1st XV lose 21-28 to Clonmel

Instonians go down fighting in fiercely competitive Round Robin AIL promotion game against Clonmel 
Instonians 21- Carrickfergus 28 
Date: 2-30 pm Saturday, 13 April 2019 
Venue: Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast 
Fixture: Round Robin playoff for promotion to AIL 
Conditions: Bright sunny but cold day with strong wind blowing from the South East. 

This was a game that Instonians had to win to maintain any further interest in this season’s playoffs for promotion to the AIL.

It was a fiercely contested and exciting game but was marred when Instonian out half Richard McCarthy received a controversial red card only about 15 minutes into the game. This meant that Instonians had to battle on with 14 players against a big, physical and “streetwise” Clonmel pack. In the end it proved too much in spite of them still holding a slender lead with less than 15 minutes to go. 

The main change in the starting line-up from last week’s successful team against Connemara was Tom Matthews coming in for injured James Martin and Lewis McNamara dropping back to number 8.

Fit again Neil Saulters came on to the bench to replace Tom. 

Instonians kicked off with the wind at their backs. In truth they did not start very well. They held the ball well and enjoyed territory in the opposition half but lost their first line out throw and were then penalised at the first scrum. They found it difficult to make much headway against a very resolute Clonmel defence. They were then turned over at their first lineout maul inside the Clonmel 22 and lost another line out throw on half way. This gave Clonmel their first opportunity to attack, They moved the ball wide and then manufactured a clean break up the middle. Instonians scrambling defence did very well to stop a score in the corner and then to win a penalty for “not releasing” under their own posts as Clonmel bombarded the line with a series of forward drives. 

Instonians, uncharacteristically, messed up the maul from the ensuing line out on their 22. They were pulled up for an accidental offside to give Clonmel their first attacking scrum. From this they attacked hard up the middle and then disaster struck when out half Richard McCarthy was penalised for a high tackle in midfield in front of the posts. Instonians supporters gasped in disbelief when the referee showed him a red card. This decision meant that Instonians were going to have to spend more than three quarters of the game a man down. Ultimately this decision, almost certainly, cost them the game. But they did not give up without a fight and a very brave display against the odds. 

Clonmel kicked the simple penalty to go 3 points up. Instonians were also struggling on the injury front when first Lewis McNamara went down with an ankle knock and then captain Davey Scott wrenched a shoulder which caused him a lot of problems until he was ultimately replaced by Wayne Kelly later in the game. It was no surprise when Clonmel came back into the Instonian half and forced a penalty at the scrum about 30 metres out. This led to another successful shot at goal for them to go 0-6 as we approached the half hour mark. 

Instonians did well to win back the restart and hold the ball through the phases. They were rewarded when Clonmel infringed at the breakdown. Scrum half Paul Marshall took a quick tap from 15 metres out and made a lot of ground. Instonians now started battering the opposition line and came close on several occasions with a series or powerful drives. Eventually Clonmel infringed again under their posts. This time the home side decided to kick at goal and take the 3 points on offer.  

Back at 3-6 Instonians appeared to have regained a lot of energy and composure and were the stronger side for the remainder of the half. An excellent kick took play down to the Clonmel 5 metre line. Although Clonmel won the line out the best they could do was kick clear for an Instonian line out just outside the 22. From the ensuing maul Instonians started to mount a lot of pressure. Play was taken up to the Clonmel line. The battering of the line started to soften up the Clonmel defence. Then suddenly centre Matt Kilpatrick was running with space in midfield. His speed and clever footwork took him through the cover for an excellent try behind the posts. Davey Scott’s conversion put Instonians ahead 10-6 for the first time. Moments later the half time whistle sounded. 
It was clear that facing the stiff wind and with 14 players Instonians would be looking at an uphill task in the second period. The task they faced soon became apparent when Clonmel were on the scoreboard again within 5 minutes with an unconverted try. This followed an infringement 40 metres out. Clonmel moved the ball wide from the line out and used their numerical advantage in mid-field to burst clear and score to go 10-11 up. 

Instonians were far from done and came battling back. First winger Donal Maloney did well not to be forced into touch and pass infield to full back Bradley McNamara who made a super break in the narrowest of spaces. Clonmel were penalised at the breakdown. Paul Marshall tapped again and when Clonmel failed to retreat the referee marched them back a further 10 metres. This time from 26 metres Instonians decided to go for goal. Wayne Kelly, who by this time had replaced injured David Scott, calmly stepped forward and slotted the goal to put his side ahead again at 13-11 with 54 minutes gone. 

