Shannon made it four wins in-a-row to go top of AIB League Division 1A with an assured bonus point victory over St. Mary’s College at Templeville Road on Saturday.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, January 30
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 16 SHANNON 27, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Try: Darragh Fanning; Con: Gavin Dunne; Pens: Gavin Dunne 3
Shannon: Tries: Fionn McLoughlin 2, John O’Connor, David Quinlan; Cons: Tadhg Bennett 2; Drop: Mossie Lawlor
In what was a thoroughly exciting encounter, Shannon cleverly took every opportunity that was handed to them and with a rock solid defence, they denied St. Mary’s any spoils despite a great performance from the hosts.
Playing with their backs to the sun in the first half, St. Mary’s enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory, yet they only just managed to see out the half on level terms at 10-10.
Although it was against the run of play, the visitors took their first try very well.
Experienced scrum half Frankie McNamara popped the ball to fleet-footed winger Stephen Kelly who split the defence in two before kicking over the top for centre Fionn McLoughlin to finish neatly under the posts.
If anything, the try spurred the home side on and they kept play right down in the Shannon 22. However, despite some brilliant passing through the back-line, the Dubliners found it difficult to breach Shannon’s defensive line.
They finally got on the scoresheet in the 33rd minute through a Gavin Dunne penalty but Shannon replied straight away with a Mossie Lawlor drop goal.
On the stroke of half-time, St. Mary’s were eventually rewarded for their exciting quick-running rugby with an excellent try from winger Darragh Fanning.
Centre Stephen Grissing made the break and offloaded to winger Ronan Doherty. He switched back inside to deliver the final pass to Fanning who used a quick burst of pace to power over the line in the corner.
St. Mary’s saw their good work shattered at the start of the second half though. Two early tries from number 8 David Quinlan and flanker John O’Connor put Shannon well in the ascendancy.
The try of the match undoubtedly came from Quinlan in the 45th minute. Out-half Tadhg Bennett started the move with a kick from his own 22 and he was involved again with some lovely interplay between Eoghan Grace and prop Garry McNamara before popping it off to Quinlan who was left with a five-metre run to the line.
St. Mary’s were unfortunate to find themselves so far behind in the second half and despite their continued positive play with ball in hand, they could only manage another two penalties from Dunne in the face of an unfaltering Shannon defence.
Shannon finished off a smart tactical game with a well-finished fourth try from McLoughlin, giving them a bonus point and a three-point lead at the top of the table, with former leaders Cork Constitution otherwise occupied in winning the AIB Cup.