Rugby Feature Piece: Billy Quinlan (Highfield Director Of Rugby) – The Evening Echo – March 30 2020

Highfield director of rugby says club are well placed despite missing promotion

If you cast your mind back to April 2016, the Cork club were in a much different place to the one they currently find themselves in. With one round remaining in Division 2B of the All-Ireland League, they were one point adrift of City of Derry at the summit of the table.

However, thanks to a bonus-point triumph over Bective Rangers — which bettered the Ulster side’s own victory against MU Barnhall — they claimed the fourth-tier title and haven’t looked back since.

They secured the Division 2A crown last season and, with four games remaining in this term, the Woodleigh Park outfit were on the brink of reaching the top-flight of the AIL.

Unfortunately, the league has ultimately been brought to a premature end as a consequence of COVID-19 and Highfield will have to do it all again in 2020/21.

Nevertheless, director of rugby, Billy Quinlan, insists they will retain a positive outlook in advance of their eventual return to competitive action.

“The club is in a good position. We’ve had a very good coaching structure in place. Very good off-the-field structure. We’ve a superb group of players. There’s good player welfare up there.

“The guys get their grub after training on Thursdays, small things like this. Robert Bogue, who was director of rugby before me up to this year, he did a brilliant job,” Quinlan asserted.

“There’s years of hard work from our point of view. Whatever happens, we’ll bounce back, take it on the chin. We’ll do whatever we need to do. Whatever happens next year, we’ll come back stronger.”

A former player with Highfield, Quinlan assumed his current role from the Bogue at the tail end of 2019. As he explains, it has been a seamless transition.

“I’ve been up in the club 20-odd years. I’d know a lot of the people involved. I know the structure up there. Robert Bogue is still involved. We’ve good people involved in the club right through.

“Invariably with good people involved, you’ll have good decisions made. It has been easy enough. There’s been a lot of hands on deck. It makes it a lot easier. You’re not thrown in at the deep end.”

One man who has played a massive part in the Highfield revolution, both on an off the field, has been player/coach Timmy Ryan. A former tighthead prop with Munster, Toulon and Newcastle Falcons (among others), the 35-year-old has transformed the fortunes of the Leesiders in recent years transposing his vast knowledge of the professional game onto Ireland’s domestic scene.

He is now expected to move onto pastures new and Quinlan hailed the impact made by Ryan during his second stint at the club.

“Timmy has been brilliant for the club in the last five, six years. He’ll be missed because it seems like he’s moving on to Wales. He brought a lot of experience, he brought a winning mentality.

“He changed the psyche of the team and the club, in many ways. Again, that wouldn’t have happened without people buying into it off the pitch as well.

“People gave him licence to do it because they recognised he could do it and it has worked really well. Highfield always in the past have been described as a sleeping giant and what have you. With Timmy’s help, I think that’s been laid to rest.”

It isn’t all geared towards the senior men’s team down in Woodleigh Park, though, as they have maintained a competitive edge at virtually every grade and level of competition. The second team had climbed to third spot in Munster Senior League Division 1 while their thirds recorded seven wins from 10 games in the South Junior 2 League.

Additionally, they also enjoyed a productive campaign in the U20 Donal Walsh Plate — finishing a single point behind pace-setters Bruff.

“We’ve 40-odd training between the firsts and the seconds. On the J2s we have 30-odd training as well and we’ve an U20 team. Just before the outbreak of the coronavirus, we had entered a team in the J3 plate even. It shows you, our numbers are great. People are enjoying it, it’s a good place to be at the moment and long may it continue,” Quinlan said.

Yet, there is still some room for growth within the club. Having spent many years in the sole division of their All-Ireland League, the Highfield senior women have struggled for numbers in the past couple of seasons.

With current Ireland internationals Leah Lyons, Ellen Murphy and Laura Sheehan having lined out for the club in the recent past, Quinlan acknowledged it will be important to have a competitive squad for the future generations of Highfield girls to look up to.

“I think with the women’s, the numbers seemed to dwindle a bit. I think it ran its course up there, more than anything. The numbers just weren’t there to sustain it. I think we were one of the only clubs in Cork for a long, long time with a women’s team.

“We’ve four adult teams up already and very strong underage. We’re very much a community club. That says it all really, we’re open to anything,” Quinlan added.

