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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

It was a busy couple of days in Ulster Bank League Division 1A over the weekend as leaders Lansdowne made it seven wins out of seven, Cork Constitution and Garryowen gained ground on their top four rivals, and there were two notable away victories for the University sides, UCD and Dublin University.



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Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Rory O’Connor 2, Penalty try; Cons: Luke Carty, Penalty try con
Cork Constitution: Tries: JJ O’Neill, Graeme Lawler, Ned Hodson; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3; Pen: Aidan Moynihan

HT: Buccaneers 12 Cork Constitution 17

Cork Constitution moved up one spot to third in Division 1A after seeing off Buccaneers’ determined challenge at Dubarry Park. Aidan Moynihan’s 11-point kicking haul proved crucial for Constitution in a 24-19 win, which saw the sides share out six tries in a full-blooded affair.

The visitors scored the first try within two minutes in the corner through winger JJ O’Neill, giving out an ominous warning. Buccaneers had further reason for concern ten minutes later as Graeme Lawler went round the corner after a series of close-in drives to score to the left of the posts.

Moynihan, who started in place of Tomas Quinlan, converted both tries to make it 14-0 to the defending champions. Buccs, whose lineout and scrum were both under pressure, were boosted by Luke Carty’s kicking from open play but with another Under-20 player Simon Meagher getting ball away from the base of the scrum only under severe pressure.

The Athlone side were still game to counter attack, however, and any notion that Cork Con would have an easy afternoon was dispelled by the definite spirit and no little ability shown by the hosts. Approaching the half hour mark, Buccs were rewarded for their good play.

A deft punt ahead by out-half Carty was collected by Alan Gaughan who sent Rory O’Connor away. The winger continued to embellish his record of tries scored but had much to do when tackled short of the line where he showed tremendous determination to score a fine try. Carty added the conversion from beside the posts.
The Pirates were now battling at the breakdown through Martin Staunton and Evan Galvin and, as replacement Dan Law arrived on the scene, another counter in midfield set up O’Connor to race over for a superb sixth try of the season, which went unconverted Moynihan responded with a tricky penalty just before half-time, giving Con a 17-12 lead in very wet conditions.
Both teams were defending ferociously either side of halfway for a lengthy stretch after the interval, but Buccs blinked first and a move by the Leesiders stretched the home defence before the hour mark, sending winger Ned Hodson over in the corner. Moynihan continued his impeccable place-kicking form to send the conversion over and make it double scores – 24-12.
But with Law impressive in both set pieces and in the loose, the midlanders were still very much in the contest and a smashing Carty break from halfway almost yielded a try. Eventually, the efforts of the Pirates pack in scrums and mauls was rewarded with a penalty try as they drove with purpose.

However, despite their sustained and encouraging endeavours, Buccs could not fashion another score and they had to be content with their second losing bonus point in the space of a week.

BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Darragh Corbett, Alan Gaughan, Shane Layden (capt), Rory O’Connor; Luke Carty, Frankie Hopkins; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Niall Farrelly, Cian Romaine, Ruairi Byrne, Ronan Farrell, Evan Galvin, Simon Meagher.

Replacements: Rory Grenham, Ryan O’Meara, Dan Law, Sean Dempsey, Graham Lynch.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Ned Hodson; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan, Graeme Lawler, Ross O’Neill, Evan Mintern.

Replacements: Jack McHenry, Gavin Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Gerry Hurley, Brendan Monahan.

CLONTARF 0 LANSDOWNE 9, Castle Avenue (played on Friday)
Scorers: Clontarf: –
Lansdowne: Pens: Scott Deasy 3

HT: Clontarf 0 Lansdowne 6

Unbeaten Landowne tightened their grip on top spot in Division 1A as Scott Deasy’s razor sharp right boot downed Clontarf 9-0 at Castle Avenue on Friday night.

Out-half Deasy was successful with two first half penalty attempts to give Mike Ruddock’s men a 6-0 lead, and he added a third which ‘Tarf were unable to respond to.

Lansdowne’s perfect start to the new season – seven straight wins – has eclipsed their run of results in their 2013 and 2015 title-winning campaigns. With this match doubling up as the Leinster Senior League Cup final, captain Ian Prendiville also lifted the provincial silverware.

It was a frustrating night at the office for Clontarf, who paired recent Leinster debutant Conor O’Brien and the division’s top try scorer Matt D’Arcy (six tries) together in midfield.

The wet, wintry conditions were always going to militate against an open game, and the tight exchanges were a critical battlefield in determining the outcome. The Lansdowne front row of Peter Dooley, Tyrone Moran and Prendiville won a penalty in the first scrum, after just three minutes, and Deasy sent his 38-metre kick through the posts for 3-0.

Clontard had marginally the better of the early exchanges, but their momentum was disrupted by the sin-binning of in-form second row Cormac Daly on 21 minutes after the touch judge on the far side of the pitch intervened. They also missed out on a try when an effort from star centre D’Arcy was disallowed.

