Rigney, Gus Ryan, Ciaran Vaughan, Tadhg O’Brien, Lee Nicholas (capt), Daniel Okeke.
Replacements: Darragh McSweeney, Adam Moloney, David Maher, Kelvin Brown, Dan Hurley, John O’Sullivan.

LANSDOWNE: Cathal Eddy; Peter Sullivan, Rory Parata, Tom Monaghan, Sean Galvin; Stephen Madigan, Jack Matthews; Temi Lasisi, Tom Barry, Greg McGrath, Jack Cooke (capt), Ruairi Clarke, Clive Ross, Barry Fitzpatrick, Hardus van Eeden.
Replacements: Luke Thompson, George Morris, Steve Walshe, Donough Lawlor, James Kenny, Cillian Redmond.


Lansdowne  1st XV v Shannon AIL 10th February 2024