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Schools Cup Finals Cancellation: The Kildare Nationalist – March 24 2020

SCHOOLS RUGBY

School finals fall by the wayside

By Daire Walsh

THE past week was set to have been one of the most memorable periods in the recent history of Newbridge College. Thanks to their respective semi-final victories over Terenure College and St Michael’s College, the school had simultaneously reached the Senior Cup and Junior Cup rugby finals for the first time since 1939.

Fortune wasn’t on the side of the south Kildare men 81 years ago. The senior outfit lost to Blackrock College in their showpiece meeting, while their junior counterparts were defeated by Cistercian College Roscrea in a replayed final affair.

Yet given ‘Bridge had accounted for defending double champions St Michael’s College in both competitions this term, hope was high they could emerge with the silverware on this occasion. The record books may well show in future months that Newbridge were crowned champions in 2020, but they won’t be the only name added to the roll of honour.

In response to the Government advice surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the IRFU – in conjunction with the four provinces of Ireland – announced the suspension of all domestic activity from March 12 to March 29 inclusive.

This immediately led to the postponement of both the Senior Cup final between Newbridge and Clongowes Wood College at the RDS on March 17 – which would have been the first all-Kildare showcase at that grade – in addition to the Junior Cup showdown involving ‘Bridge and Blackrock College in Energia Park, Donnybrook five days later.

Further action was then taken by the union last Thursday (March 19) when the domestic seasons were brought to an abrupt haul. Within their statement, the IRFU said:

“Cups will be shared by finalists, where cup competitions have reached the final fixture.”

Given schools rugby forms a very big part of the domestic scene, this in all probability will see Newbridge College sharing the Senior Cup and Junior Cup crowns with Clongowes and Blackrock over the next 12 months.

Though it lends an anti-climactic feel to what had been extraordinary campaigns for both of Newbridge’s squads, it shouldn’t take away from the excellent performances they delivered in recent weeks and months.

When contacted about the IRFU’s decision, Newbridge junior coach Dave Brew said:

“Everyone within the college was understandably disappointed at the cancellation of the game but health and safety has to be the number one priority in a difficult time for the country.”

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Schools Cup Finals Cancellation: The Kildare Nationalist – March 24 2020

Naas RFC Interview: Gary Rowan (Director Of Rugby) – The Kildare Nationalist – March 24 2020

RUGBY: GARY ROWAN INTERVIEW – NAAS RFC DIRECTOR OF RUGBY

“They’ve done the right thing”

By Daire Walsh

NAAS RFC Director of Rugby Gary Rowan was in full agreement with the IRFU’s decision last Thursday to bring a permanent halt to the 2019/20 domestic season.

Owing to the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a host of matches – as well as collective training sessions – across all grades of rugby had already been postponed. With the current restrictions imposed by the Irish Government set to extend well beyond the initial date of 29 March, the union took their own steps to combat this global pandemic.

“They’ve done the right thing, for sure. Rugby is very important, but I think everybody is seeing the bigger picture here. That there’s a bigger crisis than rugby at the minute. Rugby is a sport that we all love, we play for enjoyment,” Rowan acknowledged.

“Certainly not being able to train and play over the last couple of weeks, it has been very, very difficult. It’s difficult times across the club but on the scale of things, people are dying at the end of the day. We kind of put it in perspective.”

As a consequence of their directive on this matter, there won’t be any promotion or relegation within all five divisions of the men’s All-Ireland League. Whereas this comes as a major blow to north Kildare outfit MU Barnhall – who were flying high at the summit of Division 2A – Naas will retain their 1B status having found themselves second from bottom with just four games remaining.

Though a ninth-place finish would have left them facing into a relegation play-off, Rowan felt survival was well within the grasp of the Forenaughts side.

“I think we would have gotten out of it. We worked very hard over Christmas, got some good results after Christmas. You can never be overconfident. I can’t say to you ‘listen, we surely would have been in Division 1B’. I was impressed with the way the players reacted to it. The attitude that we showed all season, particularly over Christmas, to get back in it.

“Who knows what would have happened, but we’ve been in relegation battles a lot over the years. Not everything has been sugar and candy like the last couple of years. I think the fight would have been there, the battle would have been there. That’s what I’m quietly confident of.”

Of course, this drastic alteration to the rugby calendar affected more than just the adult teams within Naas. The underage sides also saw their seasons coming to an end, with many of them originally set to kick-start cup campaigns in the coming weeks.

