Garryowen proved too strong for Belfast Harlequins in Saturday’s AIB Cup final, as first half tries from Ciaran O’Boyle and Eugene McGovern set them on their way to a 20-7 victory.
AIB CUP FINAL: Saturday, April 14
GARRYOWEN 20 BELFAST HARLEQUINS 7, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Ciaran O’Boyle, Eugene McGovern; Cons: Eoghan Hickey 2; Pens: Eoghan Hickey 2
Belfast Harlequins: Try: Paul McKenzie; Con: Keith Pyper
Garryowen have kept the AIB Cup in Munster thanks to a measured display in this afternoon’s final against Belfast Harlequins, with Paul Cunningham’s side taking a 20-7 victory.
Following in the footsteps of Cork Constitution, Garryowen deservedly lifted the trophy at Dubarry Park.
Backed by the wind, the Limerick side scored two tries inside the first nine minutes as winger Ciaran O’Boyle and prop Eugene McGovern crossed the whitewash.
The London Irish-bound Eoghan Hickey converted both efforts and kicked two penalties for a 20-0 interval lead.
‘Quins came more into it in the second half but a 70th-minute try for Ulster’s Paul McKenzie served as only a consolation.
Garryowen, 17-0 winners over ‘Quins in the AIB League earlier this season, got off to the best possible start.
With possession secure, they sent left winger O’Boyle, one of five club internationals in the Garryowen side, off on his way to an opportunist score.
A fine serie of phases ended with McGovern barging over, to the right of the posts, for his side’s second try soon after and AIB man of the match Hickey cracked over both conversions.
A brace of penalties from Hickey, who was injured for last week’s league game at Clontarf, gave Garryowen a 20-0 buffer and they were almost out of sight.
Some sterling defence from the Munster Senior Cup winners kept ‘Quins at bay as Andy Ward’s men tried to get themselves back in contention.
They did get over for a try, ten minutes from time, when McKenzie was in support of Mark Kettyle’s smashing break to touch down near the posts. Keith Pyper converted.
‘Quins looked to have got in for a second try just four minutes later. Jonny Lowe made a wonderful break down the right flank and chipped Garryowen full-back Conor Kilroy to seemingly secure a try but it was not allowed and any chance of a grandstand finish quickly evaporated.
Garryowen fully merited the win, and it adds to an already impressive haul of trophies at Dooradoyle this season – the club have collected both the Munster Senior and Junior Cups this season and still stand a chance of making the Division One play-offs in the AIB League.
For ‘Quins, it is back to the grindstone and their attentions now turn to a must-win league clash with UCD next weekend, with both sides looking to nab a win to secure their top flight status.
GARRYOWEN: C Kilroy; A O’Loughlin, K Hartigan, C Doyle, Ciaran O’Boyle; E Hickey, G Hurley; R Brosnan, D Varley, E McGovern, M Melbourne, E Mackey, P Neville (capt), A Kavanagh, P Malone.
Replacements used: J Staunton for McGovern (20 mins), N Melbourne for Staunton (52, blood sub), D Sheehan for Mackey, Cillian O’Boyle for O’Loughlin (both 62), F Quaglia for Doyle, A Kingsley for Hickey (both 77).
BELFAST HARLEQUINS: M Kettyle; J Lowe, P McKenzie, K Pyper, G McLaughlin; N O’Connor, P Marshall; N Conlon, S Philpott, J Andress; G Rourke, L Stevenson; A Ward, C Atkinson (capt), A Gillespie.
Replacements used: R Blake-Knox for O’Connor (20 mins), S Ray for McLaughlin, D Johnston for Gillespie (both 50).
Referee: Alain Rolland (Leinster)