Normal service was resumed in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League today as leaders Terenure College and defending champions Clontarf both got back to winning ways.
Two tries apiece from winger James O’Donoghue and centre Stephen O’Neill helped Terenure College beat Old Belvedere 34-27 in an exciting round 8 encounter at Lakelands Park.
‘Nure’s 29-match unbeaten run was ended by Lansdowne last week and they fell behind here to a fifth minute penalty from Josh Glynn, before scrum half Charlie Rock intercepted a pass to run in ‘Belvo’s opening try out wide on the right.
The hosts managed to respond within three minutes, a well-worked move across the ‘Belvo 22 seeing out-half James Thornton (pictured below) put O’Neill over for an unconverted effort in the right corner.
Old Belvedere countered in impressive fashion with number 10 Aaron Sheehan, who normally operates at scrum half, touching down for his second try in as many league games.
Glynn added a majestic conversion from the left touchline for a 15-5 lead and following a mixed start to the season, ‘Belvo’s confidence was really up.
The concession of two converted tries before half-time brought Paul Cunningham’s side back down to earth, though, with a dangerous lineout maul being finished off by Terenure number 8 Kyle McCoy.
Thornton converted and also added the extras to O’Donoghue’s first of the day in the dying minutes of the half. Brilliant build-up play from Kevin O’Neill and Stephen O’Neill set up the winger and suddenly ‘Nure were 19-15 ahead.
The pendulum was starting to swing in the table toppers’ favour, with ‘Belvo also losing the influential Glynn to injury, and Graham Coffey’s hard work teed up his centre partner Stephen O’Neill for ‘Nure’s bonus point effort five minutes into the second period.
Daniel Riordan, the 2013/14 Division 1A Player of the Year, dragged Old Belvedere back into contention when bravely reaching over the line in the 59th minute.
As play continued to swing from end to end, a Thornton penalty nine minutes later settled the anxious home support. However, Glynn’s replacement David Mongan grabbed a converted score to narrow the gap back to just two points – 29-27.
That was ‘Belvo’s fourth try of the afternoon which meant they would return to Anglesea Road with at least two points to their name. They had enough possession to press for the win but following patient work in defence, Terenure pounced for the match-winning try as O’Donoghue ran in a breakaway effort to confirm his side’s superiority.
Clontarf moved back up to third place in the table thanks to a 27-16 victory at home to Ballynahinch, however they will be frustrated that they missed out on a bonus point.
‘Tarf, winless in their three previous matches, scored three first half tries through backs Michael Brown, Matt D’Arcy and Rob McGrath (pictured below), the brother of Leinster winger and Castle Avenue favourite Mick McGrath.
Blindside flanker Karl Moran got the plaudits for his efforts in the build-up to Brown’s opening score, with out-half David Joyce converting and kicking a penalty before Ballynahinch’s Chris Quinn replied with a three-pointer of his own.
D’Arcy and ‘Hinch hooker Jonny Murphy then swapped tries, and the north Dubliners finished the opening half in good stead by creating an opening for right winger McGrath’s touchdown to lead 24-10.
The second period was a slow-burning affair with defences on top for long spells. ‘Hinch tightened up in defence to cut down the opportunities for the north Dubliners whose only score came from a Joyce penalty.
Their Co. Down opponents reduced the arrears to 11 points thanks to two more penalties from Quinn’s boot but ‘Tarf prevented them from picking up a late losing bonus point.
Meanwhile, Dolphin’s search for their first win goes on after they were defeated 27-18 by St. Mary’s College at Irish Independent Park.
This was a battle between the division’s bottom two sides and a week on from Cathal Marsh’s goal-kicking heroics against Young Munster, Gavin Dunne took on the mantle of match winner down in his native Cork.
Dunne took over the St. Mary’s number 10 jersey and place-kicking responsibilities from Marsh and finished this afternoon’s game with a handsome 17-point haul from five penalties and a conversion.
Dolphin’s discipline let them down early on as they allowed Dunne to convert three penalties for Mary’s inside the opening 10 minutes.
The hosts made some poor handling errors and were unable to fully clear their lines at times, as the Peter Smyth-coached Dubliners maintained their presence within scoring range.
However, a well-taken 18th minute try got Dolphin off the mark as their Munster capped-centre Rory Scannell jinked past the defence to score with assistant-coach Barry Keeshan converting.
9-7 is how it stayed up to half-time and Keeshan briefly put Dolphin ahead with a 43rd minute penalty. Dolphin’s defence let them down, though, when Mary’s replacement Richie Sweeney touched down from a ruck on the hosts’ line.
Dunne (pictured above) converted and then exchanged penalties with Keeshan by the hour mark, before Dolphin flanker Ryan Murphy crossed for the second week running, profiting from some good interplay between backs and forwards.
The game was right back in the melting pot with Mary’s now just 19-18 ahead. The visitors showed their mettle, though, to see out the result. Dunne’s 73rd-minute penalty had them within touching distance of the win and young number 8 Nick Timoney took advantage of a defensive mix-up to claim the clinching five-pointer.