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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Lansdowne head into the Christmas break with an enviable 11-point lead at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, after overcoming a spirited UCD side 46-30 on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.


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.

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LANSDOWNE 46 UCD 30, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Mark O’Keefe 2, Alan Bennie 3, Adam Boland, Penalty try; Cons: Scott Deasy 3, Pen try con; Pen: Scott Deasy
UCD: Tries: Stephen McVeigh, Stephen Murphy, Keelan McKenna, Steven Kilgallen; Cons: Harry Byrne 2; Pens: Harry Byrne 2

HT: Lansdowne 25 UCD 15

Mike Ruddock’s all-conquering Lansdowne squad claimed their tenth straight league victory to keep up their unblemished run, and the highlight of their latest success on Saturday was a hat-trick of tries from tricky scrum half Alan Bennie, one of their Ireland Sevens internationals.

The eager crowd were treated to 11 tries in all, six of which came in a very entertaining first half that saw Lansdowne shoot out into a 10-3 lead inside the opening ten minutes.

Winger Mark O’Keefe, whose brace of tries took his season’s haul to six, and Bennie both did a lot of damage with their pace off the mark and eye for a gap, and three of the hosts’ first half tries were finished off in the right corner.

Lansdowne started as if they were going to blow UCD away. A first minute penalty saw them move into the 22 where, playing a penalty advantage, out-half Scott Deasy floated a glorious cross-field kick over for O’Keefe to gather and touch down. Deasy struck an upright with the conversion attempt.

Young UCD out-half Harry Byrne cut the lead with a third-minute penalty, only for Lansdowne to strike again through O’Keefe, this time after a lineout steal by Jack O’Sullivan saw the ball worked wide. The winger showed both power and pace to accelerate through the College defence for another try in the corner. Deasy was again narrowly wide with the conversion, but Lansdowne were 10-3 ahead and appeared to be in control.

The visitors had other ideas, however, and they bounced back with a try after Alex Penny blocked a clearance kick and Stephen McVeigh scored. Byrne missed the conversion, but his side was back in the contest at 10-8 down inside the first 15 minutes.

Lansdowne put some good attacking phases together, but the killer touch evaded them. Following a strong thrust by hooker Tyrone Moran, which led to a penalty, they set up several attacking phases. From the last of these, lively scrum half Bennie crossed for a well-worked 24th-minute try on 24 minutes. Deasy added the extras this time.

Again, it looked as if Lansdowne would edge away from their tenacious opponents, only for the home defence to go asleep as Stephen Murphy got the students’ second try following some good approach work from lock Tom Tracy.

After Byrne’s successful conversion, there was still time for another try before the interval when, from a lineout maul, Bennie sniped down the blindside, exchanged passes with O’Keefe and scampered over for his second try of the afternoon. Deasy was unable to convert as Lansdowne turned around with the bonus point in the bag and a 25-15 lead.

UCD emerged strongest on the resumption as Lansdowne appeared to be a little guilty of complacency. From a tapped penalty, Andy Skehan’s side set up a series of attacking rucks and lock Keelan McKenna plunged over for a try which cut the lead to 25-22 once Byrne had slotted over the conversion.

Attacking play continued to be the order of the day, and UCD centre Murphy was joined in the sin-bin by Lansdowne flanker O’Sullivan as things heated up. Lansdowne took advantage of Murphy’s absence and after a near miss, they were awarded a penalty try from the subsequent five-metre scrum.

32-22 ahead, Lansdowne were then penalised at a ruck and Byrne cut the gap back to seven points. However, with replacements Ronan Kelleher and Jacob Coughlan making an impact, the home pack finally began to grind down the students.

Following excellent work from the ever-reliable Eamonn Mills at full-back and Harry Brennan in the centre, both of whom made telling thrusts, Bennie darted over for his third try of the game. Deasy nailed the convert, and at 37-25, there was some daylight between the sides.

There was still time for more, however, including a mark by Lansdowne’s inspirational captain Ian Prendiville, Under-20 back Tom Roche making his entry and two more tries in the last ten, helter-skelter minutes.

