St. Mary’s College shocked arch rivals Clontarf with a blistering performance which gave them a 24-7 bonus point victory and moved them to the top of AIB League Division 1A.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 3
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 24 CLONTARF 7, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Robin Copeland 2, Darragh Fanning, Ronan Doherty; Cons: Gavin Dunne 2
Clontarf: Try: Sean Carey; Con: Martin Dufficy
Clontarf narrowly edged Mary’s out of a semi-final play-off spot in last season’s AIB League, but Peter Smyth’s side managed to gain a hearty slice of revenge at Templeville Road on Saturday afternoon.
Blustery conditions made life difficult for Clontarf in the first half and Mary’s took full advantage by scoring four tries before the break.
Athletic second row Robin Copeland stood out as the key man for the home side, taking on a crucial role in the ruck and lineout.
His hard work paid off with two well-taken tries and he was a deserving winner of the man-of-the-match accolade.
New signing Gavin Dunne looks to be a useful acquisition for Mary’s, who have Australian player-coach Shaun McCarthy and ex-Leinster flanker Ciaran Potts on board once again as coaches.
Dunne looked assured at full-back as Mary’s began their league campaign in fine fettle.
The conditions were not ideal for the kickers and when Clontarf were handed an early penalty opportunity, former Ireland Under-20 international Martin Dufficy opted to kick for the corner rather than go for goal.
The decision did not pay off for Clontarf and they soon found themselves defending against a strong Mary’s attack in their own half.
The hosts came close to scoring in the fifth minute, however Ronan Doherty knocked the ball on five metres from the try-line.
Copeland reacted quickly after Gavin Dunne’s penalty struck the post in the 10th minute and he managed to collect the ball and score the first try under the posts.
Clontarf’s lacklustre passing allowed Darragh Fanning collect a loose ball and after a superb run which saw him beat two Clontarf players, he dived over for the second try.
Mary’s once again capitalised on ‘Tarf’s handling errors and the back-line managed to get the ball out to winger Doherty, who touched down in the corner after a well worked move.
Impressively, Copeland chalked up the bonus point for Mary’s after just 27 minutes when he broke through a tackle and with a clear run to the line, he comfortably made it over.
Dunne converted to make the score 24-0 and it stayed this way until half-time.
Dufficy had a chance to reduce the arrears in the first minute of the second half but he pulled a penalty attempt slightly left of the posts.
‘Tarf did hit back in the 55th minute when Michael Keating made the initial incision in the defensive line and offloaded to Sean Carey for an easy run-in.
The visitors, who have Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman as their new director of rugby and Simon Broughton as head coach, threatened their opponents’ try-line on numerous occasions in the second half but the Mary’s defence held firm right up until the final whistle.
– Report by Marcus Glynn
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Gavin Dunne; Ronan Doherty, Philip Brophy, Mark Sexton, Darragh Fanning; Shaun McCarthy, Joe Burns; Colm McMahon, Richard Sweeney, Robert Sweeney, Gareth Logan, Robin Copeland, Damian Hall, Paul Nash, Hugh Hogan (capt).
Replacements used: Barry O’Flanagan for Nash (25 mins), Kevin Carroll for McMahon (50), Stephen Grissing for Sexton (55), Conor Donohoe for Dunne, Gavin Hickie for Richard Sweeney (both 73).
CLONTARF: Daragh O’Shea; Sean Carey, Henry Bryce, Killian Lett, Carl de Chenu; Martin Dufficy, Hugo Nolan; Ciaran Kavanagh, Aaron Dundon, Niall Treston, Scott Watson, Ben Reilly, Simon Crawford (capt), Ben Focas, Patrick Mallon.
Replacements used: Phil Howard for Nolan (30 mins), Michael Keating for de Chenu, Martin Garvey for Watson, Johnny Wickham for Kavanagh (all half-time), Niall Carson for Dundon (50).
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)