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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Second half tries from wingers Shane Donovan and Harry Moore made all the difference as Terenure College beat hosts St. Mary’s College 20-14 in today’s ‘Battle of Dublin 6W’ at Templeville Road.



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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was the guest speaker at the pre-match lunch and his prediction on Irish Rugby TV that Terenure College would overturn a 8-3 half-time deficit rang true.

The result continues ‘Nure’s excellent start to life in Division 1A and extends their enviable winning run in the Ulster Bank League to a mammoth 25 matches – their last defeat was against Corinthians in Division 2A back in February 2013.

St. Mary’s, who lost their league opener at UCD, made the better start to this hotly-anticipated derby. Full-back Gavin Dunne missed an initial penalty, before Dunne and Marcus O’Driscoll were involved in sending winger Stuart O’Flanagan over in the right corner for a 16th minute try.

Dunne added a penalty from 35 metres out to give the home side a further boost. Terenure were frustrated by turnovers and a Mark O’Neill penalty attempt that hit the woodwork, however the out-half did open their account in injury-time.

A second successful O’Neill kick, four minutes after the restart, closed the gap further. Dunne seemed to steady the Mary’s ship with a well-struck penalty for 11-6.

Nonetheless, Terenure were beginning to cause serious problems for the Mary’s defence and Cathal Marsh (pictured below) had to react quickly to prevent an almost certain try for ‘Nure full-back James O’Donoghue past the hour mark.

Soon after, an overlap from an attacking scrum saw centre Stephen O’Neill offload for Donovan to cross for his second try in as many games. Mark O’Neill’s conversion put James Blaney’s side ahead for the first time.

Mark O’Neill missed a 72nd minute penalty attempt but the result was effectively put beyond doubt when Moore cut through for a seven-pointer with five minutes left.

With that, the Dr. Mick Smyth Cup and local bragging rights were in Terenure’s grasp, although Mary’s managed to register their second losing bonus point on the bounce thanks to Dunne’s third penalty of the afternoon.

Terenure are now third in the table just behind Clontarf and leaders Lansdowne, who both negotiated tricky trips to Cork to make it two wins from two outings.

Scott Deasy held his nerve to convert an 84th minute penalty for Lansdowne and hand his former club Cork Constitution their second defeat on the trot.

Mike Ruddock’s men emerged as 16-13 winners at Temple Hill despite a spirited second half revival from 14-man Con who had unconverted tries from centre Niall Kenneally and flanker James Murphy.

Out-half Deasy was again Lansdowne’s orchestrator-in-chief, with his neat grubber kick putting young winger Ian Fitzpatrick over for a fourth minute try.

Deasy’s conversion and two penalties cancelled out a lone three-pointer from captain Gerry Hurley, who rallied his troops after lock Graeme Lawler was red carded for his involvement in a 36th minute forward melee.

Lansdowne still led 13-3 with 12 minutes left but Thomas Farrell’s deliberate knock-on made it 14 against 14 again and Tom Tierney’s charges, who scrummaged impressively with seven forwards, suddenly picked off two quick-fire tries.

Kenneally and Murphy both scored during a terrific ten-minute spell for Con to bring them level. Their efforts fell just short though as there was still time though for Deasy to win it right at the death.

For a second week in a row, Clontarf managed to cancel out an early deficit and they have out-half David Joyce to thank for a hard-fought 22-16 victory at Dolphin.

Andy Wood’s charges trailed 13-0 by the 24th minute and had lock Tom Byrne in the sin-bin, with their Musgrave Park hosts taking chance after chance.

From a turnover, Steve Dinan dinked an inviting kick through for onrushing centre Eamonn Mills to touch down in the 12th minute and Rory Scannell converted.

The former Ireland Under-20 international – starting at out-half in place of assistant coach Barry Keeshan – added a penalty three minutes later, rewarding some aggressive defence from the fired-up home forwards.

Dolphin continued to dictate matters on the scoreboard as Scannell split the posts again following Byrne’s yellow, but Scannell’s opposite number Joyce came alive approaching half-time.

Clontarf built through the phases – 12 in all – before creating an opening for new centre Michael Brown to score an unconverted 36th minute try.

Suddenly, it was all ‘Tarf as Joyce followed up on a break by his half-back partner Peter du Toit to dot down by the posts. He added the extras for a 13-12 scoreline at the turnaround.

Having watched Scannell miss a place-kick at the other end, Joyce edged Clontarf in front with a thumping 45-metre effort and by the hour mark the Tullamore man had taken his tally to 17 points via a second converted try.

Despite losing replacement Killian O’Keeffe to the sin-bin, Dolphin replied in the 76th minute with a superb Scannell penalty from halfway. The playing numbers were evened up late on but the home side’s push for a last-gasp try went unrewarded with Clontarf forcing a final relieving turnover on their own line.

Meanwhile, Ballynahinch celebrated their first win of the new league campaign after coming from behind to beat Old Belvedere 13-8 at Ballymacarn Park.

‘Hinch looked to be struggling when they failed to convert a series of early penalties. ‘Belvo’s try on the stroke of half-time was an opportunist effort from Ireland U-20 centre Peter Robb, who scored after gathering a penalty attempt that had come back off the post.

But the County Down outfit turned things around in the second half with winger Ross Adair’s third try of the league run and eight points from the boot of former Dungannon centre Stuart McCloskey.

Continuing the trend of second half comebacks, Young Munster staged a remarkable one to overhaul UCD 24-19 at Tom Clifford Park.

Ross Byrne landed two early penalties to get the students off to a satisfying start in Greenfields. The Ireland U-20 out-half grabbed a third on the quarter hour mark.

The Cookies, who lost at Clontarf last time out, responded in the 25th minute when great approach work from centre Ed O’Keeffe teed up an unconverted score for winger Barry Gibbons.

UCD were not long in cancelling that out though, moving 14-5 clear after replacement Harry McNulty had made it over in the corner. Home out-half Willie Staunton slotted a drop goal in response.

The absence of sin-binned winger Warren Kelly was exposed by UCD closing in on half-time as a quickly-taken lineout led to centre Stephen Murphy running in a classy unconverted score.

That gave Bobby Byrne’s young side a 19-8 lead and Young Munster had it all to do. Bit by bit, they got back in touch with Staunton drilling a penalty over six minutes into the second period.

Young forwards Diarmaid Dee and Luke O’Halloran then made their presence felt as the Cookies took advantage of a UCD yellow card with a well-taken try from bustling centre Dan Goggin. Staunton converted to make it 19-18.

Head coach John Staunton gave youth its fling once more and teenage replacement David O’Mahony came on to play a vital role in deciding the outcome.

The 18-year-old from Adare coolly slotted two decisive penalties in the 75th and 80th minutes to complete Munsters’ memorable fight-back.