It was quite a day for the McGrath family as Mick made his PRO12 debut for Leinster and older brother Rob scored a try as Clontarf began their Ulster Bank League title defence with a bonus point win over Young Munster.
The 23-year-old Mick McGrath was top try scorer in Division 1A last season and his 24-year-old sibling seems eager to follow in his footsteps, getting on the scoresheet in Clontarf’s 37-19 victory at Castle Avenue.
An upset was on the cards when Young Munster broke into a 14-3 lead with returning centre Shane O’Leary, who has signed for Connacht, scoring a try and two penalties.
A try from former UCD underage player Jimmy ‘Honey Badger’ Hawkshaw, coupled with a David Joyce penalty, brought the deficit back to a single point at half-time.
Having regrouped, the north Dubliners hit the ground running in the second half with tries from Peter du Toit and Martin Garvey, while it was left to new winger McGrath, who was playing for NUIM Barnhall last season, to run in the bonus point score.
Munsters were not finished though and after the hosts had Conor O’Keeffe and Karl Moran sin-binned, replacement Barry Gibbons touched down to make it 30-19. But David Hegarty put fellow replacement Brian Keelan over for a final try which confirmed ‘Tarf’s winning start.
Lansdowne kicked off the new league campaign with an emphatic 37-6 bonus point defeat of Dolphin on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium.
Dolphin were due to host Mike Ruddock’s men in Cork on the opening day but owing to their pitch not being ready just yet, Lansdowne had home advantage today and former Munster player Scott Deasy shone at out-half.
Deasy controlled proceedings alongside new number 9 Adam Griggs, while Leinster Academy members and Ireland Under-20 internationals Ian Fitzpatrick and Cian Kelleher were let off the leash in attack.
After an initial difficult opening 15 minutes when the sides were neck and neck, Lansdowne pulled 16-6 clear for half-time and bossed the second half with Kelleher, New Zealander Griggs and Fitzpatrick all scoring tries. Replacement Dylan Donnellan, another of Lansdowne’s underage internationals, also touched down with Deasy kicking 15 points.
Meanwhile, Old Belvedere led from start to finish as new Cork Constitution head coach Tom Tierney watched his charges lose 24-8 at Anglesea Road.
‘Belvo, last season’s runners-up, started well with ex-Connacht centre Aidan Wynne landing two early penalties. That lead was built upon by a try from flanker Jack O’Beirne and Wynne’s third successful penalty for a 14-0 interval advantage.
Cork Con improved on the resumption as number 8 Luke Cahill crossed for a try and a 70th minute penalty from Gerry Hurley set up a grandstand finish with just six points separating the sides.
However, Paul Cunningham’s men ground out the result with Wynne taking his tally to 14 points with another penalty and the conversion of a late penalty try.
In the fifth Division 1A game to take place in Dublin over the weekend, promoted club Terenure College opened their win account at home to Ballynahinch.
A superior second half display saw ‘Nure put some daylight between themselves and ‘Hinch as they earned a deserved 32-20 victory in front of a large home crowd.
Right winger Shane Donovan produced a big hand-off on the way to scoring the Dubliners’ first try, but their County Down visitors hit back on the stroke of half-time with a converted effort from one of their own wide men, Ross Adair.
A second try from winger Adair made it 20-14 to the Derek Suffern-coached Ulstermen, but they failed to score after that as Terenure found an extra gear.
Replacement Niall Lalor grounded the ball at the end of a muscular lineout drive and then a quick turnover saw Robert Duke – the 2013/14 Division 1B Player of the Year – offload for his back row colleague Kyle McCoy to touch down under the posts.
Both sides had players in the sin-bin – ‘Hinch lost their scrum half Aaron Cairns and Terenure had to cope without try scorer McCoy – and the hosts seemed to cope better as two final penalties from replacement Mark O’Neill settled the issue.