Following an impressive 50-12 win at home to Newbridge last week, next up for Clon thirds was a very tricky derby fixture away to Tallaght 2nds. Unfortunately last week’s win came at a high cost, as Clon had lost more timber than the Amazon rainforest in a week, forced to make the short hop across to Tymon Park without Ciaran Cullen, Tom Duffy, Luke Tweets Sweetman and captain Conor Moloney.
The opening stages of this contest were an even affair with Tallaght throwing the kitchen sink at Clon but they were repelled by a yellow wall led upfront by Adam Brown, Mick Gilbert, Mark O’Rourke and Ryan Cahill. On Clondalkin’s first chance to attack, it was stand-in captain Chris ‘Farmboy’ Kelly who made the game’s first break, with a 50 metre run from number 8 splitting the Tallaght defence open. Big carries from the pack and the returning Dylan Kavanagh got Clondalkin to within 5 metres of the opening score and second row Mick Gilbert duly delivered, carrying three Tallaght defenders over the line with him to dot down. Rae Connor was pin point accurate with the sideline conversation and the away side led 7-0.
That lead was quickly cancelled out, as Tallaght’s outhalf Rob Hudson pinned Clondalkin into their own 22 and a sloppy kick chase was punished immediately as Tallaght’s big centre raced clear and sent his full back over to level the game at 7-7.
With honours even at half time Clondalkin turned to their bench and launched the experienced trio of Lee Bagnall to midfield and Derek Murtagh & Chris Murray to the pack. Murtagh opened the half with a superb hit & Murray didn’t need a second invitation to immediately set about causing organised mayhem. The big lock was everywhere in the second 40, forcing multiple turnovers in both the tackle and ruck. A superb exit by outhalf Dave Gaule, put the away side into great field position and a quick tap by Ricky Skelton followed by soft hands from Kev Cullen & Gaule drew in the defence and saw fullback Connor sprint free to finish a wonderful team score.
Connor didn’t stop there and quickly extended Clon’s lead to 15-7 with a well struck penalty after more pressure from the away side’s midfield.
However in a carbon copy of the first half, just as Clondalkin had opened a lead, Tallaght roared back into the game. First a carry by Derek Murtagh was smashed back and then some sloppy work in the back field by ‘the Polar Bear’ gave the home side great field position. With the game in the balance, Clon had one card left to play – Jonny “the Hips” Stapleton was released to add a bit of pzazz to proceedings. More pressure from Tallaght was finally rewarded as Stapleton himself was penalised for his first tackle of the decade. Outhalf Hudson penalised the error and it was back to a one score game at 15-10 with 5 minutes to go. However, as much as Tallaght tried, another Murray turnover got Clondalkin out of jail & a relieved Connor hoofed the ball half way back to Gordon Park to seal a great away victory.
Next up is a week off and the 3rds will return on 30th October at home to AIB, which will be followed by the presentation of the Chris Stapleton Cup for their incredible league win last season. We couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to a wonderful family, as Chris himself was a CRFC legend and a driving force of our wonderful club in our formative years. The cup itself will be presented to his sons John “Sid”, as team manager, and the evergreen Eamonn who scored the title clinching try away to Tallaght last season. All are welcome to roar the lads home and to mark this incredible occasion for the Stapleton & Clon families.
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