CI left scoreless at Enniscorthy
CI travelled down to Wexford on Friday night ahead of the much anticipated All Ireland Junior Cup clash against Enniscorthy.
Despite the Wexford side having reached the final of the same competition last year, there was a good level of optimism amongst CI supporters and independent pundits alike, that an away win could be on the cards.
The weather that was experienced during the warm up and the first half of this game can only be described as horrendous and sent the vast majority of supporters sheltering in cars and inside the Enniscorthy club house.
CI lost the coin toss and started the game playing head on into a strong wind and driving rain.
The home side played the conditions well in the opening stages using the wind to pen CI back in their own half. Good work by the Belfast side in carrying the ball through multiple phases into the Enniscorthy 22, was quickly undone by a 70m clearance kick. During this time CI turned down a couple of penalty chances at goal that they were later to regret.
Midway through the first half a misjudgement in the CI defensive line created an overlap on the right wing which was well finished by the home side for the first points of the day. Unnecessary CI penalties also served to maintain the pressure which could not be alleviated by the boot due to the strong gale. One of these penalties was converted by Enniscorthy for a 10-0 lead.
The conditions and visibility were such that pressure on the CI 5m line saw Robin Brown sin-binned for rushing a tap penalty before the tap.
Towards the end of the half a calamity of CI errors saw the ball hacked through by the home attack. The referee judged that the Enniscorthy player had just won the resulting chase and achieved the necessary downward pressure in the dead ball area; much to the consternation of the CI coaches who were better positioned behind the posts.
This try gave the home side a sizeable 15-0 lead at halftime.
Half time: Enniscorthy 15 CIYMS 0
CI took the unusual option of regathering in the changing rooms and despite turning round in deficit at halftime, the traveling side shared an acknowledgement that the conditions could at least account for a proportion of this score.
CI started brighter at the beginning of the second half and completed a series of structured phases for the first time in the game. The weather had greatly improved at this point and was now offering little advantage to the Ulster side.
CI were awarded a penalty near the touch line and kicked to corner with a 5m scrum being awarded shortly after the lineout. The CI scrum which had been functioning fairly well up to this point now went up a gear in a surge towards the line. However, the difficult conditions at the base resulted in the ball being held up. Enniscorthy took this opportunity to change the front row personnel and despite the scrum being reset twice, a stalemate ensued and the ball was eventually cleared.
CI appeared to tire at this point both physically and mentally and despite good carries by McReynolds, Hackney and Willis throughout, the team lacked the impetus to break down an organised Enniscorthy defence.
In fact, it was the home side who scored next through their outhalf converting a penalty, before they rounded off with a try by their right winger which was converted for a 25-0 victory.
Full time: Enniscorthy 25 CIYMS 0
Credit to the home side for their fine hospitality and how they played solidly throughout the 80 mins, with a smarter and more disciplined game in the difficult conditions.
CI were left to rue poor individual decision making during and before this game with a below par performance and will feel that they squandered this hard-earned opportunity.
The focus now returns to maintaining the positive start to the league campaign and bouncing back against a difficult Dromore side this weekend.