The U16 boys squad secured a Leinster league title at Tullow’s expense on March 7 and had already begun preparations for a forthcoming All-Ireland semi-final. Nevertheless, rather than lamenting the end of their memorable journey, Rowan was keen to focus on how this team can help to deliver a bright future for the club.

“It really does seem to be an excellent side. There’s a lot of great hope in a lot of those lads that they’re going to go really well in the game. Whether that’s with Naas or Leinster or other clubs. There’s some really talented guys there. That’s one part of it, they’ve an excellent coaching set-up as well.

“Karl Alexander and Paddy McDonnell, they’ve really gotten stuck in and looked after them. That’s going to leave us in good stead for the next couple of years. Every year it is a battle. Guys retire every year. Players give up because of life situations, so you need constant influx of other guys in the team,” Rowan added.

Posted in Senior Club Rugby | Comments Off on Naas RFC Interview: Gary Rowan (Director Of Rugby) – The Kildare Nationalist – March 24 2020

Highfield RFC News Piece: Billy Quinlan (Director Of Rugby) – The Evening Echo – March 24 2020

Cork rugby: Highfield left frustrated as AIL season called off when they were in pole position for promotion to top flight

HIGHFIELD Director of Rugby Billy Quinlan felt there was a lack of communication surrounding the IRFU’s decision last Thursday to bring the season to an abrupt end.

Clubs throughout the land had already been idle for a couple of weeks due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and will now have to wait until next term before making a return to competitive action.

The Woodleigh Park men were on the brink of promotion to the All-Ireland League top-flight, with a nine-point cushion at the summit of Division 1B and just four rounds remaining.

While Quinlan doesn’t disagree with the steps taken by the union, he believes it could have been handled in a different manner.

“In the bigger scheme of things, it’s difficult to argue against the cancellation of the league. We’re all in agreement, everybody in the country, the health of everybody comes first.

“That was our first reaction. We’ve a lot of questions about how the decision was reached and how it was communicated,” Quinlan stated.

“I think the clubs, in general, deserve much more than a tweet at 8pm on a night time to find this out. It’s certainly not a level of communication that we would be happy with in our club and we’re volunteers.

“We’ve question marks about it, obviously.

“It seems a bit rushed. I could be wrong, but it seems a bit rushed. Obviously the lads in the IRFU are under pressure as well, like everybody else. It’s a difficult time for everybody.”

Though he once more reiterated how serious the current situation is throughout the country, Quinlan nevertheless added that a number of clubs will be disappointed to see the season coming to an end.

“Cork Con there have had a fantastic season, they’re 12 points ahead in their division [1A]. That doesn’t come overnight, success like that. That’s years of planning.

“It’s the same with ourselves, all the other clubs and the women’s league. UL Bohs are way ahead in that. It’s disappointing for the clubs. I don’t think anybody will disagree with me on that,” Quinlan said.

Posted in Senior Club Rugby | Comments Off on Highfield RFC News Piece: Billy Quinlan (Director Of Rugby) – The Evening Echo – March 24 2020

Post-Match Reaction: Leinster Schools Junior Cup Semi-Final – Newbridge College Coach Dave Brew – The Kildare Nationalist – March 17 2020

POST-MATCH REACTION: NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE COACH DAVE BREW

Former stars inspiring current generation

By Daire Walsh

FOLLOWING the heroics of the senior squad in their semi-final seven days earlier, Newbridge College coach Dave Brew was delighted to see his side sealing the deal in the Leinster Schools Junior Cup last Tuesday.

Thanks to a stoppage-time try from Tadhg Brophy, ‘Bridge advanced to a March 22 showpiece against Blackrock College with a dramatic 24-19 victory over Terenure College at Energia Park in Donnybrook.

“To get to the final is a huge achievement. With the seniors going the way they’re going, it’s lovely to follow them into the final and see how we get on now. One more step. The school is an incredible place to be at the moment,” Brew remarked after the game.

Having made a dream start to the action with a Harry Farrell converted try in the fourth-minute, Newbridge were subsequently pegged back by their determined south Dublin opponents. With Eamon Geraghty and Yousif Ajina both crossing over, Terenure brought a 12-7 cushion into the interval.

