12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Not only did St. Mary's beat them, but also they earned a well-deserved bonus point and the win has moved them into top spot in AIB League Division 1A, one point ahead of Cork Con, although the Leesiders have a game in hand.
Speaking afterwards to IrishRugby.ie, St. Mary's director of rugby Peter Smyth emphasised the importance of the victory.
"Today just meant so much for us. Everyone has put in so much and worked so hard that, you know, losing today would have taken things out of our hands and the lads felt that wasn't an option," he said.
"But I'm just delighted and hopefully we have one foot in that semi-final."
Commenting on Cork Con, Smyth, the former Leinster hooker, was quick to praise their quality.
"They're a class side. We still think they're the best team in the country. They were 24-6 down at one stage but I felt they were always going to come back and score a try."
Having beaten Old Belvedere in the Leinster Senior League Cup final and coming into Saturday's match on the back of two big wins over Blackrock College and UL Bohemians, Smyth explained that momentum was a big factor in St. Mary's recent form.
"Our momentum was huge because at the end of January, everyone was looking at each other and we didn't know where to go," he admitted.
"Luckily enough we won the Leinster Senior Cup and that gave the club and all the players a big boost.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter how much credit you give them, they sometimes have to win a bit of silverware to believe it."
St. Mary's have had some stand-out performers throughout the season and Saturday was no different.
"Darragh Fanning stepped up, Robin Copeland stepped up, Hugh Hogan, the captain, played outstandingly for us.
"And of course, Mark Sexton was outstanding too. But, in fairness, to a man they were all super," added Smyth.
Cork Constitution coach Brian Walsh made no bones about St. Mary's worth as victors.
"There's no sour grapes about this, St. Mary's were by far the better team for 50 to 60 minutes," he told IrishRugby.ie.
"I think they're a very, very good side and can play the game in lots of different areas.
"We just needed to get more urgency into our game to a certain extent. We leaked two very soft tries in the first half and were down 14 points and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
"We were deservedly behind for most of the game, it was not until about 17 minutes left that we started to play, keep the ball in hands and we got some level of intensity out of the game.
"We just needed to get scores on the board but we left it too late."
Asked whether the defeat was a wake-up call, Walsh replied: "Absolutely, it is a wake-up call and it's no harm to get it. I mean it would have been an awful game to steal, to be fair.
"We did show a bit of character with the comeback. At one stage, we were 24-6 down. We scored a good try and a penalty try.
"It was a four-point game at the end which was great for us and it was probably to be deserved at that stage," he added.
Despite the loss, Cork Con remain in an excellent position to take one of the three play-off spots on offer in Division 1A.
If they can win their upcoming two matches against UL Bohemians and Dolphin, they will secure first place and a home semi-final.
In their one and only remaining match, St. Mary's have the tough task of overcoming Clontarf who earned an important victory over Shannon on Saturday.
Smyth was well aware of the threat Clontarf pose, adding: "Our record against 'Tarf in the last five or six years is particularly bad.
"They're going to try and finish with a bang against us. We know they're going to come out all guns blazing against us."
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