Monivea 21 -13 Loughrea

A brace of second-half tries from Vinny Lally helped Monivea to Junior Plate victory in the Sportsground as the 2017 Junior Cup champions recovered from an early 10-point deficit to outlast a gutsy Loughrea.

Loughrea were seeking their first-ever win in this competition, but they began the game as underdogs against a team playing two full divisions above them in the Connacht Junior Leagues. Monivea are mid-table in J1A while Loughrea ply their trade in J1C.

But nobody watching the first half here could have guessed they were looking at teams from two leagues apart. Loughrea were right up at the pitch of the game from the very start and took the lead after just three minutes when winger Conor Brown intercepted a pass from Seamus Fahy and streaked clear to score beneath the sticks.

Loughrea captain Micheal Martyn kicked the conversion and then found the target again ten minutes later, slotting a penalty after a high tackle to make it 10-nil.

Monivea had started sluggishly but they eventually got into the game with their opening try on 20 minutes.  A spell of pressure on the Loughrea line ended with out-half Fahy spinning the ball wide left to Brian McDonnell, who dived over to halve the deficit.

Monivea’s discipline, especially inside their own ’22, was leaving plenty to be desired and another infringement at the ruck allowed Martyn to kick another three points for Loughrea. The captain would also miss two kickable chances before the end of the first half, however, and those dropped points would come back to haunt Loughrea before the end.

Gerry O’Connor kicked a straightforward penalty to trim Monivea’s arrears on the stroke of half-time and they went in at the break trailing 13-8. They wiped out the deficit completely nine minutes into the second period as the big lock Lally dove over in the corner.

Monivea were camped in the Loughrea half by this point and they took the lead for the first time on 56 minutes as Loughrea were pinged for not releasing and O’Connor swept over the penalty.

Loughrea were feeling the effects of their first-half efforts as they struggled to make any inroads into Monivea territory and Lally was over again five minutes before the finish, diving across in the right corner to wrap up a hard-fought eight-point win for Monivea.

The winners’ class and pedigree told in the end but only after an almighty battle from Loughrea. Monivea captain Steven Joyce graciously acknowledged as much in his acceptance speech before he lifted the Connacht Plate on behalf of his side.

LOUGHREA: Ronan Kelly, Michael Hannon, John Kelly, Raymond Cullinane, Conor Brown, Micheal Martyn, Daniel Murray; Willie Kelly, Daniel Barrett, Chris McDermott, Seamus Clancy, Colm Maher, Fergal Broderick, Artjoms Sitars, Gavin Dolan.

Replacements: Conor Burke, Francis Mitchell, Aidan Duane, Declan Larkin, Tony Keary.

MONIVEA: Enda Hogan, Kevin Divilly, Coleman Maher, Matthew Mannion, Brian McDonald, Seamus Fahy, Gerard O’Connor; Padraig Mannion, Gerard Fahy, Gerard Fitzmaurice, Keith Lyons, Gerard Ward, Kevin King, Stephen Joyce, Jack Burke.

Replacements: Adrian Divilly, Fergus Killarney, Mark Flaherty, Vinny Lally, Brian McDonagh.

REF: Cian de Buitlear

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