The Senior Cup campaign ended in Temple Hill when CBC beat Glenstal 41-8 in the Quarter Final of the Munster Senior Cup. It was a bitter disappointment for the Glenstal squad who had been plagued by injuries and misfortune throughout the season. Many players were carrying significant injuries and as a result, the squad could not play to anything like its full potential. It was so disappointing as some great rugby was played in various games since September.
This year’s SCT squad was small in number and if Glenstal was to have any chance of success everyone needed to be fit and on the field. However, the fates seemed to be against us throughout the year and more especially, during this Cup campaign. There was not one game in the season where the entire first fifteen played a game together. What was so remarkable about this particular group led by Captain Eoin Hurley was that they never let misfortune get them down. They faced up to every situation, sometimes seemingly impossible ones with guts, bravery and determination. The senior players namely Eoin Hurley, Kevin O’Keeffe, Rossa Dooley, Andrew Boland, Hugh Connors, Conor Hughes, Jack Boland, Richie O’Hara, Michael Hogan, Conor Buckley, Henry Beynon were the backbone of the team. Three of them were carrying serious injuries in the game against C.B.C.
All people on the sideline could do was marvel at the bravery and single-mindedness of the entire squad who put it up to every team they met this season. Because of the many upsets, other teams and squads would have given up the ghost long ago. And nobody would blame them. But not this group of extraordinary players and characters. The truth of the matter is that they didn’t get anything like what they deserved from this season. Even against CBC, no bounce of a ball or even a modicum of luck seemed to go our way. Sport and indeed life can be cruel.
So, when the dust settles on a season that saw so many setbacks and injuries, one might be mistaken in the view that this was not a great period for Glenstal rugby. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this season has heralded one of the finest eras for Glenstal rugby. It is very easy to play well when you have a big squad of players who are talented and injury-free. This season the Glenstal Senior squad had to dig deeper into the well than any previous ones. Their legacy will be stamped indelibly on future Glenstal rugby squads. They showed us that no matter what the impediments, nothing is impossible. The standards of fitness, commitment , skill and strength that they achieved has set the bar higher than it has ever been before. No Senior squad worked harder that Eoin Hurley’s men. But alas, no Senior squad in Glenstal has ever been less-rewarded for their monumental and heroic efforts. It just wasn’t fair and to watch them come off the field in Temple Hill was one of the saddest sights imaginable.
As for the game, there is no doubt that the better team won on the day and after the game, the strong Cork contingent of Glenstal players genuinely wished their opposite numbers from CBC all the best in their semi-Final game ahead. But the truth is that the score somewhat flattered CBC. The half-time score of 10-8 meant that Glenstal were in with a reasonable chance of a good result from the game. Kevin O’Keeffe scored an absolutely brilliant try in the first half which saw the whole team involved in moving the ball about the field and finally opening a gap for the score. If only Glenstal could have gotten enough quality ball in the second half they would have been able to run CBC around the field a lot more. However, there was a strong wind behind CBC’s backs in the second half which made it very difficult for Glenstal to make any significant territorial advantages. Ten minutes into the half and Glenstal saw themselves trailing 21-8. At this stage there were two choices for the team: they could play a containment game and keep the score at a reasonable level and face a certain loss; or they could throw caution to the wind and have a go to try and win the game. Eoin Hurley and his men choose the latter, risk-filled option. Throughout the season they were never there to make up the numbers and this game was to be no exception. The had to take risks with the way they played and unfortunately this left them exposed. CBC punished any Glenstal errors and scored three relatively easy trys, leaving a final score tally which didn’t accurately reflect the game. Hats off the CBC though who capitalized and punished any and all Glenstal errors.
So, what is to be gained from this Senior season? One couldn’t help but feel that no Glenstal squad ever experienced such bad luck before. Hopefully, no Glenstal team will ever experience it ever again. What was so gratifying and admirable was how a group of disperse young men came together and directly confronted every trial and tribulation that was thrown at them. Not only that, they didn’t let anything faze them and got on with things. They never made excuses and stuck together through thick and thin. They gained not only our admiration but more importantly still, earned our respect.
There is certainly a life lesson there, not only for the players but also for those of us who were privileged to witness them develop so brilliantly this season. We all have a lot to be thankful to them for. They made us proud and gained genuine respect from all… which goes way beyond the rugby field. For this we are thankful.
Aiden McNulty, James Hickey and all the backroom team worked tirelessly throughout the season. They instilled a confidence and belief in the squad which paid off in plenty. Each and everyone of the players knows what they owe James and Aiden and the others without whom none of the achievements of this season would be possible.
To the teams who will take on the mantle of Senior rugby in Glenstal, you have a standard that has been set by this squad which you must maintain and then surpass. One couldn’t help but believe that when Eoin Hurley spoke to the assembled school on the team’s return to Glenstal (attached photo) that there can be an historic cup to be won for some of the faces looking up at him. And we all look up in admiration and respect to Eoin Hurley’s Senior Rugby Squad of 2012-2013. Thanks to each and everyone of them.