Lansdowne grew more into the first half as it went on, and their backs always looked the livelier of the two combinations, showing greater pace and variety in attack as Deasy ran the show superbly. Although full-back Eamonn Mills slipped during a promising attack, the visitors won a subsequent penalty, 23 metres out, and Deasy’s crisp strike put six points between the sides at the break.

With Clontarf playing in their favoured direction in the second half, the home supporters anticipated an upturn in their fortunes. Instead, it was Lansdowne, once again proving their stamina in the third quarter, who took the match to the home side.

Jack Dwan, who shook off an early knock, and Josh O’Rourke, a late replacement for Oisin Dowling in the second row, got through a ton of good work. The lock pairing were ably assisted by replacement Aaron Conneely, who made several entries into the fray as the rolling substitutes rule was used to good effect

Daniel McEvoy broke free onto a chip through after 48 minutes but was caught just when it looked like he might break the deadlock. ‘Tarf were penalised in the subsequent ruck and once again the sure-footed Deasy made them pay the price, splitting the posts for a 9-0 lead.

Lansdowne’s tremendous forward effort continued, and, in truth, they should have scored on at least two occasions following several series of pick-and goes on the north Dubliners’ line. Referee Chris Busby twice penalised Lansdowne on the Clontarf line during the second half and, in general, tended to favour the defending side. Lansdowne continued to dominate the match territorially and absorbed the best the hosts could throw at them.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Rob McGrath, Conor O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Joe Roe, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Tom Byrne, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Dylan Donnellan, Neil Reilly, Vakh Abdaladze, Sam Cronin, Sean O’Brien.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe, Ian Fitzpatrick; Scott Deasy, Charlie Rock; Peter Dooley, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Jack Dwan, Josh O’Rourke, Jack O’Sullivan, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Adam Boland, Aaron Conneely, Alan Bennie, Adam Leavy.

GARRYOWEN 6 YOUNG MUNSTER 3, Dooradoyle (played on Friday)
Scorers: Garryowen: Pen: Neil Cronin 2
Young Munster: Pen: Alan Tynan

HT: Garryowen 6 Young Munster 3

The rain-soaked conditions made for a very tight affair between Limerick rivals Garryowen and Young Munster on Friday night, with Neil Cronin kicking the Light Blues to a hard-earned 6-3 victory at Dooradoyle.

Ireland Under-20 international Alan Tynan returned in Munsters’ number 10 jersey, a fifth-minute scrum penalty in front of the posts allowing him to boot the visitors in front.

Garryowen, who lost to Lansdowne last week, improved as the first half wore on, their captain Cronin firing over two penalties after 11 and 27 minutes to give them a 6-3 advantage by the half hour mark. Cronin and his half-back partner Jamie Gavin were also winning the tactical battle with the boot.

The wind caught a further shot at the posts from the Ireland Club international scrum half, while a knock-on with the line in sight spoiled a rare try-scoring opportunity for the hosts, who gave more game-time to Munster’s Sam Arnold in midfield.

The weather worsened for the start of the second period, with scoring chances again few and far between and tempers flaring on a couple of occasions. Tynan missed a kick from wide on the right, and although Cronin was off target from 40-plus metres, his earlier brace proved enough for Conan Doyle’s men who had powerful performances up front from Niall Horan and Dean Moore.

In-form number 8 Gavin Coombes was the pick of the Young Munster pack, while Calvin Nash almost broke through for a potentially decisive try. It came from a terrific break by fellow centre James O’Connor, but full-back Dave McCarthy rescued the situation for Garryowen with a smashing cover tackle.

GARRYOWEN: Dave McCarthy; Andrew O’Byrne, Sam Arnold, Peadar Collins, Liam Coombes; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Nik Hildebrand, Sean O’Connor, Dean Moore, Tim Ferguson, Jack Daly, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Diarmaid Barron, Barry McNamara, Mark Rowley, Mikey Wilson, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; Tom McHale, Calvin Nash, James O’Connor, Daniel Hurley; Alan Tynan, Rob Guerin; Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery (capt), Colm Skehan, Fineen Wycherley, Mike Madden, Diarmaid Dee, Dan Walsh, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Tom Ryan, Jack Harrington, Jack Lyons.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 15 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 18, Templeville Road (played on Friday)
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Marcus O’Driscoll, Tim Maupin; Con: Conor Dean; Pen: Conor Dean
Dublin University: Tries: Richard Dunne, Paddy Finlay; Con: Bryan Mollen; Pens: Bryan Mollen 2

HT: St. Mary’s College 15 Dublin University 8

A strong scoring burst either side of half-time saw Dublin University battle past St. Mary’s College for a potentially crucial 18-15 win at Templeville Road on Friday.

Lying second-from-bottom, Trinity came from behind to secure their third triumph in four league games with returning Ireland Sevens international Bryan Mollen landing the match-winning penalty in the 54th minute.

St. Mary’s opened the scoring in the third minute with a supremely-executed penalty by out-half Conor Dean. On a damp evening, Trinity should have been level soon after but Mollen’s first kick of the night, from just outside the 22, drifted well past the left hand post.

It was not long until Mary’s were back on the front foot. Following a neat offload by Dean, Leinster-capped back rower Caelan Doris broke powerfully through a gap in the defence. He was hauled down just shy of the whitewash before play was switched out to the right where centre Marcus O’Driscoll was able to ease over for the opening try.

After Dean narrowly missed the conversion at 8-0, Mollen got the students off the mark from his second penalty attempt in the 25th minute. However, former Trinity favourite Tim Maupin stung his old club by clinically finishing a try in the right corner off a counter attack. Dean swung over a terrific touchline conversion for 15-3.

Nonetheless, just when Mary’s appeared to hold all the cards, Trinity responded with a crucial score just before half-time. Building through the phases, it was influential openside Richard Dunne who succeeded in holding off a series of tackles to notch a five-pointer under severe pressure.

The seven-point deficit was completely wiped out within two minutes of the resumption. Tony Smeeth’s youngsters gained a foothold close to the opposition posts after Maupin had spilled possession in the greasy conditions, and although they had to be patient, hooker Paddy Finlay eventually crossed the whitewash on the left.

A successful conversion from Mollen had Trinity back on level terms, and with Mary’s now struggling to find their rhythm, the visitors moved ahead on 54 minutes. Forceful attacking play from Trinity led to a penalty in front of the posts and Mollen comfortably added the three-pointer.

With four defeats from their previous five league outings, Mary’s were desperate to end a scoring sequence that had seen Trinity register 15 points without reply. They had a chance to do so close to the hour mark, but the visitors breathed a sigh of relief when Dean’s latest penalty attempt dropped short.

Mary’s started to get on top of possession moving into the final quarter, though, and with Dean kicking to touch from penalties in the 72nd and 74th minutes, it was clear that they wanted to seek out a match-winning try.

After securing the lineout from the second of these set pieces, Mary’s embarked on a multi-phase attack that looked set to yield the crucial score. However, the Trinity defence brilliantly manufactured a penalty on their own five-metre line, which allowed them to close out a narrow but deserved victory.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Terry Kennedy; Tim Maupin, Darren Moroney, Marcus O’Driscoll, Craig Kennedy; Conor Dean, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O’Flaherty, Caelan Doris, Nick McCarthy, Jack Dilger.

Replacements: Cathal Ryan, Emmet Ferron, Jack Aungier, Hugh Kelleher, Robbie Glynn, Ryan O’Loughlin, Mark Fallon.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Bryan Mollen, Michael Courtney (capt), Seb Fromm, Billy O’Hora; James Fennelly, Angus Lloyd; James Bollard, Paddy Finlay, Joe Byrne, Jack Burke, Alex McDonald, Sam Pim, Richard Dunne, David St Leger.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Darragh Higgins, Niall O’Riordan, Rowan Osborne, Jack Kelly.

TERENURE COLLEGE 17 UCD 22, Lakelands Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Terenure College: Tries: Eoin Joyce, Jake Swaine; Cons: James Thornton 2; Pen: James Thornton
UCD: Tries: Liam Hyland, Penalty try, Gavin Mullin; Cons: Penalty try con, Ciaran Frawley; Pen: Ciaran Frawley

HT: Terenure College 7 UCD 15

Recent Leinster debutant Josh Murphy made the break which led to Gavin Mullin’s clinching try in UCD’s thrilling 22-17 win away to Terenure College on Friday.

Former leaders Terenure trailed 22-7 at Lakelands after that 58th minute score, but a Jake Swaine try just three minutes later, coupled with a James Thornton penalty, reduced the arrears to five points with little over 10 minutes remaining.

There was a yellow card apiece in the closing stages, ‘Nure losing former Ireland Under-20 international Harrison Brewer for a deliberate knock-on, and the students hung on to end their four-match losing streak in Division 1A.

UCD were able to field four current Ireland Sevens players in Billy Dardis, Jimmy O’Brien, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors. They led 15-7 at the turnaround, a quick tap seeing prop Liam Hyland cross from close range before a charge-down led to Terenure’s Eoin Joyce replying just two minutes later.

A Ciaran Frawley penalty and a scrum-won penalty try, following Terenure’s first yellow card of the night, put eight points between the sides at the break. UCD’s stout defence continued to frustrate the hosts who, despite cancelling out Mullin’s try with an improved final quarter, failed to reel them in.

TERENURE COLLEGE: James O’Donoghue; Jake Swaine, Marc Hiney, Ted O’Donoghue, Conor Weakliam; James Thornton, Kevin O’Neill; Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Schalk Jooste, Alex Thompson, Michael Melia, Cathal Deans, Paddy Thornton, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Robbie Smyth, Kieran Moloney, Harrison Brewer, Tim Schmidt, Mark O’Neill.

UCD: Billy Dardis; Tommy O’Brien, Jamie Glynn (capt), Jimmy O’Brien, Hugo Keenan; Ciaran Frawley, Nick Peters; Jeremy Loughman, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Brian Cawley, Emmet MacMahon, Josh Murphy, Will Connors, Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Michael Moynihan, Steven McVeigh, Harry Byrne, Gavin Mullin.

Match Photos:

St. Mary’s College v Dublin University – St. Mary’s College RFC
Terenure College v UCD – Philip Duke/Terenure College RFC