Cork Constitution may have scored three tries in Saturday’s AIB League Division One semi-final victory over Clontarf but Temple Hill boss Brian Walsh was more impressed by the fact that Con kept their own try-line intact.
Clontarf had enough possession to win this semi-final but they could not break down a stubborn Con defence, with the north Dubliners going closest through back rower Martin Garvey just before half-time.
As expected, there was no repeat of the Leesiders’ 36-7 win over Clontarf earlier in the season. After a tightly contested game, Con coach Brian Walsh was pleased to see his side pass a stern test of their title credentials with a 17-3 success.
“People were talking us up during the week, saying Clontarf might as well not turn up for the game, but we didn’t see it that way. We thought it was going to be a very close game, and it was,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“When we beat them earlier in the year I don’t think they were at full strength. They were coming down for this game with nothing to lose.”
‘Tarf began brightly but they could not trouble the scoreboard and it was left to Con winger Cronan Healy to scoop up a loose pass and race over in the corner from all of halfway. Daragh Lyons missed the conversion.
5-0 behind at the break, ‘Tarf cut the gap to just two points when centre Daragh O’Shea stepped up to boot a penalty through the uprights.
However that score seemed to rally Con into action again and after Lyons had kicked a penalty to the corner, prop Tim Ryan muscled his way over for a 57th-minute try.
A try from full-back Richie Lane, ten minutes from time, put the seal on the win which moved Con’s unbeaten league run at Temple Hill to 20 games.
Lane kicked ahead near the ‘Tarf 22 and the ball bounced perfectly for the former Ireland Under-21 international to dot down in the right corner.
“We stood up to some good pressure from Clontarf just before the break – of our own making, maybe. It was absolutely vital that we hung on at that stage. It gave them nothing to hang onto,” Walsh added.
“Clontarf kicked three points in the second half but we withstood everything else. It was our defence which won us the game.”
Clontarf coach Andy Wood, the Kiwi lock who played in the 2003 and 2006 finals, said: “We gave it our all, we gave it everything and we came up short. But I’m delighted with the effort the guys put in. It’s been a super season for us.
“It’s just the tries they got – a couple of intercepts and one just scrambling.
“We couldn’t take advantage of the patterns and the half-breaks we made. But credit to Con, they’re a dogged side and they earned it at the end.”