Clontarf added the scalp of the Barbarians to their maiden Ulster Bank League crown, winning out on a 43-42 scoreline after a memorable Danske Bank Challenge match at Castle Avenue to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf.
DANSKE BANK CHALLENGE MATCH: Wednesday, April 23
CLONTARF 43 BARBARIANS 42, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Max McFarland 2, Darragh Fitzpatrick, Anthony Ryan, Michael McGrath 3; Cons: David Joyce 4
Barbarians: Tries: Haydn Pugh, Bryan Rennie 2, Charlie Butterworth, Ritchie McMaster, Tom Biggs; Cons: Ceri Sweeney 6
The newly-crowned Division 1A champions continued where they off against Ballynahinch last Saturday, scoring some thrilling tries in a game that was refereed by one of the world's leading match officials, Nigel Owens from Wales.
Bright sunshine and a passionate home crowd, who were entertained beforehand by the Artane Boys Band and a parachutist who delivered the match ball, welcomed both teams to the pitch.
Clontarf touched down inside two minutes as winger Max McFarland was freed up to score in the left corner, the first of nine tries in a first half full of flair and running rugby.
The Barbarians, coached by Lansdowne and the Ireland Under-20s' Mike Ruddock, edged into a 7-5 lead after a well-executed maul led to second row Haydn Pugh touching down.
Andy Wood's home side hit back with two tries on the bounce, the first being finished by full-back Darragh Fitzpatrick after a tremendous attack that originated in the Clontarf 22 and influential back rower Anthony Ryan followed him over the whitewash.
The Barbarians closed the gap back to 17-14 thanks to a seven-pointer from replacement Bryan Rennie, but up stepped the third member of 'Tarf's back-three, Michael McGrath, with a memorable brace of scores.
McGrath's hard running and finishing power, which made him a marked man throughout this season's Ulster Bank League, were in evidence as he tore through the Barbarians defence for two tries in the space of a minute.
Clontarf's sudden 31-14 advantage was pared back to just three points by half-time though, as Lansdowne flanker Charlie Butterworth and Rennie scored a try apiece approaching the break.
Wood's charges turned to their two lightning quick wingers to keep them on track early in the second period, with McGrath completing his hat-trick and the equally elusive McFarland claiming his second try of the evening.
Ritchie McMaster from Queen's University, who was sprung from the bench, ran in the Baa Baas' fifth try and they added a sixth in injury-time through right winger Tom Biggs.
Ceri Sweeney, the 35-times capped Wales international, landed all six conversions but the visitors still finished a point behind buoyant 'Tarf who became the first Irish club to beat the Baa Baas since Old Wesley's 37-36 win back in 1991.
Their Twitter hashtag proudly proclaims it as 'the Year of the Bull' and these are certainly heady times for Clontarf FC, with the players receiving their league winners' medals after the historic encounter. A night and week they will never forget.
Speaking afterwards, Clontarf head coach Andy Wood said: "It was a good occasion, you can see by the score there.
"It was a true Barbarian style of play, and I think our lads matched them to be honest. We played some seriously good rugby out there."
CLONTARF: Darragh Fitzpatrick; Michael McGrath, Killian Lett, Evan Ryan, Max McFarland; David Joyce, Sam Cronin; Ian Hirst, Cian Culleton, Royce Burke Flynn, Ben Reilly (capt), Tom Byrne, Karl Moran, Adrian Darcy, Anthony Ryan.
Replacements used: Timmy McCoy for Fitzpatrick (31 mins), Conor O'Keeffe for Byrne (h-t), Peter du Toit for Cronin (40), David Hegarty for Hirst (43), Martin Garvey for Ryan (53), Conor Keegan for McGrath (55), Cathal O'Flynn for Culleton (59), Keith Donoghue for Hegarty (61), Liam Murphy for Darcy (66).
