Dolphin got back to winning ways in AIB League Division 1A with a smash and grab triumph over lowly UL Bohemians at Thomond Park on Saturday.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 6
UL BOHEMIANS 14 DOLPHIN 32, Thomond Park
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Kieran O’Gorman, Danny Riordan; Cons: Danny Kelly 2
Dolphin: Tries: Rory Kenneally, Sam Cronin, Danny Barnes, Penalty try; Cons: Barry Keeshan 3; Pen: Barry Keeshan; Drop: Barry Keeshan
Dolphin struck for three tries in a devastating seven-minute spell as they kept on track for a shot at the play-offs, with third-placed Shannon now just one point ahead of them in the table.
The result, UL Bohemians’ ninth defeat of the league campaign, means the Limerick students will be playing in Division 1B next season, unless they win their final three matches – including bonus points in each one – and Blackrock fail to pick up any points in their three remaining games.
UL have the makings of a very good side and Martin McPhail, Harry De Stacpoole and the provincially-capped Danny Riordan offer plenty of pace out wide.
But it was in the forwards that Dolphin turned the screw, despite missing influential back row duo James Coughlan and Nick Williams.
Tries from Riordan and flanker Kieran O’Gorman had the hosts 14-11 up, at one stage in the third quarter and they still led with two minutes of normal time remaining.
O’Gorman’s try in the first half was a great ‘team’ score as De Stacpoole ran a kick back from well inside his own half, and the ball passed through the hands of McPhail, Paul Rowley, Dave Moloney and John Ed O’Connor before O’Gorman finished under the posts.
UL should have been ahead at the break but they missed three kickable penalties.
Having led 8-7 at half-time, Dolphin increased their advantage on the resumption with a drop goal from team captain Barry Keeshan.
However, Bohs hit back impressively on 62 minutes when McPhail, O’Connor and Sean Henry were all involved before Riordan was unleashed and the talented full-back cut inside and outpaced the Dolphin cover to notch a try that Kelly converted.
But Dolphin blazed ahead when Bohs lock Ed Kelly was sin-binned and the powerful visiting scrum forced a penalty try, which Keeshan converted.
UL felt it was a harsh award and while they got close to breaching the Dolphin line again, the game got away from them in injury-time as the Corkmen ruthlessly nabbed two breakaway tries off quick turnovers.
Dolphin scrum half Sam Cronin was in very good form, following his captaincy of the Ireland Club XV side last weekend, and his half-back partner Keeshan kept the scoreboard ticking with three conversions, a penalty and a drop goal.
Henry, Dave Kilcoyne and skipper O’Connor tried their hearts out for a valiant Bohs outfit and while the final scoreline was certainly flattering to Dolphin, Steve Ford’s men were the better collective unit on the day.
UL BOHEMIANS: Danny Riordan; Martin McPhail, Dave Moloney, Danny Kelly, Harry De Stacpoole; Fergal Lawlor, Paul Rowley; Dave Kilcoyne, Sean Henry, Mike Storey, Dave Foley, Ed Kelly, Kieran O’Gorman, John Ed O’Connor (capt), Noel Kinane.
Replacements: Eddie Rossiter, Pa O’Regan, Anthony Hartigan, Cathal Sheridan, Giles Boland.
DOLPHIN: Niall O’Driscoll; Paul Hurley, Danny Barnes, Eric Moloney, Rory Kenneally; Barry Keeshan (capt), Sam Cronin; Ron O’Neill, Timmy O’Callaghan, Christy Condon, Chris Rowe, Kyle O’Dwyer, George Finn, Barry O’Mahony, Henry O’Flynn.
Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)