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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Bottom side Buccaneers were the only winners in the bottom half of the Division 1A table over the weekend, while Lansdowne’s Friday Night Lights victory at home to Terenure College has stretched their lead at the summit to 10 points.



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This season sees the introduction of the #UBLTry of the Month award with a prize of 250 euro for each monthly winner and entry into the Try of the Year award.

Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Alex McDonald, Kyle Dixon, Michael Silvester 2; Cons: James Fennelly 4
Garryowen: Tries: David Johnston, Liam Coombes 3, James McInerney; Cons: Neil Cronin 3; Pens: Neil Cronin 2

HT: Dublin University 7 Garryowen 20

Garryowen have climbed into second place in Ulster Bank League Division 1A thanks to a free-flowing 37-28 bonus point win over Dublin University at College Park.

Munster Academy winger Liam Coombes starred with a hat-trick of tries in a thrilling nine-try encounter which saw Trinity also pick up a try-scoring bonus point.

The students made the early running in cold and crisp conditions and hit the front in the 14th minute, a well-executed lineout maul seeing their American second row recruit Alex McDonald reach over in the corner.

James Fennelly nailed the difficult conversion – the first of his four successful kicks on the day – but Garryowen full-back David Johnston took advantage of some loose defending to make it 7-5 by the end of the first quarter.

A penalty from captain Neil Cronin nudged the Light Blues ahead before the 6ft 3in Coombes opened his account via a clever Cronin-inspired attack on the half hour, and he then pounced for another try on the stroke of half-time, thanks to excellent hands from Johnston.

That left Trinity 20-7 in arrears and with their Ulster and Munster-capped scrum half Angus Lloyd having to go off injured, they had it all to do. They were right back in it, though, when in-form full-back Michael Silvester squeezed over in the corner for his fourth try of the campaign.

Frustratingly for Tony Smeeth and his fellow coaches, the students slumped when allowing Garryowen through for a quick-fire double, as their defence out wide was again found wanting.

Coombes nabbed his third try and the bonus point in the 52nd minute – crossing to the left of the posts after a strong midfield carry from number 8 Sean Rennison – and replacement James McInerney got on the scoresheet three minutes later. That put 20 points between the sides and a final penalty from Cronin, 10 minutes from time, completed the visitors’ handsome haul.

Either side of that kick, Trinity found their rhythm again to secure a hard-earned bonus point late on. Centre Kyle Dixon profited from some purposeful phase play to score in the 63rd minute, and Ireland Under-20 international Silvester combined with skipper Michael Courtney to take his season’s haul to five tries so far.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Jack Kelly, Michael Courtney (capt), Kyle Dixon, 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, James Moriarty.

GARRYOWEN: David Johnston; Andrew O’Byrne, Dave McCarthy, Peadar Collins, Liam Coombes; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Mike Sherry, Andy Keating, Aaron McCloskey, Dean Moore, Tim Ferguson, Mikey Wilson, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Liam Cronin, JP Cooney, Barra O’Byrne, Mark Rowley, James McInerney.

BUCCANEERS 19 UCD 13, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Shane Layden, Rory O’Connor; Pens: Luke Carty 3
UCD: Try: Emmet MacMahon; Con: Harry Byrne; Pens: Harry Byrne 2

HT: Buccaneers 13 UCD 6

There was delight all round for bottom side Buccaneers as they ended their seven-match losing streak by taking a 19-13 verdict at home to UCD on Saturday.

Buccs captain Shane Layden chipped in with a try and in-form winger Rory O’Connor also touched down for the seventh time this season, while there were big performances from half-backs Luke Carty, who kicked nine points off the tee, and Connacht’s Conor McKeon, whose energy and effectiveness around the park earned him the man-of-the-match award.

With the strong sunshine at their backs, the Pirates scored an equally bright try when, after turning over possession on the visitors’ 10-metre line, they promptly stretched the defence with swift movement of the ball and a strong carry by Alan Gaughan before the centre linked with O’Connor. The latter still had much to do but he outflanked the College cover to score to the left of the posts.

From a fairly straightforward position, Carty was uncharacteristically unable to embellish this excellent score with a conversion but the young out-half quickly found his range four minutes later after UCD conceded a penalty at scrum time. This was just the start that the midlanders had hoped for, 8-0 to the good.
The students replied with an 18th minute from Harry Byrne, younger brother of Leinster’s Ross Byrne. It followed a decent build-up by the visitors that brought them close to the home line where a defensive knock-on was deemed deliberate while Peter Claffey, who did not hear the referee’s whistle, played on and was promptly yellow carded.

But this double setback did not faze spirited Buccs and, after Gaughan was tackled in the air, they made promising territory with a penalty to touch on the right. Although the home pack was a player short, they then shunted UCD backwards at a scrum to earn a penalty which was tapped swiftly and Niall Farrelly was held up just short of the College line.

However, scrum half McKeon neatly scooped the ball back to Layden and the Buccaneers skipper powered over for an unconverted 22nd minute try in the right corner. A good spell towards the end of the first half, with Peadar Timmins and the UCD pack enjoying decent possession, saw Byrne knock over his second penalty, leaving it 13-6 to the hosts at half-time.