BARBARIANS: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk); Tom Biggs (Bath), Jason Shoemark (Exeter), Tom Cheeseman (Esher), Philip O'Dwyer (Old Belvedere); Ceri Sweeney (Exeter/Wales), James Grindal (Bristol); Lorne Ward (Rosslyn Park), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Ben Evans (Moseley/Wales) (capt), Mike Powell (Moseley), Haydn Pugh (Carmarthen Quins), Dean Schofield (Worcester/England), Charlie Butterworth (Lansdowne), William Ryan (Cork Constitution).
Replacements used: Bryan Rennie (Bristol) for Harkness (18 mins), Colm McMahon (St. Mary's College) for Ward, Ryan de la Harpe (Fylde/Namibia) for Grindal (both half-time), Ritchie McMaster (Queen's University) for O'Dwyer (41), Mark McCraith (Bedford Blues) for Schofield (46), Peter Synnott (Esher) for Butterworth, Andrew Jones (Llandovery) for Evans (both 53).
Four mouth-watering Dublin derbies and a super-charged all-Munster tie make up the fixtures in Ulster Bank League Division 1A tomorrow. The meeting of Clontarf and Young Munster at Castle Avenue could be the match of the day.
The top four clubs and the bottom four are all in direct opposition in Division 1B this weekend, with Buccaneers needing just one more win to clinch the title and promotion, and fellow strugglers Galwegians and Dolphin set for a real dogfight in Glenina.
Number 8 Michael Noone helped himself to a hat-trick of tries at Anglesea Road as Clontarf maintained their push for the Ulster Bank League Division 1A play-offs and Old Belvedere fell to the bottom of the table.
25 unanswered first half points put Old Belvedere on their way to a 44-14 Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final victory over Ballynahinch at Anglesea Road. 'Belvo will meet defending champions Cork Constitution in the final at the end of April.
The sun shone on Co. Carlow Rugby Club last Sunday as the Aviva Mini Rugby Festival rolled into town. It was a chance for the hundreds of boys and girls to enjoy a day of fantastic rugby and to tell us who their favourite rugby players are.
The Aviva Mini Rugby Festival visited UL Bohemians last Saturday and it was fun-filled day for the hundreds of boys and girls taking part. There was also a special guest appearance from Ireland Women's captain and UL Bohs favourite Niamh Briggs.
Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience and Products, Ulster Bank, talks about another successful Ulster Bank League Awards night which saw 14 individual awards presented to players, coaches and PROs from across the island.
Cork Constitution lock Conor Kindregan was voted the Ulster Bank League Division 1A Player of the Year, picking up the honour from Joe Schmidt at this week's Ulster Bank League Awards in the Aviva Stadium.
Ahead of the the Ulster Bank League Division 1A final, we spoke to Blayney Russell of Clontarf and Peter Good of Cork Constitution about the big match and how the two clubs have fared this season at every level.
Ben Reilly wants his Clontarf side to show the kind of form that put them top of the league this season but he knows that Cork Con will offer a serious physical challenge in the Ulster Bank League final in Sunday. Tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie.
Cork Constitution captain James Ryan is aiming for a league and cup double if his side can unpick the Clontarf defence in the Ulster Bank League final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. We spoke to him about the road to the final and Con's momentum. Tickets for the match are available from ticketmaster.ie.
On a day that saw all four seasons in one, the girls from Sacred Heart in Tullamore made history by winning the first ever All-Ireland GX7s tournament at the Aviva Stadium. Check out some of the action from the day as 16 teams got their first taste of playing at the home of Irish Rugby.
We turn the spotlight on Young Munster as they bid to go one step further than last year and qualify for the upcoming Ulster Bank League final. Irish Rugby TV spoke to Ger Slattery and Darragh O'Sullivan ahead of Saturday's Division 1A semi-final trip to Cork Constitution.
Highlights of a very exciting day of Women's club rugby action at Anglesea Road as Shield winners Railway Union, Plate winners St. Mary's and Cup champions Galwegians all enjoyed All-Ireland title success.
Highlights from Cork Constitution's two-try 15-13 victory over dethroned Division 1A champions Lansdowne in the Ulster Bank League. The Leesiders, who are third in the table, still have a shot at a home semi-final.