18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
FIRST ROUND RESULTS -
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 10 COUNTY CARLOW 29, College Park
CONNEMARA 14 BARNHALL 17, Monastery Field
In glorious weather conditions more akin to summer rugby than an autumn encounter, AIB League Division Three side County Carlow upset the form book by advancing to the second round of the AIB Cup.
This game was certainly worthy of the cliched tag of 'a game of two halves' as the students simply dominated the opening 40 minutes, yet only had a try to show for their excellent work-rate in the opening half.
In contrast, the visitors, buoyed by the return from the sin-bin of Tommy Ratahi, turned on the style on the restart to run out worthy winners.
Trinity got off to the perfect start. Following a sustained period of early pressure, they were rewarded in the sixth minute, when flanker Conor McGinn crashed over the line.
It followed some impressive build-up play by Harry Murphy and Peter Finnegan, who fed the ball to the inrushing McGinn.
However, Murphy failed to pop over the resulting conversion. Carlow then went on the offensive, with Ratahi certainly their player of the match.
Place-kicker Greg Jacob converted a penalty within four minutes to cut the gap to two points, but neither side could add to their tally over the remaining 30 minutes to leave the score at 5-3 in Dublin University's favour at half-time.
A yellow card for Ratahi came in the final minutes of the half but the Carlow flanker made amends within two minutes of the restart when he powered over for the first of four second half tries for his side.
Cian Moore (46 minutes), Shannon Brown (66) and Richard Whyte (73) all followed up with tries, while Jacob kicked three conversions.
A 54th-minute try from out-half Murphy was all the hosts could muster in the second half as a determined Carlow team battled until the finish.
Jacob sustained a late injury which left Carlow playing the closing five minutes of the game, plus three minutes of injury-time, with just 14 players.
But their lead was a comfortable one and their reward for this comeback win is a November clash with Naas or Ballynahinch, who face off at Forenaughts next weekend.
Meanwhile, Barnhall travelled west to face Connemara for the first of two competitive meetings this season, with the sides also due to clash in AIB League Division Three.
Both teams gave full value for money and did not hold back in this entertaining encounter at Monastery Field. The hosts were a little under-strength for this outing but provided a very stiff test for the visitors from County Kildare.
From the kick-off, both sides were quite inventive and it was clear even during the early stages that there was not going to be a runaway victory for either side.
Barnhall had the better of the early forward encounters and the back-line found its rhythm midway through the first half. After a series of attacks, Leo Quinn found himself with little to do to cross for the first try of the game.
The follow-up conversion and a subsequent penalty from Quinn was the sum total of Barnhall's first half scoring.
Connemara were not lagging for long as those Barnhall scores were quickly followed by a well-taken try by Kevin Ward, which Vinnie Vester converted. That left the Galway men just 10-7 behind at the break.
Barnhall had much the better restart and looked dangerous in midfield with good ball-carrying also from their back rowers, who dominated the early passages of play in the third quarter.
The Parsonstown outfit stretched their lead to 17-7 with a neat try from Anthony Nagle and Quinn again added the extras.
Connemara pushed hard but found little by way of openings in a stout Barnhall defence throughout most of the second half.
With about eight minutes remaining, the hometown support had much to shout about when Frank Leonard nipped in for an impressive try which Vester converted.
But Barnhall clung on to their 17-14 advantage to advance to a second round meeting with either Nenagh Ormond or Lansdowne on November 1.
Connemara will rue earlier missed opportunities and when back at full strength, they will represent formidable opposition for Barnhall in the league.