Firstly, UCD full-back Steven Kilgallen crossed after 75 minutes for an unconverted try at 39-30, and then replacement Lansdowne prop Adam Boland had the last say when he barrelled over for the 11th try of the afternoon for a ruck. Deasy kicked the final points for a 46-30 scoreline which drew the line under a fast and ultra-competitive game of festive rugby.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Mark O’Keefe, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, Ian Fitzpatrick; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Greg McGrath, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O’Rourke, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Charlie Butterworth.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Adam Boland, Willie Earle, Gareth Molloy, Tom Roche.

UCD: Steven Kilgallen; Rob Keenan, Colm Mulcahy, Stephen Murphy, Harry McNulty; Harry Byrne, Nick Peters; Rory Mulvihill, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Tom Tracy, Keelan McKenna, Stephen McVeigh, Alex Penny, Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Michael Moynihan, Jonny Guy, Johnny Glynn, Matthew Gilsenan.

Scorers: Buccaneers: Pens: Luke Carty 2
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Penalty try, Matthew Oppermann, Myles Carey; Cons: Pen try con, Conor Dean; Pen: Sean Kearns

HT: Buccaneers 6 St. Mary’s College 15

Buccaneers were unable to complete a quick-fire double over St. Mary’s College as number 8 and man-of-the-match Caelan Doris helped the visitors prevail 22-6 in Athlone on Saturday afternoon.

Doris played the final eight minutes of the Leinster ‘A’ team’s British & Irish Cup bonus point win away to Bristol on Friday night, and then linked up with Mary’s for this crucial basement battle in the midlands.

Buccs had won the sides’ first meeting 11-10 in Dublin last Saturday, but they missed the Connacht Eagles quartet of Conor McKeon, Conan O’Donnell, Conor Kenny and Paul Boyle – as well as injured back rower Simon Meagher – as Mary’s stretched into a 15-6 half-time lead.

The visitors’ forward power earned the first score after 14 minutes. A terrific maul saw them drive over the home line where their Leinster-capped number 8 Doris grounded the ball but a penalty try was, nonetheless, awarded by referee Paul Haycock. Buccs stemmed the Mary’s tide and then worked their way back into the game with Luke Carty opening their account with a 26th minute penalty.

The midlanders enjoyed their best spell in this period and further good work yielded another successful place-kick from out-half Carty, five minutes later, to leave just a single point between the teams. Flanker Hugh Kelleher was sin binned when conceding that penalty but it was Mary’s who got the next brace of scores.

The Pirates will be disappointed with the concession of both. Their pack infringed at a scrum although having a player advantage and fit-again out-half Sean Kearns drilled over a superb 37th-minute penalty.

Then, in the final move of the first half, Buccs were hesitant in defence and flying full-back Terry Kennedy, who was back from Ireland Sevens duty, took full advantage as he left defenders for defenders for dead, then he straightened and slipped the ball to winger Matthew Oppermann who finished off an unconverted try, wide on the left.
Mary’s were content to kick for territory in the third quarter as the hosts’ patchwork pack found it difficult to make ground. Chances were at a premium in the second half with Kearns missing a straight-forward penalty on the hour mark, while six minutes later Carty was off-target with a long-range effort for Buccaneers.

Just as they had done in the first half, the midlanders conceded a soft try in the closing stages. Darragh Corbett should have opted for the safety of touch following an angled teasing kick by the visitors, but he endeavoured to play the ball infield where Mary’s arrived like a swarm. Possession was pilfered from Cian Romaine with Under-20 winger Myles Carey applying the finishing touches for an opportunist try at the posts, and replacement Conor Dean added the extras.

Five points separate the bottom three sides in the Division 1A table with Mary’s now in eighth on 15 points – level with Dublin University – while Buccs (10 points) remain bottom but their recent performances suggest they can dig themselves out of trouble in the New Year.

BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Rory O’Connor, Alan Gaughan, Shane Layden (capt), Darragh Corbett; Luke Carty, Graham Lynch; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Niall Farrelly, Ryan O’Meara, Ruairi Byrne, Cian Romaine, Evan Galvin, Daniel Law.

