Clontarf turned in a sparking second half performance to upset defending champions Shannon 32-26 at Coonagh, as last year’s finalists went toe-to-toe once again.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 27
SHANNON 26 CLONTARF 32, Coonagh
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Mike Essex, David Quinlan, Richie Mullane; Con: Mossie Lawlor; Pens: Mossie Lawlor 2, David O’Donovan
Clontarf: Tries: Michael Keating 2, Martin Dufficy, Sean Carey, Eoin Cremin; Cons: Martin Dufficy 2; Pen: Martin Dufficy
Play-off chasers Shannon got off to a great start when skipper Mossie Lawlor landed a first minute penalty and this was followed in the fifth minute with a try by winger Richie Mullane which Lawlor converted.
Tries by winger Michael Keating and out-half Martin Dufficy kept Clontarf in touch but number 8 David Quinlan notched a second Shannon try to have his side 18-10 in front at the interval.
A minute into the second half, Ireland Club international hooker Mike Essex touched down for the hosts and Colm Tucker’s charges looked to be cruising.
However, Dufficy made it 23-13 with a 50th minute penalty and wingers Sean Carey and Keating inspired a ‘Tarf revival with further tries.
Dufficy converted the second of them to have ‘Tarf 25-23 in front. It got even better for the relegation-threatened Dubliners when flanker Eoin Cremin pounced on a loose ball, five metres out, to dot down for Dufficy to convert and finish off a famous away win.
It was a vital result for Bernard Jackman’s men as they look to stave off relegation. They are still second-from-bottom, but with 24 points they are now just a point behind a faltering Blackrock side.
‘Rock, however, have a game in hand and ‘Tarf will need to beat high-flying St. Mary’s College in their final game if they are to stand any chance of avoiding the drop.
Shannon’s play-off hopes now rest on a final day win at home to arch rivals Garryowen, while they must also hope that third-placed Dolphin lost out on their travels to Cork Con.