The sun clouded over during the interval and Buccs were a little edgy on the restart. Darragh Corbett, who had dealt comfortably with a long diagonal ball before the break, was not so convincing with a kick ahead by Robert Keenan, opting to pass infield instead of simply clearing his lines and Callum Boland’s kick under pressure was blocked but the ball spun over the end-line.

A well-struck penalty from Carty restored Buccs’ 10-point advantage, but UCD set up a dramatic final quarter of an hour with a terrific team try, started by a Ciaran Frawley break from deep and finished off by lock Emmet MacMahon touching the ball against a post pad. Byrne converted for a 16-13 scoreline.

As both sides unloaded their benches, Buccs had the next opportunities to add to their tally but a lineout throw just five metres out went badly awry on 73 minutes. However, within a minute, they had doubled their advantage after a teasing up-and-under by Carty tempted the students offside and the Connacht Academy out-half was coolness personified when drilling over a penalty from 25 metres out.
In the dying moments, College threw everything they could at the hosts but relentless tackling by Buccaneers and one mighty clearance by Graham Lynch ensured that they were not going to let this game slip from their grasp. 

BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Rory O’Connor, Alan Gaughan, Shane Layden (capt), Darragh Corbett; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Niall Farrelly, Cian Romaine, Peter Claffey, Evan Galvin, Simon Meagher, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Rory Grenham, Conan O’Donnell, Dan Law, Graham Lynch, Corey Reid.

UCD: Ciaran Frawley; Rob Keenan, Jamie Glynn (capt), Gavin Mullin, Tommy O’Brien; Harry Byrne, Nick Peters; Jeremy Loughman, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Brian Cawley, Emmet MacMahon, Ronan Foley, Will Connors, Peadar Timmins.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Rory Mulvihill, Stephen McVeigh, Matthew Gilsenan, Jack Ringrose.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Jason Higgins, Graeme Lawler; Con: Aidan Moynihan; Pens: Aidan Moynihan, Tomas Quinlan 2
St. Mary’s College: Try: Marcus O’Driscoll; Con: Conor Dean; Pens: Conor Dean 4

HT: Cork Constitution 15 St. Mary’s College 13

Tomas Quinlan rescued a crucial win from the jaws of defeat for Cork Constitution as they pipped St. Mary’s College 21-19 at Temple Hill.

Quinlan’s late penalty denied struggling St. Mary’s their first victory in four rounds, despite an all-round impressive performance from Peter Burke’s side.

Half-backs Jason Higgins and Aidan Moynihan drove Constitution into an early 10-point lead, the nippy scrum half throwing a dummy to snip over from close range following a series of lineout mauls and former Galwegians out-half Moynihan kicking the other points.

Conor Dean, son of current Ireland team manager Paul Dean, opened Mary’s account with a 14th minute penalty, before Graeme Lawler weighed in an opportunistic solo try, breaking the line and showing impressive pace and footballing skills to kick through and then hack on a ricocheted ball which St. Mary’s full-back Craig Kennedy was unable to gather and the onrushing Lawler grounded it.

However, the Dubliners had the better of the exchanges before half-time, centre Marcus O’Driscoll leaving the defence for dead with a clever sidestep and kick collect behind the posts. His well-taken try was converted by out-half Dean who also added a late penalty.

The 15-13 deficit at the break was erased by Dean’s well-struck 55th-minute penalty, the only score of a defence-dominated third quarter that saw the tackle count spiral, while Cork Con had to cope with the loss of powerhouse lock Conor Kindregan to the sin-bin.

Quinlan replaced Moynihan and restored Con’s lead with a 67th minute penalty. Mary’s battling qualities came to the fore as they set up a 73rd minute kick which Ireland Under-20 international Dean nailed for a 19-18 lead.

Staring at their fourth defeat in eight games, Cork Con showed exactly why they won the title last season. One final push earned them a shot at glory and Quinlan, the man-of-the-match in last May’s final, displayed his undoubted class again with a coolly-struck match winner, from a difficult position 25 metres out, wide on left.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally (capt), Joseph White; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Max Abbott, Dylan Murphy, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Joe McSwiney, Graeme Lawler, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Jack McHenry, Brendan Quinlan, Sean Duffy, Gerry Hurley, Tomas Quinlan.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Craig Kennedy; Myles Carey, Darren Moroney, Marcus O’Driscoll, Ryan O’Loughlin; Conor Dean, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O’Flaherty, Nick McCarthy, Hugh Kelleher, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Jack Aungier, Emmet Ferron, Daragh McDonnell, Robbie Glynn, Matthew Oppermann, Mark Fallon, Ronan Watters.

YOUNG MUNSTER 22 CLONTARF 23, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Ger Slattery 2, Dan Walsh; Cons: Alan Tynan 2; Pen: Alan Tynan
Clontarf: Tries: Rob McGrath, Sean O’Brien, Jack Power; Con: David Joyce; Pens: David Joyce, Conor Kelly

HT: Young Munster 14 Clontarf 15

Young replacement Conor Kelly landed the decisive penalty with the last kick of the game as Clontarf claimed a breathless 23-22 victory at Young Munster.

