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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Two of Saturday’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A fixtures ended in draws, leaving just five points between the clubs aiming for a home semi-final and only three points splitting the sides battling against relegation.



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Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Sean Coughlan, Daniel Riordan; Con: Willie Staunton; Pen: Willie Staunton
Lansdowne: Tries: John O’Donnell 2, Paul Boyle

HT: Old Belvedere 0 Lansdowne 15

Old Belvedere gave themselves a fighting chance in their battle against relegation from Ulster Bank League Division 1A as they shared the spoils with 14-man Lansdowne at Anglesea Road on Saturday afternoon.

First half tries from John O’Donnell (two) and Ireland Under-20 international Paul Boyle had leaders Lansdowne in pole position for another win, but with the visitors’ blindside flanker Joe McSwiney sent off in the second period, ‘Belvo dug deep to claim a 15-all draw and two potentially vital points.

Looking to bounce back from defeats to Clontarf and Cork Constitution, Lansdowne had the better of the opening exchanges although young out-half Charlie McMickan missed a long range penalty before injury forced him off. Fergal Cleary replaced him.

Mike Ruddock’s men kicked their next two penalties to the corner and a 12th minute maul was finished over the line by O’Donnell on the right. His centre partner Mark Roche missed the conversion but Lansdowne doubled their lead in the second quarter, spreading the ball wide to the left for Ireland Sevens international O’Donnell to finish comfortably.

Their third unconverted try followed on the half hour mark when they opted for a scrum rather than a shot at the posts. Promising number 8 Boyle picked off the base and burst over for the score, leaving ‘Belvo with a 15-point deficit to overcome.

Limerick man Willie Staunton was introduced at the break and he opened Belvedere’s account with an expertly-struck penalty after 44 minutes. The home side suffered a setback when prop Adam Howard was sin-binned, however McSwiney’s dismissal in the 56th minute for a high tackle on ‘Belvo’s Paul Pritchard proved even more significant.

Staunton uncharacteristically missed the resulting penalty kick, but ‘Belvo’s persistence was soon rewarded with a 68th minute try which saw them counter at pace from a turnover and returning Ireland Club international Sean Coughlan charged away to score in the right corner.

The conversion was missed but the hosts were now benefiting from that numerical advantage. Loosehead Howard made a powerful break and although he was halted inside the Lansdowne 22, full-back Daniel Riordan picked up the ball in space and clinically cut through for a try on the right.

Staunton was faced with a tricky conversion but the former Garryowen, Young Munster and Terenure half-back superbly split the posts to bring Belvedere level. The sides could not be separated in the closing stages, meaning bottom side Belvedere had closed the gap on Garryowen to three points at the foot of the table, while Lansdowne’s lead at the summit is down to two points with two rounds remaining.

OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Eddie Weaver, John Kennedy (capt), Ben Woods, Sean Coughlan; Paul O’Keefe, Aaron Sheehan; Adam Howard, Ed Rossiter, Daryl Ryan, Jack Kelly, Connor Owende, Karl Miller, Paul Pritchard, Jonathan Slattery.

Replacements: Cathal O’Flynn, Eoin O’Neill, Matt Ritani, Willie Staunton, Ben Butler.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, John O’Donnell, Mark Roche, Mark O’Keeffe; Charlie McMickan, Matthew D’Arcy; Jacob Walshe, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O’Rourke, Stephen Gardiner, Joe McSwiney, Charlie Butterworth, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Ntinga Mpiko, Barry Fitzgerald, Alan Bennie, Fergal Cleary. 

Scorers: UCD: Pen: Matthew Gilsenan
Terenure College: Pen: Jake Swaine

HT: UCD 0 Terenure College 0

Relegation-threatened Terenure College climbed out of the bottom two with a hard-earned 3-all draw with UCD at the Belfield Bowl.

Terenure have edged ahead of Garryowen in the battle of the basement sides, but they almost pipped the mid-table students in the final seconds with full-back Jake Swaine narrowly missing a difficult penalty from out on the right wing.

Both sides showed plenty of attacking endeavour early on but a fast-paced first half ended scoreless, with UCD full-back Billy Dardis and Terenure winger Sam Coghlan Murray both looking dangerous. UCD out-half Matthew Gilsenan watched a long range penalty attempt go to the left and wide.

The UCD pack nearly muscled their way through for a try early in the second period, the combined ball-carrying efforts of Greg Jones, Josh Murphy, Andrew Porter and Peadar Timmins almost leading to a score.

However, Terenure, whose confidence was boosted by their recent win over Old Belvedere, showed huge determination in defence. They were driven on by captain and Ireland Club international Kyle McCoy, with centre Stephen O’Neill and number 8 Eoin Joyce also standing out.

‘Nure’s cover defence thwarted Hugo Keenan as he almost got away following a neat link-up with Will Connors. Into the final quarter, Gilsenan had another penalty miss before Swaine, the visitors’ goal-kicking full-back, found the target for the opening score.

