THE EXILES, so dominant in recent St. Stephen’s Day matches for the coveted James Moran Exiles Perpetual Cup, again retained the trophy but on this occasion it took a final move of the game score to secure bragging rights. This duel was finely balanced from start to finish and, consequently, much more appealing to the supporters of both sides who ventured out after the Christmas turkey and pud. Conor Egan’s last gasp touchdown earned the spoils on a 26-24 margin.

The game ebbed and flowed throughout, helped by the pragmatic officiating of Richie English. Exiles learned early on that it was not going to be as soft an affair as in recent encounters, despite Liam Fitzpatrick’s try which he also converted. Martin Lyons opened the scoring for the President’s men and evergreen Paul Byrne notched their second. Ger Fallon converted one try as the President’s selection led 12-7 at half-time.

Darragh Lennon showed a sprightly step to scoot in for a try which he nonchalantly converted to put the Exiles ahead before James Tormey showed fine finishing to touchdown for a try for the challengers. David Egan retorted for the holders with a try which Lennon also converted for a 21-17 lead in favour of the Exiles, for whom Adam Kennedy flew in all the way from Perth (although his folks think he came home for a seasonal family visit!). The President’s XV regained the lead with the score of the match. Brendan Fagan broke from his own half and left the Exiles cover in tatters for a smashing try which Fallon converted. 24-21 to the President’s men with time running out.

However, in the fading light and helped by a strengthening breeze, Exiles made one final sally forward with Egan squeezing in at the left corner for the decisive score after a most enjoyable joust. The losers had some consolation in Sean Byrne being named ‘Man of the Match’. However, Mark Jackson (with nuptials on the horizon and, consequently, probably playing in his fifteenth but last Exiles Cup match!) took the major accolade when he was presented with magnificent trophy by Cian Moran.

EXILES SELECTION:-  M.Donohoe; J.F.Seery, L.Fitzpatrick, A.Kennedy, C.Egan; N.So, K.McKiernan; B.Campbell, D.Egan, M.Jackson (captain); D.Lennon, E.Brady; D.Kelly, E.Egan and D.Maguire.

BUCCANEERS PRESIDENT’S XV:-  M.Tormey; L.Didebashvili, K.Naughton, B.Walsh, J.Donnellan; P.Byrne, G.Fallon; T.Thompson, K.Grehan, L.Doran; J.Tormey, S.Byrne; M.Lyons, R.Byrne and B.Fagan.

Referee:- Richie English.



Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore