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AIB League: Garryowen Hold Onto Play-Off Ambitions

AIB League: Garryowen Hold Onto Play-Off Ambitions

Garryowen are still battling for honours on two fronts after gaining a hard-fought 12-10 AIB League win over Clontarf at Castle Avenue on Saturday.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, April 7

CLONTARF 10 GARRYOWEN 12, Castle Avenue

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Scorers: Clontarf: Try: Daragh O’Shea; Con: Conal Keane; Pen: Conal Keane
Garryowen: Pens: Conor Kilroy 4

AIB Cup finalists Garryowen have moved themselves onto 43 points in the table, with fourth-placed Shannon just ahead of them on scoring difference.

Three Conor Kilroy penalties saw Garryowen lead 9-7 at half-time, with Clontarf’s 25th-minute try ironically coming from a Kilroy mistake.

He failed to hold onto a missed penalty attempt from Conal Keane and ‘Tarf centre Daragh O’Shea was on hand to score. But Keane and Kilroy swapped further penalties as the visitors held on for a precious win.

Garryowen were missing injured Munster out-half Eoghan Hickey, with Alan Kingsley standing in for him alongside Gerry Hurley. ‘Tarf had some early lineout problems, with Johnny Wickham struggling to find his men out of touch, and the visitors should have capitalised by scoring the opening try.

A leg-pumping bust forward by lock Ed Mackey got them within range and when the ball was spread out to the right, captain Paul Neville should have made use of an overlap but he chose to go it alone and the ‘Tarf cover swarmed over him.

That spell of pressure did yield a tenth-minute penalty for Garryowen and full-back Kilroy obliged with an well-hit right-sided kick which flew straight through the uprights.

Showing that distance was no problem either, Kilroy thumped over his second penalty of the afternoon, four minutes later, from just inside his own half.

However, Kilroy’s day soured when he tried to field a wayward penalty attempt from Keane behind his own posts, but the Garryowen number 15 misjudged it and the ball bobbled out of grasp. The alert O’Shea, who did excellently to follow up on the kick, was on hand to steal and the ball and ground it for an opportunistic try.

Keane added the extras but in a game that was mainly thrashed out in the forwards, a third Kilroy kick in injury-time saw Paul Cunningham’s side go in at the break with a 9-7 buffer.

With game-breakers Hurley and Fiach O’Loughlin, who used to play for Garryowen’s great rivals Shannon, being kept quiet, the packs continued to dispute every inch of territory.

Kilroy nudged Garryowen 12-7 ahead before Keane replied with a 35-metre penalty in the 62nd-minute, setting up a tension-filled finale.

It was in a frantic final ten minutes that Garryowen doggedly managed to hold onto that lead and see out their fourth win in eight games on the road this season.

‘Tarf almost got over for a try in the 72nd-minute when a Matt Nethery pass had O’Shea scampering towards the line but a great tackle from Ciaran O’Boyle halted the attack just metres out and the visitors regrouped.

Territory was all ‘Tarf’s in the closing stages but the north Dubliners struggled to make a dent on the scoreboard. Out-half Peter O’Brien sent a drop goal to the right of the posts and Keane missed a penalty as Garryowen, with some defiant defending, took the spoils.

DUNGANNON 17 ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 17, Stevenson Park

Scorers: Dungannon: Tries: Penalty try, Mark Scott, Stuart Lamb; Con: Richard McCarter
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Jonathan Sexton, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: Jonathan Sexton, Barry Lynn; Pen: Jonathan Sexton

Dungannon are out of the running for a place in the play-offs after St. Mary’s College stole in for a 17-17 draw at Stevenson Park.

Despite losing talismanic out-half Jonathan Sexton to the sin-bin, Mary’s cut through for a late try from scrum half Matt D’Arcy.

Captain Barry Lynn, who has only recently come back from an Achilles injury, stepped into Sexton’s shoes and tapping over the levelling conversion.

A penalty try had Dungannon leading 7-3 at half-time, and tries from Mark Scott and Stuart Lamb had looked like maintaining their fight for a top four finish.

LANSDOWNE 23 DOLPHIN 17, Lansdowne Road back pitch

Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Gavin O’Meara, Alan McCormack; Cons: Robbie Dolan 2; Pens: Robbie Dolan, Donal Crotty 2
Dolphin: Tries: Donnchadha Murphy, Eric Moloney; Cons: Barry Keeshan 2; Pen: Barry Keeshan

Despite falling to their fourth straight league defeat, 23-17 to Lansdowne, an injury-time try from back rower Donnchadha Murphy was enough to secure a losing bonus point and Dolphin’s Division One status for next season.

Hosts Lansdowne looked out of sight at they led 17-3 at half-time, thanks to converted tries from hooker Gavin O’Meara and full-back Alan McCormack.

Dolphin’s hopes were not helped when they had prop Fergus Gately sin-binned but their maul kept them competitive.

Centre Eric Moloney burst over for a 61st-minute try and four minutes into injury, Murphy crowned his 120th league appearance for Dolphin with a crucial score.

Lansdowne were on top for long periods of this game but could not put the Corkmen to the sword. O’Meara’s 22nd-minute try, off a lineout move, put the headquarters side on their way to only their second win in their last six league matches.

Lansdowne strung together a neat back line move, with Robbie Dolan and Greg Stafford to the fore in it, to send the supporting McCormack in for his score in the 31st-minute.

Dolan, who was playing at inside centre instead of full-back, converted both tries and tagged on a penalty, cancelling out an earlier effort from Dolphin out-half Barry Keeshan.

Dolphin lifted their game for the second half, and they were aided when Lansdowne loosehead John Lyne was sin-binned for committing a ruck offence.

Lansdowne out-half Donal Crotty did fire the hosts further ahead, rocketing over a 47th-minute penalty, but Moloney’s sixth try of the campaign, which came 14 minutes later, got Dolphin back within striking range.

Former Trinity player Crotty landed his second penalty, three minutes from time, but Dolphin, showing immense strength up front, burst forward in injury-time to put Murphy, who made his Dolphin debut back in 1999, over. Keeshan’s conversion guaranteed the Leesiders’ place in the top flight for next season.

UL BOHEMIANS 29 GALWEGIANS 7, Annacotty

Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Martin McPhail 2, Ian Hanly, Fergal Lawler; Cons: Ben Martin 3; Pen: Ben Martin
Galwegians: Try: Anthony Barrett; Con: Nick Wakely

UL Bohemians winger Martin McPhail got one over on his old club Galwegians as he bagged two tries in a bonus point win at Annacotty.

McPhail, Division One’s top try scorer, took his season’s tally to 11 as Bohs moved ahead of Clontarf into second place in the table.

Winger Ian Hanly and scrum half Fergal Lawler notched Bohs’ other tries, with Australian number 10 Ben Martin kicking three conversions and a penalty.

A breakaway try from centre Anthony Barrett got ‘Wegians back in the hunt after McPhail had opened the scoring. The Limerick men led 7-0 at half-time.