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AIB Cup: ‘Tarf Through To Semi-Finals For The First Time

AIB Cup: ‘Tarf Through To Semi-Finals For The First Time

Garryowen’s hopes of retaining the AIB League and Cup trophies were dashed by a slick Clontarf outfit at Castle Avenue on Saturday evening.

2007/08 AIB CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Saturday, February 2

CLONTARF 23 GARRYOWEN 11, Castle Avenue

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Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Penalty try, Phil Howard; Cons: Ian Keatley 2; Pens: Ian Keatley 3
Garryowen: Try; Gerry Hurley; Pens: Conor Kilroy 2

This cup quarter-final swung in Tarf’s favour in the 60th-minute when right winger Phil Howard ran in a stunning intercept try from 80 metres out.

Garryowen trailed by 16-6 at half-time after ‘Tarf out-half Ian Keatley kicked three penalties and converted a late penalty try.

A 65th-minute try from Munster scrum half Gerry Hurley got Garryowen back within range but the hosts held firm to make the last-four for the first time in their history.

Having lost their last three home fixtures against Garryowen, the north Dubliners were suitably pumped up for today’s quarter-final against their top flight rivals.

This was a meeting between AIB League Division One’s third and fourth-placed sides and the quality was high throughout, particularly that of the defensive variety.

Both sides had to live off penalty kicks until ‘Tarf gained their penalty try in the third-minute of first half injury-time.

Keatley, last season’s Ireland Under-20 out-half, landed a hat-trick of place-kicks in reply to two early efforts from Garryowen full-back Conor Kilroy.

But successive infringements from the visitors’ pack led to referee Olan Trevor awarded ‘Tarf their penalty try which Keatley comfortably converted to push his side ten points clear.

28-15 winners at this venue in last season’s Division One semi-final, Garryowen were rocked when just as they pressed for a try of their own, they leaked a try to Howard.

He picked up the ball almost on his own try-line and sped clear into space, beating a couple of defenders, and the former Dublin University clubman had enough pace to beat the cover on a thrilling break forward.

Keatley converted and along with Clontarf’s rock-solid defence, their half-backs were crucial in guiding them to this win.

Keatley and Paul O’Donohoe starred throughout and showed presence beyond their years when ‘Tarf had two players in the sin-bin – Martin Garvey saw yellow early on and team captain Simon Crawford was sin-binned just before the finish.

Garryowen’s Damien Varley was also binned in the first half but it had little effect on the overall play and despite Hurley’s fine try, which saw him slip through a tackle and dash over from 15 metres out, the cup holders could not close the gap any further.