Clontarf maintained their presence at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, holding off a strong second half challenge from Galwegians to run out 16-9 winners at Castle Avenue today.
Playing on their new 4G pitch, which was officially opened beforehand by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O’Sullivan, Clontarf scored the only try of a tight game through strong-running centre Matt D’Arcy.
D’Arcy (pictured below) prized open a gap in midfield and finished off in clinical fashion, with full-back Rob Keogh converting and kicking two first half penalties. Two other efforts from the full-back bounced back off the woodwork, while Aidan Moynihan opened Galwegians’ account with a 29th minute strike.
Trailing 13-3 at half-time, ‘Wegians upped the intensity in the third quarter with their pack growing in influence. Young out-half Moynihan duly notched two more penalties, and winger Alan McMahon went close to squeezing over for a try in the right corner.
The north Dubliners introduced experienced duo Sam Cronin and Evan Ryan into their back-line, and the pair were prominent in the build-up to Keogh’s nerve-settling 64th-minute penalty.
That proved to be the clinching score, as Moynihan missed a final penalty attempt and a promising John Cleary break was spoiled by Doron McHugh not releasing on the ground.
Garryowen came good in the second half to outscore hosts Old Belvedere by three tries to two and claim a 28-13 win at Anglesea Road.
Having lost at Lansdowne last weekend, Conan Doyle’s men returned to the capital in determined mood and had the game’s leading light in scrum half Neil Cronin, who got through a huge amount of work and contributed 18 points via a try, two conversions and three penalties.
Fellow backs James McInerney and James Frawley also touched down for the Light Blues, who led 13-10 at the break and have now leapfrogged ‘Belvo into third in the table. Willie Staunton kicked a lone second half penalty to add to the hosts’ earlier five-pointers from winger Mark Corballis and number 8 and captain Jonathan Slattery.
Former Ireland Under-20 winger Barry Daly waltzed over for two tries, taking his season’s haul to six, as UCD enjoyed a runaway 39-10 bonus point triumph over defending champions Lansdowne.
The title holders suffered their third defeat in four league outings and were comprehensively outplayed at the Belfield Bowl. Noel McNamara’s students, who are now up to second in the standings, had braces from Daly and Tom Fletcher and a try apiece from Conall Doherty and Jamie Glynn.
What was most impressive about UCD’s stellar performance is that they delivered such an eye-catching result without six starters from last weekend’s 35-3 win at Galwegians – Adam Byrne, Sean McNulty, Josh Murphy, Peadar Timmins, Jeremy Loughman and Jack Power all played for Leinster ‘A’ on Thursday night.
Fletcher, lining out at full-back, ran in a spectacular score to add to Daly’s earlier effort and give UCD a 15-3 half-time buffer. College’s brilliant hands and angles of running left Lansdowne’s defence under all sorts of pressure, a run of scores from Daly, Doherty and the excellent Fletcher putting them 34-3 clear by the hour mark.
Yellow cards for Shane Grannell and Daly, coupled with a Lansdowne penalty try, had McNamara’s youngsters down to 13 men, before scrum half Glynn grabbed the last five-pointer, following up on a well-placed garryowen into the visitors’ 22.
Left winger Jake Swaine (pictured above) touched down twice as Terenure College dominated the final quarter to take a 30-6 verdict over Ballynahinch at Ballymacarn Park.
Bottom side ‘Hinch are still hunting for their first win of the league campaign, but over the first hour they did show signs – against last season’s beaten semi-finalists – that they are definitely improving.
Ulster recruit Sam Windsor shifted from out-half to full-back and slotted a brace of first half penalties to give Derek Suffern’s side a 6-3 interval lead.
However, Terenure gradually took control of proceedings as they chalked up a third victory in four games.
Two James Thornton penalties had them ahead by the 50th minute, and James Blaney’s men were soon out of sight thanks to three converted tries – out-half Thornton added the extras to efforts from Swaine, who took his season’s tally to 30 points, and former Ireland Under-20 centre Harrison Brewer, who was a second half replacement for Leinster ‘A’ against Connacht Eagles on Thursday.
Meanwhile, new Young Munster boss David Corkery got one over on his former club Cork Constitution as the Cookies won a hard-fought Munster derby 11-10 at Tom Clifford Park.
A 55th minute try from replacement winger Darragh O’Neill proved decisive for Munsters whose third straight victory has moved them up to sixth place – two points outside the top four.
The Limerick side dominated the first half during which they had six penalty opportunities. Twice they opted for the corner and with another they took a quick tap, but the ball was turned over by the Cork Con pack as they tried to drive over.
Eventually they opted to kick at goal after 37 minutes when Ireland Sevens international Gearoid Lyons was successful. The out-half added another on the stroke of half-time for a 6-0 scoreline.
It was a deserved lead for Corkery’s charges, but a penalty from the in-form Tomas Quinlan got Con off the mark in the 43rd minute. They then stung Munsters with an intercept try, as centre Shane Daly picked off a pass on his own 22-metre line and raced clear for a score which Quinlan converted.
However, fittingly on a day when Paul O’Connell was made an honorary life vice-President of the club, O’Neill’s very well-taken try proved to be the match winner for Young Munster.