Brew felt the Metropolitans negotiated the elements to good effect in the opening half-hour and generally posed a greater threat than St Michael’s College – whom Newbridge had defeated at the quarter-final stage.

“There was a big breeze blowing at our backs in the first half. We tended to hold onto the ball a little much. I’ve talked about us holding onto the ball, but on the day you play the conditions. For me, we kind of made it hard on ourselves. We should have kicked the ball into the other half and worry about it then.

“Terenure are a super side, I thought they were a much stiffer challenge than Michael’s. They brought a huge physicality to the game today. The day probably suited them with the breeze, the way it was.”

While it wasn’t all going according to plan for Newbridge, they remained calm and composed for the start of the second period. After issuing some final instructions to his troops, Brew was thrilled to see the Common outfit getting back on track with quickfire Farrell and Brophy tries.

“We hung in there. I thought we were clinical then when we did get an opportunity to go wide. I think you saw what we have to offer. The last message before they went out for the second half was ‘the score is 0-0. Go and win a half of rugby’. That was it.”

Newbridge have already begun preparations for what will be their first junior final appearance since 2012. On that occasion, they lost out narrowly (10-5) to a St Michael’s side that included current internationals James Ryan, Max Deegan and Ronan Kelleher.

Leinster’s Jimmy O’Brien featured at out-half for ‘Bridge eight years ago, while former Ireland great Jamie Heaslip was a prominent figure for their previous decider in 1998. Though the present crop are understandably in awe of this duo, Brew is always quick to remind them they were once in the position they currently find themselves in.

“We speak an awful lot about that. They see Jimmy O’Brien and they see Jamie Heaslip, these kind of guys. I remember having a conversation with them on our pitch about ‘you know, Jamie Heaslip was just a third year in the school and just a schoolboy when he was playing Junior Cup rugby’.

“When you’re playing these games, be very cognisant that future internationals are playing these matches. This is the top level of rugby that you can get. At their age, they are the future,” Brew added.

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Post-Match Reaction: Leinster Schools Junior Cup Semi-Final – Newbridge College Coach Dave Brew – The Kildare Nationalist – March 17 2020

Leinster Schools Junior Cup Semi-Final: Newbridge College V Terenure College – The Kildare Nationalist – March 17 2020

RUGBY – LEINSTER SCHOOLS JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL

Trophy’s dramatic winning try maintains Newbridge’s winning run

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE…………………………24

TERENURE COLLEGE…………………………..19

By Daire Walsh

LAST TUESDAY, before the Coronavirus wiped out the sporting calendar, Newbridge College maintained their penchant for late drama at Donnybrook last Tuesday to edge out Terenure College in a gripping Leinster Schools Junior Cup semi-final encounter.

Trailing by a single point in the closing moments of their last-eight meeting with 2019 champions St Michael’s College, ‘Bridge ultimately squeezed home courtesy of a final-minute penalty by replacement Michael Collins. With the clock in the red at the end of this penultimate round clash, Dave Brew’s charges looked set to be facing into a replay against the south Dubliners.

Jack Taylor and full-back Tadhg Brophy had others ideas, however, as the dynamic duo combined for the latter to claim a game-clinching try. As a consequence, Newbridge will now face 51-time champions Blackrock College in a showpiece affair at the same venue on March 22.

The Common school are currently riding the crest of a wave with Johne Murphy’s senior outfit pitting their wits against Kildare rivals Clongowes Wood College in a cup decider at the RDS later today. Given they have already secured the scalps of two heavyweight opponents, ‘Bridge will now fancy their chances of going all the way in 2020.

After winger Adam Larkin-Smithers made serious ground off a powerful run in the early exchanges, Newbridge proceeded to transfer the ball into a more central area. It was then left for Taylor to release Harry Farrell through a gap and the outside centre crashed over the whitewash for a fourth-minute try.

Andrew Carroll was on hand to supply the extras and with a seven point cushion at their disposal, ‘Bridge had the perfect platform on which to build. Yet, despite enduring a nightmare start to the contest, an impressive Terenure side gradually grew in stature.

Newbridge dug deep in defensive for large spells with skipper Ruairi Byrne and Ronan McGroary leading the way from the back-row. The Metropolitans were pushing hard for a try and though they were held up in the 18th-minute, the ensuing five-metre scrum acted as the catalyst for their equalising effort.

