Young Munster scored one of the most dramatic wins in their history as they staved off relegation on the final day of the season at Belfield.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, April 18
UCD 14 YOUNG MUNSTER 17, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Try: Cian Aherne; Pens: Ian McKinley 3
Young Munster: Try: Stephen Carey; Pens: Mark Connolly 3; Drop: Mike Prendergast
It was heartstopping stuff for the Cookies as, having led 8-3 at half-time, they were pegged back to 14-14 with time running out.
Ian McKinley’s third successful penalty of the game had UCD back on terms and a draw would have been enough for the students to stay up in Division One.
But in a sensational ending, Munster-contracted scrum half Mike Prendergast popped up to thump a long range drop goal towards the posts.
Prendergast’s kick was on target and bounced off the crossbar and over to give the lead back to Young Munster, much to the delight of the travelling support.
Time ran out on a UCD recovery as Munsters held on to finish level in the final table with the students (23 points each), but a better scoring difference means Mike Lynch’s men have survived in their first season back in the top flight.
The Limerick side edged in front on 12 minutes when great work by Matt Costelloe set up a try for his fellow winger Stephen Carey.
The score went unconverted and McKinley, who was on the Leinster bench last night, and Mark Connolly swapped penalties as Munsters took an 8-3 lead into the break.
The hugely impressive McKinley increased his influence on the game, making a 48th-minute break which led to a try for home winger Cian Aherne.
The missed conversion left the game tantalisingly poised at 8-8.
It was a battle of the place-kickers for much of the remainder. Connolly kicked Munsters back in front on 56 minutes, only for McKinley to reply five minutes later.
Connolly clinically converted his third penalty success, following up on solid work from the forwards, only for McKinley to land another levelling penalty on 70 minutes.
But then Prendergast took a leaf out of Paul Warwick’s book, dropping a magnificent goal from close to the halfway line to hand his side the most precious of wins.