Better was to follow a few minutes later. Instonians were now playing their best rugby of the game and were really putting Clonmel under pressure as they launched wave after wave of attack that took them up to the Clonmel 22. Number 8 Lewis McNamara was having a great time with ball in hand but he was ably assisted by fellow back rowers Massimo Kiri Kiri and Paddy Bell. Big second row Sean Shuttleworth was also proving difficult to stop and set some good front foot ball to allow the backs to thrive and find space. A high tackle by Clonmel earned Instonians another kick at goal – but no further sanction from the referee for either high tackling or persistent infringement. Wayne Kelly held his nerve again and put the ball between the posts to put his side 16-11 up on 56 minutes. 
Although Instonians fielded the restart they were penalised at the breakdown only 30 metres out and in front of the posts. Clonmel accepted the gift and kicked the goal to pull back to 16-14 with 57 minutes on the clock. 

Back came Instonians. They launched another series of attacks with good interplay between forwards and backs. At this stage there was a sense that in spite of their one man advantage it was Clonmel who were tiring. But then Instonians were penalised on the Clonmel 22 for not releasing at the tackle. This gave Clonmel the break they needed; they kicked for a line out on half way and then launched a clean break up the middle from their number 13 again. He was able to exploit the gap in the Instonians mid-field defence. Just as it looked like he was going to score from a long run in full-back Bradley McNamara caught him and pulled him down just short of the line. The referee adjudged that the tackle was high. He awarded a penalty try and showed Bradley a yellow card. Instonians were now down to 13 men with about 14 minutes left. Clonmel were crucially now 16-21 up. 

First Instonians kicked straight out at the restart to give Clonmel a scrum put in on half way.  Clonmel could not take advantage but at the next scrum they were awarded a crucial penalty. They kicked for the corner, won a penalty at the ensuing maul and soon had Instonians marching back as they added numbers to the maul close to the line. It was no surprise to see them break free and go over for a simple converted try. At 16-28 it was really game over with about 6 minutes left. 

To their credit, when restored to 14 men, Instonians came back fighting. They never gave up. After struggling for much of the game they were now dominating Clonmel in the final scrums and marching them back at will. This gave them a lot of ball and territory. Another penalty at the scrum and they were bashing away at Clonmel again with some great ball retention and handling. Lewis McNamara crashed through and threw a lovely off-load to supporting flanker Massimo Kiri Kiri who raced in unopposed for his side’s second try. A quick drop kick  conversion failed in a desperate effort to force Clonmel to restart. But the referee decided that he had seen enough and blew for no-side. 

It had been a brave display, played against the odds for most of the game. Quite a few players hobbled off at the end.

Ultimately the two cards for indiscipline were to prove the deciding factors. Overall it has been a hard but rewarding season. The team has much to be proud about and can now enjoy a well-earned rest. Our best wishes go to Clonmel in their effort to earn promotion to the AIL. 

Team list: Instonians 
15. Bradley McNamara 
14. Donal Moloney 
13. Matt Kilpatrick 
12. David Scott © 
11. David McCarthy 
10. Richard McCarthy 
9. Paul Marshall 
8. Lewis McNamara 
7. Paddy Bell 
6. Massimo Kiri Kiri 
5. Sean Shuttleworth 
4. Tom Matthews 
3. Alan Whitten 
2. Conor Gallagher 
1. Alan Whitten 

16. Neil Saulters 
17. Josh Cregan 
18. Ross O’Donnell 
19. Wayne Kelly 
20. Colm Cregan








Rest of the season


1st XV

2nd XV

3rd XV

20th Apr


Easter - L - Ballymoney 2 (A) Postponed due to frozen pitches


22nd Apr (Mon)

Easter Mon Instonians U20s Tournament

Easter Mon Instonians U20s Tournament

Easter Mon Instonians U20s Tournament



Upcoming Key events (more details to follow)




Fri 17th May

2019 Rugby Club Centenary Gala Ball


? May – Rugby Club AGM



Sat 1st June

Ben Davis Foundation Garden Party

? June – Instonians Club AGM