Lock Eamon Geraghty touched down in clinical style off this set-piece move and Harvey O’Leary’s routine conversion ensured parity had been restored. ‘Nure had served full notice of their potential and largely consigned Newbridge to their own half throughout the second-quarter.

The robust approach of Yousif Ajina offered the Metropolitans front-foot momentum and the bustling centre dotted down under a slew of bodies on 29 minutes. Though his midfield partner – O’Leary – was off-target with his latest bonus strike, ‘Nure had established a 12-7 buffer in time for the interval.

There was no need for Newbridge to panic just yet as they had showcased incredible resilience in their previous wins over St Gerard’s, Bray and Michael’s. Indeed, courtesy of a remarkable scoring blitz after the restart, they completely turned the tables on their big city counterparts.

Farrell picked up possession in an advanced area and after chasing down his own kick up the left-wing, evaded ‘Nure’s defensive cover for his fifth try in just three games. Carroll’s two-point salvo squeezed Newbridge back into the ascendancy and the gap was subsequently increased in the 38th-minute.

The diminutive Brophy embarked on a lung-bursting run from deep and got through for his second unconverted try of the competition. Newbridge’s ruthless streak was on full display as they were capitalising on practically every foray into enemy territory.

However, ‘Nure were able to secure the ball for long stretches and started to ramp up the attacking pressure inside the closing-quarter. Whilst Newbridge thwarted them on a number of occasions, Byrne’s sin-binning on 49 minutes left them temporarily hamstrung.

In his absence, ‘Nure exploited the additional space on offer with Ajina once again supplying the finishing touches to a prolonged move. O’Leary also converted to leave the final outcome up in the air.

Both teams enjoyed their share of possession in the dying embers of the play and it seemed inevitable that they would end up being inseparable. Yet the excellent Taylor summoned enough energy for one last break into the ‘Nure danger zone and he unleashed a telling pass out towards Brophy – who sent the Newbridge faithful into raptures.

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: Tadhg Brophy; Andrew Carroll, Harry Farrell, John Collins, Adam Larkin-Smithers; Paddy Taylor, Michael Collins; Daniel Walsh, John Sheedy, Shane Davitt; Ruairi Munnelly, Shane Treacy; Stephen Menton, Ronan McGroary, Ruairi Byrne.

Replacements: P Forde for Munnelly (44), Hugh Hamilton for Collins (56).

TERENURE COLLEGE: Jim Kennedy; Daniel Martin, Yousif Ajina, Harvey O’Leary, Eoghan Walsh; Harry Ennis, Paul Swords; Olan Storey, Mark Egan, Joshua Delaney; Eamon Geraghty, Matthew Somerville; Charlie Redmond-Murray, Carlos Mantero-Bolard, Ben Nolan.

Replacements: Oisin Flanagan for Geraghty (35), Conor O’Brien for Delaney, Rory King for Ennis (both 39), Michael Murphy for Egan (43).

Posted in Schools Rugby | Comments Off on Leinster Schools Junior Cup Semi-Final: Newbridge College V Terenure College – The Kildare Nationalist – March 17 2020

HEC Third Level Football Championships Captain’s Day (Preview): Emma Spillane (UCC) – The Evening Echo – March 13 2020

Shooting for the O’Connor Cup final

COLLEGES GAA

Daire Walsh

AFTER the heartbreak of last year’s crushing semi-final defeat to UCD, UCC defender Emma Spillane is aiming to reach her maiden O’Connor Cup decider at the Kerry Centre of Excellence.

DCU provide the opposition in Currans on Friday, with the winners progressing to face either defending champions UL or UCD in a showpiece affair the next day.

With the agonising reversal of 12 months ago still fresh in her mind, the Bantry Blues star is quietly confident they can pull it off.

“Last year we were very close to a spot in the final. UCD, I think they got a goal in the dying minutes of the game. They ended up beating us by a point. That was heartbreaking, particularly for the final years [players] on the team. That was their last chance of getting to an O’Connor Cup final,” Spillane acknowledged.

“Some of them had never won an O’Connor Cup. Obviously it was very disappointing for them and for everyone. You’d be hoping, after last year’s disappointment, it will drive us on this year and hopefully we’ll get to the final.”