Discipline was key in the closing stages and UCD looked to have the momentum after Terenure’s hard-working blindside Robert Duke was sin-binned and Gilsenan mopped up with the levelling three points. However, it was ‘Nure who had two final shots at the posts as Swaine was just short from halfway and then pushed a last-minute effort wide in a very tense finish.

UCD: Billy Dardis; Hugo Keenan, Jamie Glynn (capt), Stephen Murphy, Tom Fletcher; Matthew Gilsenan, Nick Peters; Liam Hyland, Gordon Frayne, Andrew Porter, Josh Murphy, Emmet MacMahon, Greg Jones, Will Connors, Peadar Timmins.

Replacements: Michael Moynihan, Robert Byrne, Brian Cawley, Harry McNulty, Gavin Mullin.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Jake Swaine; Marc Hiney, Stephen O’Neill, Robbie Carroll, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O’Neill, Kevin O’Neill; Gary Hamilton, Robbie Smyth, Conor McCormack, Mike Murphy, Kyle McCoy (capt), Robert Duke, Harrison Brewer, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Tiarnan Creagh, Cian Madden, John Dever, Isaac Boss, Robbie Murphy. 

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Conor Kindregan, Max Abbott; Cons: Tomas Quinlan 2; Pens: Tomas Quinlan 4
Garryowen: Tries: Sam Arnold, Liam Coombes, Neil Cronin; Con: Neil Cronin; Pen: Neil Cronin

HT: Cork Constitution 10 Garryowen 12

Hooker Max Abbott’s late try clinched a dogged 26-20 victory for Cork Constitution against Munster rivals Garryowen at Temple Hill on Saturday.

Garryowen, who are battling to avoid relegation, outscored the Leesiders by three tries to two but fell agonisingly short in the end. Indiscipline cost them with Con out-half Tomas Quinlan clinically dispatching four penalties through the posts as part of a 16-point personal haul.

There were scoring chances at both ends before Munster centre Sam Arnold brilliantly broke the defensive line from 40 metres out and touched down in the seventh minute for Garryowen. Captain Neil Cronin, who played for the Ireland Club International team last week, added the conversion.

Hunting for their fourth win in a row, Constitution hammered away at a resilient Garryowen defence before Quinlan opened the hosts’ account with a 25th minute penalty. There was no stopping Conor Kindregan eight minutes later as he collected a try following a series of mauls, adding to his second row partner Brian Hayes’ recent hat-trick of scores.

However, Garryowen took a 12-10 lead into the break thanks to full-back Liam Coombes’ fifth try of the campaign, with a lot of credit going to flanker Mikey Wilson whose clever step opened up the space and Coombes managed to squeeze over in the left corner. Quinlan missed a subsequent penalty before the half-time whistle was blown.

The Constitution forwards forced the issue on the resumption as their scrum began to cause damage, aided by impressive replacement prop Rory Burke. Quinlan landed two penalties from three attempts, splitting the posts after 45 and 48 minutes and then hitting the woodwork with a subsequent attempt.

The Light Blues kept plugging away and were rewarded with their third try in the 67th minute. A well-worked back row move, including a strong run from number 8 Bailey Faloon, saw scrum half Cronin released for an unconverted try and a 17-16 lead.

The Corkmen responded with Quinlan’s fourth penalty success in the 76th minute but Cronin cancelled that out with three points of his own. However, the play-off chasing hosts, who had now nudged their way into second place, secured a crucial turnover and denied Garryowen with that decisive try from Abbott under the posts.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Shane Daly; Liam O’Connell, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Tomas Quinlan, Jason Higgins; Liam O’Connor, Max Abbott, Ger Sweeney, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Graeme Lawler, James Murphy, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Rory Burke, Gavin Duffy, Cian Barry, John Poland, JJ O’Neill.

GARRYOWEN: Liam Coombes; Steve McMahon, Sam Arnold, Peadar Collins, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham; Andrew O’Byrne, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Eamon Costello, JP Phelan, Sean O’Connor, Barra O’Byrne, Dara Shanahan, Mikey Wilson, Bailey Faloon.

Replacements: Anson Thai­, Mike O’Donnell, Tim Ferguson, Johnny Keane, Jamie Heuston. 

Scorers: Clontarf: Try: Rob McGrath; Pens: David Joyce 2
Young Munster: Try: Craig O’Hanlon; Con: Alan Tynan; Pen: Alan Tynan; Drop: Alan Tynan

HT: Clontarf 8 Young Munster 7

Teenage out-half Alan Tynan was the toast of Young Munster after his last-ditch drop goal steered the Cookies past top-four rivals Clontarf.

Munsters came away from sunny Castle Avenue with a 13-11 win and four precious match points as they ended their two-match losing streak in Division 1A, climbing above ‘Tarf into third place in the process.

This was a tight contest throughout, Munster’s Cian Bohane and Robin Copeland making their presence felt as the visitors grabbed the game’s first try through left winger Craig O’Hanlon, which Tynan converted. 

However, O’Hanlon’s opposite number Rob McGrath hit back with an unconverted effort, adding to David Joyce’s earlier penalty as the north Dubliners, who had won their last four matches, led 8-7 at the turnaround.