Munsters fell 15 points in arrears and came back to lead twice in the second half, however ‘Tarf had the final say as Kelly nervelessly kicked his first Ulster Bank League points.

The Cookies will feel that they were soft concessions, but the north Dubliners touched down twice inside the opening 25 minutes to move 15 points clear.

Adding to David Joyce’s early penalty, Rob McGrath and Munster Academy back Jack Power both crossed the whitewash but that brought the best out of Munsters whose former captain Ger Slattery led by example.

The experienced Munster-capped hooker muscled over from a 38th minute try, which Alan Tynan converted, and the hosts, who relied on a strong set piece platform, ground out a second seven-pointer finished off by industrious openside Dan Walsh.

With the gap now down to a single point (15-14), the Greenfields faithful roared with delight as the home pack remained on the front foot and Slattery completed his brace, five minutes after the break.

However, Gearoid Prendergast’s charges, who are now eight points outside of the top four, lapsed at crucial stages and failed to make the most of their scoring opportunities.

Instead, it was promising young centre Sean O’Brien who struck out wide for ‘Tarf’s third try of the afternoon, and although a Tynan penalty had Munsters five minutes away from a gutsy win, the visitors forced a last-gasp infringement which Kelly gleefully turned into the match-winning score.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; Tom McHale, Jack Harrington, James O’Connor, Daniel Hurley; Alan Tynan, Jack Lyons; Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Colm Skehan, Fineen Wycherley, Tom Goggin, Ben Kilkenny (capt), Dan Walsh, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Marc Kelly, Rob Guerin, Conor Hayes.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Rob McGrath, Sean O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Vakh Abdaladze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Joe Roe, Tom Byrne, Royce Burke-Flynn, Sam Cronin, Conor Kelly.

LANSDOWNE 21 TERENURE COLLEGE 13, Aviva Stadium back pitch (played on Friday)
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Mark O’Keefe, Daniel McEvoy; Con: Scott Deasy; Pens: Scott Deasy 3
Terenure College: Tries: Eoin Joyce 2; Pen: James Thornton

HT: Lansdowne 6 Terenure College 3

Lansdowne have pushed 10 points clear at the top of the Division 1A standings, having won 21-13 in Friday’s tense top of the clash with Terenure College.

Mike Ruddock’s men dug out their eighth successive victory of the league run, landing a crucial blow on the hour mark when winger Daniel McEvoy scored a breakaway try while the hosts were down to 13 men.

A tightly-contested first half on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch ended 6-3 in Lansdowne’s favour, with their talismanic out-half Scott Deasy landing penalties after 10 and 24 minutes, either side of a lone James Thornton effort at the other end. Play was quite scrappy with neither side able to dominate the lineout or scrum, and solid tackling forcing knock-ons at both ends of the pitch.

The game, a cagey affair up to that point, began to open up in the second period as great work from Lansdowne full-back Eamonn Mills, who regained his feet following a Jake Swaine tackle and held off a couple of defenders, saw him feed supporting winger Mark O’Keefe for a 48th minute try from close range.

Two sin-binnings in the space of six minutes threatened to derail Lansdowne, and their lead was duly cut to five points – 13-8 – when replacement scrum half Tim Schmidt worked the ball to the blindside and number 8 Eoin Joyce crossed for Terenure’s opening five-pointer.

Skipper Robbie Smyth and towering lock Alex Thompson led a workmanlike ‘Nure pack, but Landowne’s tricky wingers were proving tough to quieten down, even with a couple of players in the bin. The hosts won the restart and immediately sought out a response on the scoreboard.

Leinster scrum half Charlie Rock, who made a big impact off the Lansdowne bench, exploited some space with a clever grubber kick towards the right corner and McEvoy stole a march on the ‘Nure cover to reach the bouncing ball first and restore the 10-point advantage. The nearby touch judge gave his thumbs up to the grounding, however there were big doubts over whether McEvoy actually got it down successfully

Undeterred, James Blaney’s charges kept the pressure on with another well-executed try as some neat interplay between pacy Sam Coghlan Murray and flanker James O’Neill set up Joyce’s second try of the night, making it 18-13 with a quarter of an hour remaining.

However, Deasy landed the second of two penalty attempts in the closing stages, punishing Terenure prop Schalk Jooste for a rather unfortunate offside from a knock-on. It took away the losing bonus point and ‘Nure’s growing frustration saw them end the game with 14 players.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, Mark O’Keefe; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Greg McGrath, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O’Rourke, Oisin Dowling, Jack O’Sullivan, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Adam Boland, Jack Dwan, Charlie Rock, Adam Leavy.

TERENURE COLLEGE: James O’Donoghue; Jake Swaine, Stephen O’Neill, Marc Hiney, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Kevin O’Neill; Schalk Jooste, Robbie Smyth (capt), Cian Madden, Alex Thompson, Michael Melia, Cathal Deans, James O’Neill, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Killian Bolger, Harrison Brewer, Mark O’Neill, Conor Weakliam.