If they have designs on overcoming the challenge of DCU – O’Connor Shield champions in 2019 – they will need to keep close tabs on the formidable Aishling Moloney. The Tipperary woman has been in sparkling form for both county and college thus far in 2020 and is expected to be the fulcrum of the Metropolitan outfit’s attack.

While UCC boss Shane Ronayne also manages Moloney in the Premier set-up, Spillane feels prior knowledge of the Cahir prodigy can only do so much.

“We played DCU in the league and they’re a phenomenal team. They’ve players who are very hard to stop. Everyone knows Aishling Moloney, she’s an absolute class player.

“Shane would know a lot about her and the way she plays. Hopefully that will help us next Friday. As much as you know about her, it’s not that easy to stop her. No matter what you know about her.”

UCC’s campaign kick-started with a comprehensive loss at the hands of UL, but they subsequently bounced back to reach a seventh consecutive semi-final. Though DCU’s recent 8-20 to 1-7 hammering of Ulster University signalled a major statement of intent, Spillane and her team-mates believe they have grown in stature as the competition has developed.

“We’re constantly improving. We’ve been training very hard the past few weeks. John Cleary and Shane Ronayne have put great work in. It’s fantastic to see us constantly improving and the girls really, really want a place in the final. Hopefully when it comes to next Friday, if we perform, it will be a very close game.”

Posted in Colleges GAA | Comments Off on HEC Third Level Football Championships Captain’s Day (Preview): Emma Spillane (UCC) – The Evening Echo – March 13 2020

Schools GAA Round-Up: The Evening Herald – March 12 2020

GAELIC GAMES

Castleknock defeated but Colmcille’s remain in hunt

Daire Walsh

DESPITE producing a gallant effort in St Loman’s, Mullingar, Castleknock CC suffered a seven-point defeat to Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore in Tuesday’s Leinster Senior ‘B’ Football Championship semi-final.

‘Knock had progressed to the provincial series as a result of their county final success against Malahide CS on February 25.

They lined out in the Westmeath venue without the services of Luke Swan, who played a starring role for the Dublin U20s in their Leinster final triumph over Laois last Friday night.

In his absence, Castleknock developed an encouraging 2-4 to 2-3 interval cushion. The Dublin champions remained in the ascendancy with 10 minutes remaining, but it was their Offaly counterparts who discovered an extra gear during the closing stages.

Courtesy of three-pointers from Luke Egan and Jack Bryant, Choilm ultimately advanced on a 4-9 to 3-5 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Knocklyon school St Colmcille’s CS and Dunshaughlin CC will be forced to do battle again after they played out a 2-9 to 3-6 draw in a Leinster Schools Junior ‘B’ football semi-final at Russell Park on Monday.

Posted in Schools GAA | Comments Off on Schools GAA Round-Up: The Evening Herald – March 12 2020

Leinster Senior League Major Division: Colepark United V Cherry Orchard – The Tallaght Echo – March 12 2020

Orchard bag the derby spoils at Colepark

COLEPARK UNITED………………………1

CHERRY ORCHARD………………………3

By Daire Walsh

CHERRY Orchard recovered from a shaky start at the CIE Works in Inchicore last Saturday to claim all three points against Colepark United in the Leinster Senior League Major Division.

Seeking to build on their encouraging recent form, Colepark edged in front courtesy of Daniel McTiernan’s ninth-minute goal. However, Cherry Orchard refused to panic and eventually levelled matters through Steven Nicholl’s neat finish.

Peter Thomas’ wonder strike subsequently edged them in front upon the resumption and skipper Karl Delaney also found the net to ensure they kept within touching distance of Bluebell United and Maynooth University at the summit of the table.

Following a run of five games without a win, Colepark had recorded an impressive 2-0 home victory against St Patrick’s CY on January 25. They backed up this result with a 2-1 triumph over Bangor GG seven days later before sharing the spoils with Pat’s on February 22.

This left them on a sound footing for the visit of Orchard in a clash that saw the Shortall brothers finding themselves in opposite corners. Brian – a former UCD, Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic centre-half – lining out for Colepark, while his brother Patrick is currently in charge of Cherry Orchard.

Brian Shortall was joined in the Colepark starting 11 by his former Pat’s team-mate Sean O’Connor, who helped the hosts take the early initiative.

After Bradley Cox had an earlier effort turned away by Orchard netminder Jamie Geoghegan, Mick Boylan’s men eventually broke the deadlock.