Tynan and Joyce exchanged penalties before the former stepped up as his side’s match winner right at the death. The Tipperary youngster’s coolly-struck drop goal gives Munsters a timely boost ahead of their April 8 date with Cork Constitution. Only two points separate the sides in the standings as they chase a much-coveted home semi-final.

This was a costly defeat for Clontarf who have fallen from second to fourth, but they are only three points behind Con with two rounds remaining. The defending champions, who welcomed back Conor O’Brien from a long injury lay-off, are away to St. Mary’s College in two weeks’ time before hosting UCD on the final day (April 15).

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Rob Keogh, Michael Browne, Matt D’Arcy, Rob McGrath; David Joyce, Sam Cronin; Vakhtang Abdaladze, Jason Harris-Wright, Royce Burke Flynn, Ben Reilly (capt), James Doyle, Tony Ryan, Karl Moran, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Jonathan Larbey, Adrian D’Arcy, Ivan Soroka, Mark Sutton, Conor O’Brien.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; James O’Connor, Jack Harrington, Cian Bohane, Craig O’Hanlon; Alan Tynan, Rob Guerin; Gavin Ryan, Ger Slattery (capt), Colm Skeehan, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy, Elie Mundu, Dan Walsh, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Alan Ross, David Begley, David O’Mahony, Jack Lyons. 

Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Penalty try, Bryan Mollen, Colm Hogan, Tim Maupin; Cons: Bryan Mollen 2
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Terry Kennedy, Gus Jones, Kevin Sheahan, Ian O’Neill, Darren Moroney; Cons: Cathal Marsh 2, Ian O’Neill; Pens: Cathal Marsh 2

HT: Dublin University 7 St. Mary’s College 20

St. Mary’s College outscored Dublin University by five tries to four in a brilliant advertisement for Ulster Bank League rugby at College Park.

These two attack-minded sides went at it hammer and tongs, with Mary’s capitalising on a blistering start in sunny conditions as they gained some revenge for September’s frustrating 31-19 home defeat to the students.

Mary’s jet-heeled full-back Terry Kennedy ran in a superb solo try – ably assisted by man-of-the-match Darren Moroney – to open the scoring. With the ball moved through seven pairs of hands, flanker Gus Jones, a former England Under-20 international, finished off a fine team move out wide for a second unconverted try.

The Trinity defence gave way again as number 8 Kevin Sheahan broke through by the posts following some patient build-up play from the forwards. Leinster’s Cathal Marsh, who pulled the strings in dynamic fashion from out-half, added the conversion for a 17-0 lead after just 24 minutes.

The hosts, who had won their last two matches, found a chink in Mary’s armour when second row Cathal O’Flaherty was sin-binned and pressure in the scrum yielded a penalty try which winger Bryan Mollen converted. A 38th minute penalty from Marsh closed out the first half’s scoring at 20-7.

The Trinity backs, including Ireland Under-20 starlet Colm Hogan, were particularly potent in the second half, with place-kicker Mollen, Hogan and USA international Tim Maupin all touching down. Their bonus point score arrived in the 79th minute.

A skillful set-up by Under-20 out-half James Fennelly created a try out wide for Mollen, and full-back Hogan started and finished the students’ third touchdown, racing from his own 22 to the visitors’ 22 and then replacement scrum half Rowan Osborne’s subsequent half-back led to Hogan crossing the whitewash.

Osborne had a very good impact off the bench, ensuring that Trinity’s push for a try-scoring bonus point came to a rewarding end in the final minutes. Two more replacements, Jack Boland and Michael Silvester, both carried with purpose before Fennelly teed up Maupin to go over out wide.

But Jamie Cornett’s Mary’s side were out of reach by then, Ian O’Neill securing their bonus point with a 52nd minute try created by Kennedy and Conor Hogan and finished smartly by the outside centre. Marsh added a second penalty before the industrious Moroney deservedly put his name to try number five, sidestepping and then dragging three defenders with him over the whitewash with 74 minutes on the clock..

Mary’s and Trinity are now sitting sixth and seventh in the Division 1A table, six and five points clear respectively of the relegation play-off position. This win was hugely important for Mary’s as they still have to play title contenders Clontarf (April 8) and Cork Con (April 15).

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan; Tim Maupin, Michael Courtney, Kyle Dixon, Bryan Mollen; James Fennelly, Brian Slater (capt); Eric O’Sullivan, Paddy Finlay, Charlie Connolly, Jack Burke, Raef Tyrrell, Pierce Dargan, Richard Dunne, Tom Ryan.

Replacements: Jack Boland, Tom Collis, Cian O’Dwyer, Roghan Osborne, Michael Silvester.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Terry Kennedy; Mark Fogarty, Ian O’Neill, Darren Moroney, Conor Hogan; Cathal Marsh, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Brian McGovern (capt), Ciaran Ruddock, Cathal O’Flaherty, Nick McCarthy, Gus Jones, Kevin Sheahan.

Replacements: Hugo Kean, Cathal Ryan, Jack Dilger, Hugh Kelleher, Paddy Lavelle.