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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Conor McKeon was the hero for Lansdowne as his nerveless injury-time penalty decided today’s low-scoring Division 1A top of the table clash, with Clontarf beaten 9-6.



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Conor McKeon kicked Lansdowne to their third straight win – and their second of the month on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch. The result ended defending champions Clontarf’s winning start to the new Ulster Bank League campaign.

Mike Ruddock’s men broke the deadlock in the fifth minute when out-half Scott Deasy slotted a penalty from 30 metres. Mark Roche, Cian Kelleher and Tom Daly were all prominent as Lansdowne laid down an early marker.

Deasy’s opposite number David Joyce levelled via a 15th minute penalty and this was a far cagier affair in comparison to the sides’ recent meetings – they scored seven tries and 61 points in last April’s game at the same venue.

The loss of winger Michael Brown to injury 19 minutes was a set-back for Clontarf but following a further Lansdowne indiscretion, the dependable Joyce expertly split the posts to offer a slender 6-3 interval advantage to the Bulls.

Clear-cut try-scoring chances were still at a premium on the restart and after Lansdowne lock Stephen Gardiner was sent to the sin-bin for dangerous play in the 51st minute, Joyce pushed a long range penalty wide.

The introduction of Ireland Under-20 internationals Dylan Donnellan and McKeon helped to give Lansdowne fresh impetus during Moylett’s absence, although McKeon missed his first shot at the posts.

The former Gonzaga College pupil was on target from a more central position in the 67th minute to square things up between the last two league title winners.

In a nerve-wracking finale, referee Andy Brace awarded two penalties to ‘Tarf on the hosts’ 22 but Joyce failed to convert either. He was particularly unfortunate with the second one which hit the woodwork and Lansdowne breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The headquarters club then built a platform to snatch a last-gasp victory, McKeon doing the needful with his final place-kick two minutes into injury-time.

Cork Constitution posted their first league victory as tries from young backs Rob Jermyn and Tomás Quinlan saw them defeat Ballynahinch 23-16 at Temple Hill.

The Leesiders took control immediately with a fifth minute penalty from Darragh Lyons, who captained the team in Gerry Hurley’s absence, and winger Jermyn’s converted score followed soon after.

Ballynahinch centre Richard Reaney – taking over the kicking duties from the injured Chris Quinn and Ulster-tied Stuart McCloskey – fired over a long range penalty in the 20th minute, but missed three further kickable efforts from the tee.

‘Hinch had recovered well after full-back Steve Macauley’s early sin-binning, remaining 10-3 behind for the break, and Macauley cut through for a five-pointer in the 46th minute.

But Cork Con went 17-8 ahead when Munster Under-20 talent Quinlan managed to collect his own kick through to touch down out wide. A Lyons penalty from 40 metres widened the margin to 12 points.

The County Down side were back in bonus point territory thanks to a 74th minute try from replacement prop Kyle McCall, before a Quinlan penalty proved to be the clinching kick for Constitution.

Ballynahinch deservedly got something out of the game though as Reaney redeemed himself for those earlier misses by landing an injury-time penalty.

Leinster Academy speedster Adam Byrne helped himself to two tries in UCD’s 32-12 bonus point defeat of Dolphin at Belfield.

The students bounced back from losing away to Young Munster last week, shooting into an early 14-0 lead. A converted try from lock Brian Quill kept Dolphin competitive at the break as they trailed 22-7.

But UCD’s pace and angles of running were too much for the Corkmen at times, with outside centre Harry McNulty and replacement James Harrison also touching down.

Dolphin did get some joy from the forward exchanges and new tighthead prop James ‘Rocky’ Rochford scored a second half try, however it was scant consolation for Steve Ford’s side who remain bottom of the table and are the only team yet to win.

St. Mary’s College won at the third attempt when edging out hosts Old Belvedere 14-10 in a tightly contested Dublin derby at Anglesea Road.

A first half try from winger Conor Toolan was bolstered by a penalty try and two Gavin Dunne conversions. Mary’s did lose replacement Dave Fanagan to the sin-bin and centre Peter Robb touched down for the second week running to give ‘Belvo a losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, in-form Terenure College tore Young Munster apart in a 42-0 demolition job at their Lakelands Park fortress.

Terenure ran in six tries in all and their efforts were enough to see them climb to the top of the table, level on 13 points with fellow unbeaten side Lansdowne but with a superior +60 scoring difference.

Tries from last season’s Division 1B Player of the Year Robert Duke (16 minutes) and winger Harry Moore (39) had the Dubliners 13-0 clear by half-time.

Play had to be held up for 30 minutes due to an injury to Young Munster number 8 Sean Rennison early in the second period. He was taken away by ambulance and is reportedly recovering well.

When the match got back underway, the points kept coming for the home side as Mark O’Neill’s second penalty was followed by a try from scrum half Kevin O’Neill off a five-metre scrum.

Terenure had to play without sin-binned second row Fergal Walsh, but a bad error by Young Munster full-back Ben Martin allowed Shane Donovan clean through for his third try in as many games.

That was the bonus point safely locked away for James Blaney’s charges and centre Stephen O’Neill added the fifth try with 15 minutes left, scoring from a chip through after captain James O’Neill had reacted quickly to a poor restart.

Back rower Kyle McCoy got his name on the scoresheet in the 73rd minute, controlling the ball at the base of an advancing scrum to grab try number six which Stephen O’Neill converted.