Centre-half Stephen Mahoney flicked on Jamie Maher’s corner on the right-wing and the towering McTiernan was on hand to head beyond the reach of Geoghegan.

Yet a swift counter hauled the Orchard back on level terms in the 36th-minute.

Having broken at pace towards the Colepark box, it was left for Thomas to deliver a precise ball into the path of Nicholl. The industrious winger cut onto his favoured right foot and angled a firm shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

The visitors were starting to grow in confidence and Aaron Duffy headed just past the post off a Junior Sanusi cross.

Thomas had a brace of near misses in the early moments of the second half and Brendan Berry’s speculative set-piece floated just wide of the mark in the 53rd-minute. Colepark kept themselves in contention with some diligent defensive work and Cox continued to provide an attacking threat in unison with Shane Donoghue.

Thomas’ influence was becoming more pronounced, though, and he produced the goods for his side just past the hour mark. Picking up possession in a deep area, the central midfielder unleashed an unstoppable long-range drive into the roof of the Colepark net.

This moved Orchard within sight of their 10th success of the season and they effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt with a third goal on 71 minutes. Sanusi released the raiding Delaney down the right-flank and the full-back fired under the advancing Stephen O’Toole to create further daylight between the teams.

Berry and Duffy were close to grabbing a fourth and although they lost defender Daniel Mullen to a second yellow-card late on, Cherry Orchard eased over the line in efficient style.

COLEPARK UNITED: S O’Toole; L O’Brien, S Mahoney, B Shortall, S Rogers; M Hendricks, S O’Connor; B Cox, J Maher, S Donoghue; D McTiernan (G Maher 72).

CHERRY ORCHARD: J Geoghegan; K Delaney, D Mullen, C Dunne, B Berry; J Sanusi (D Fagan 88), K Bowden (L Murtagh 72), P Thomas, S Nicholl (R Casserly 65); A Duffy (D Brady 83), L Cummins.

Posted in Junior Soccer | Comments Off on Leinster Senior League Major Division: Colepark United V Cherry Orchard – The Tallaght Echo – March 12 2020

HEC Third Level Football Championships Captain’s Day: Emma Spillane (UCC) – The Evening Echo – March 12 2020

Spillane happy with coaching roles blend

LADIES FOOTBALL

Daire Walsh

DESPITE opting to take a year out from the panel, two-time All-Star Emma Spillane has been keeping a close watch on Cork’s progress in the LIDL National Football League.

Having secured a record 12th top-flight crown at the expense of Galway last May, the Leesiders are firmly in the hunt for title number 13 courtesy of their impressive start to 2020.

While Spillane was delighted to see Ephie Fitzgerald remaining at the helm – she believes the coaching roles taken up by Paddy O’Shea and Conor Quinlan has provided additional impetus to the inter-county set-up.

“It’s great to have familiar faces, who brought in a few new people to the management team.

“For the girls that have been there and the girls that have been brought on, it’s good to have someone who knows them.

“But also someone new, who can spot different things and different aspects of the game. I think it’s great that there’s a mixture now,” Spillane said.

Once summer moves into view, Spillane’s concentration will be on the latest edition of the club championships – where she is expected to line out for both Bantry Blues and West Cork.

She reached the senior decider with the latter in 2019, eventually losing out to All-Ireland champions Mourneabbey.

Before then, she will place all on her focus on UCC and their forthcoming O’Connor Cup weekend at the Kerry Centre of Excellence.

Having fallen short at the semi-final stage over the past two years, Spillane is hopeful they can avoid a similar fate when they face DCU on Friday in Currans.

“The past two years we’ve made it to the semi-final stage and we’ve lost out narrowly enough.

“This is only my third year in college. I haven’t made it to the final yet, so this year we’ll be hoping to go a step further.

“If not two and win the competition.”

Spillane was speaking in Croke Park last Thursday at a Captain’s Day for the HEC Third Level Championship Finals – the O’Connor Cup being one of six deciders down for decision in the Kingdom.

Spillane was standing in on the day for team skipper Mairead Corkery, but was fulsome in her praise of the St Val’s star.

“Mairead is great. This is her fifth year now on the team, so she knows the ins and outs of the competition.

“She has been to the weekend before, she has loads of experience. She’s a fantastic player, she’s great to play with. I’m delighted that she’s captain this year,” Spillane added.

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