Munster’s Jeremy Manning kicked 12 points as Cork Constitution got the better of arch rivals Shannon to move three points clear at the top of AIB League Division 1A.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 6
CORK CONSTITUTION 17 SHANNON 10, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Try: Frank Cogan; Pens: Jeremy Manning 3; Drop: Jeremy Manning
Shannon: Try: Luke O’Dea; Con: David O’Donovan; Pen: David O’Donovan
In an entertaining top of the table clash at Temple Hill, Cork Constitution did most of the damage in the first half as they broke into an 11-0 lead.
The Leesiders lined out without Denis Hurley, Duncan Williams, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland and Scott Deasy due to Munster call-ups, but their squad depth came to the fore and the fit-again Jeremy Manning played at pivotal role at out-half.
With the wind behind him, the New Zealander kicked penalties after 11 and 19 minutes to edge the home side ahead, with his second kick a beauty from 40 metres out.
Shannon have had a bad run of luck with injuries this season and in Tadhg Bennett’s absence, youngster Gareth Quinn McDonogh donned the number 10 jersey.
He settled well but Cork Con’s pack was dictating the play, with Stephen Archer, Brian Hayes and Peter O’Mahony particularly prominent up front.
It was no surprise that the hosts’ one and only try, scored in the 25th minute, came from a forward move.
Off a five-metre scrum, number 8 Frank Cogan managed to scramble his way over, delighting the majority of the large crowd present.
Trailing 11-0 at half-time, defending champions Shannon had to strike back and they did courtesy of a 47th minute penalty from full-back David O’Donovan.
And with captain David Quinlan impressing, winger Stephen Kelly threatening and hooker Mike Essex getting more ball in the loose, Shannon looked back on form.
Having lost 25-3 at home to Blackrock last time out, this was a crucial game for the Limerick giants and they managed to nip ahead on 55 minutes when young winger Luke O’Dea broke through for a try which O’Donovan converted.
However, Cork Con snapped back control and with their forwards making the hard yards and edging the breakdown battle, a 63rd minute penalty from Manning had the home side back in front.
Another sustained bout of pressure from the home pack teed up a drop goal from Manning, seven minutes later, which proved to be the final score as Cork Con stretched their unbeaten run in the league to eight matches.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Daragh Lyons; Richie Lane, Alex Ryan (capt), Cronan Healy; Jeremy Manning, Dave O’Driscoll; Martin Gately, Robert Quinn, Stephen Archer, Brian Hayes, Merle O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Brendan Cuttriss, Frank Cogan.
SHANNON: David O’Donovan; Luke O’Dea, Fionn McLoughlin, Andrew Finn, Stephen Kelly; Gareth Quinn McDonagh, Rob Guerin; Les Hogan, Mike Essex, Kevin Griffin, Padraic O’Brien, Fergal Walsh, Sean Duggan, John O’Connor, David Quinlan (capt).
Replacements: Gary McNamara, Jason Cronin, Paul Loughnane, Frankie Mc Namara, Richie Mullane.
Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)