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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Clontarf came through one of their biggest tests of the season to date as they posted a 26-9 away win over Young Munster in the Ulster Bank League.

Table toppers Clontarf maintained their title push at Tom Clifford Park, but it was only in the last ten minutes that they shook off Young Munster who had looked on course for a losing bonus point when trailing 14-9.

On a pitch that was a credit to the Young Munster ground staff, it seemed as if their efforts might bring a big reward when goal-kicking scrum half Brian Haugh put them in front with a penalty after only three minutes.

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The lead lasted only three minutes when a penalty from ‘Tarf number 10 David Joyce punished Young Munster for being offside, and he put his side in front midway through the half.

A scrum infringement after 34 minutes cost Young Munster another three points when Joyce was again on target.

Just as he did in the first half, Haugh landed an early penalty in the second period but a try by his opposite number Sam Cronin after 63 minutes put a bit of daylight between the sides.

Another Haugh penalty brought the Limerick men back into contention. However, when a Young Munster player went in at the rong side to bring down a maul it yielded a decisive penalty try for the league leaders.

The north Dubliners mustered a third try two minutes from the end, as man-of-the-match and the division’s top scorer Joyce brought his tally to 16 points.

Lansdowne denied bottom side Garryowen their first win of the league campaign, as a penalty try late in the first half helped them to record a 13-9 victory on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

There was considerable interest in this game due to the fact that former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan was present on the sideline for the visitors.

O’Sullivan has joined the Garryowen management set-up in an advisory role, as the Rory Brosnan-led outfit bid to avoid relegation to Division 1B.

With a gap of 12 points separating them and Ballynahinch, this may prove to be an impossible task, but there certainly were signs of improvement from the Light Blues.

Defending champions Lansdowne enjoyed a large amount of possession early on, but they were being turned over by their determined opponents on a number of occasions.

Despite playing on an artificial surface, the wet and windy conditions were nevertheless restricting both sets of players, with Lansdowne in particular finding it difficult to execute their usual slick patterns of play.

They did eventually break the deadlock, 21 minutes in, when former Cork Constitution star Scott Deasy split the posts with a 30-metre penalty from the left.

As the half wore on, Garryowen were struggling to make headway and with the Dubliners applying huge pressure in the 22 towards the end of the period, it was only a matter of time before they crossed the whitewash.

Garryowen managed to keep them at bay initially, but following good work by the Lansdowne scrum towards the right flank, referee Mark Connolly awarded the hosts a hard-earned penalty try.

Deasy added the extras but Garryowen responded when out-half Alan Gaughan found his range from a 35-metre penalty with the last kick of the half.

10-3 down at the interval, Garryowen raised hopes that a shock was on the cards when Gaughan registered his second successful penalty three minutes after the restart.

This brought about a strong period of dominance by Garryowen, and with Lansdowne being forced on the back foot for an extended spell, there was certainly an opportunity for them to take advantage.

Although they could not quite break through the hosts’ defence, the visitors did cut the deficit to the bare minimum with another Gaughan penalty after 54 minutes.

Lansdowne eventually got a grip on proceedings though, and Deasy’s well-measured 61st minute penalty eased any nerves that they may have been experiencing.

Although a bonus point try now looked beyond reach, Lansdowne continued to search for five-point opportunities nonetheless, and full-back Tom Kiersey was set to pounce six minutes before the end – only for play to be called back.

A spirited Garryowen were persistent in their approach up until the very end of the tie, but try as they might, they could not create enough clear-cut openings.

However, their four-point reversal did at least ensure that they came away with a losing bonus point, which does marginally increase their overall league total to three points.

Meanwhile, full-back Chris Quinn drove home two long range penalties to guide Cork Constitution to a 14-6 defeat of UCD at Temple Hill.

These sides will meet in April’s Ulster Bank Bateman Cup final and the Leesiders gained an early psychological advantage as out-half Darragh Lyons crossed for a 13th minute try, following good interplay between Gerry Hurley, Cathal O’Flaherty and John Ryan.

Team captain Hurley added a 20-metre penalty before the students responded before the break with two successful place-kicks from number 10 James Thornton.

As the weather deteriorated in the second period, scoring chances were few and far between and the game was largely fought out by the forwards over the remainder.

Cork Con gained the upper hand again thanks to Quinn’s accuracy off the kicking tee. He landed a 60-metre shot in the 64th minute and sealed the result with an effort from 50 metres in the dying minutes.

Elsewhere, Dolphin ended their two-match losing streak by winning 13-0 at Ballynahinch. A penalty try was added to by eight points from the boot of league veteran Barry Keeshan.

Old Belvedere, who were hoping to make it seven successive victories, scored the closing try of an exciting 22-22 draw with Dublin rivals St. Mary’s College at Anglesea Road.

Scrum half Matthew D’Arcy took a quick tap to score the visitors’ third try, nosing them into a 22-17 lead with Old Belvedere centre Shaun Berne in the sin-bin.

Skipper Daniel Riordan soon replied with his sixth try of the current season to bring ‘Belvo level, although replacement Fergal Lawlor was unable to add the winning conversion for the second-placed side.

Related Links –

Ulster Bank League: Results Round-Up

Ulster Bank League Tables