Replacements: Rory Grenham, James Foley, Sean Dempsey, Frankie Hopkins, Corey Reid.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Terry Kennedy; Matthew Oppermann, Craig Kennedy, Myles Carey, Tim Maupin; Sean Kearns, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O’Flaherty, Hugh Kelleher, Nick McCarthy, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Hugo Kean, Jack Aungier, Ian Cullinane, Robbie Glynn, Conor Dean.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Max Abbott 2, Conor Kindregan, Penalty try; Cons: Tomas Quinlan 3, Pen try con; Pens: Tomas Quinlan 3
Garryowen: Try: Lorcan Bourke; Pens: Neil Cronin 2

HT: Cork Constitution 17 Garryowen 6

Hooker Max Abbott’s brace of tries helped Cork Constitution see off a weakened Garryowen side 37-11 in the clubs’ Division 1A rematch at a cold and wet Temple Hill.

Owing to injuries and British & Irish Cup commitments with Munster ‘A’, Garryowen were missing six starters from last week’s 24-17 home win over Cork Con – and it showed as the Leesiders broke into a 17-6 interval lead.

The Con forwards flexed their muscles early on with Abbott driven over from a maul in the sixth minute, although the Light Blues strung together some decent phases for scrum half and captain Neil Cronin to pocket two penalty goals.

Tomas Quinlan, who contributed 15 points off the tee, landed his second successful kick to made it 10-6 to Brian Hickey’s men, and a well-executed rolling maul, with Joe McSwiney to the fore, produced Abbott’s second score with 25 minutes on the clock.

The ball was like a bar of soap at times, in the slippery conditions, and the defending champions wisely kept play in the tight with two more Quinlan penalties – he had another effort which hit the post – sandwiching centre Ned Hodson’s 52nd-minute sin-binning.

With the Con defence continuing to give little away, they were clinical in attack again when prop Brendan Quinlan led the charge and captain Conor Kindregan duly crashed over to seal the result with 12 minutes remaining. Garryowen’s backs whipped the ball wide for full-back Lorcan Bourke to touch down in the right corner in the 78th minute.

However, Cork Con rubber-stamped their dominance on the day with an 80th-minute bonus point try, the scrum this time doing the damage as they marched their Munster rivals backwards in ominous fashion and referee Eddie Hogan O’Connell awarded them a well-earned penalty try.

The 26-point triumph has moved the Leesiders back into the top four ahead of the Christmas break, but before that they will meet Garryowen for the third week in a row, taking a return trip to Dooradoyle for next Saturday’s Munster Senior Cup semi-final.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Greg Higgins; JJ O’Neill, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally, Rob Jermyn; Tomas Quinlan, Gerry Hurley; Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott, Ger Sweeney, Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan (capt), Graeme Lawler, Ross O’Neill, Joe McSwiney.

Replacements: Gavin Duffy, Dylan Murphy, Sean Duffy, Jason Higgins, Aidan Moynihan.

GARRYOWEN: Lorcan Bourke; Bryan Fitzgerald, Andrew O’Byrne, Dave McCarthy, Liam Barrett; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Nikolas Hildebrand, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Tim Ferguson, Dean Moore, Mark Rowley, Mikey Wilson, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Niall O’Shea, Barry McNamara, Aaron McCloskey, Darren Ryan, Aaron Rice.

Scorers: Dublin University: Try: Michael Silvester; Con: James Fennelly; Pens: James Fennelly 2
Clontarf: Tries: Cian O’Donoghue, Tony Ryan; Cons: David Joyce 2; Pen: David Joyce

HT: Dublin University 6 Clontarf 3

Flanker Tony Ryan rescued a hard-fought 17-13 win for Clontarf as his late try denied a determined Dublin University side at a bitterly cold College Park.

Enniscorthy man Ryan showed his experience as he took a terrific line onto a pass to score in the corner in the dying minutes, as Trinity were left to rue their error-strewn finish to the game.

Clontarf had five points to spare when they entertained the students last week, and a similarly tight affair was in the offing on Saturday when two James Fennelly penalties had Trinity leading 6-3 at the break.

A powerful burst from hooker Paddy Finlay helped to set up the opening score, while German international Seb Fromm did likewise in the lead up to Fennelly’s 30th-minute strike. Although it was a cagey first half, Trinity had a good few positives emerging from their play, with scrum half Rowan Osborne a bright spark when on the ball.

However, strongly-built Clontarf winger Cian O’Donoghue showed himself to be a threatening runner before half-time, on the stroke of which David Joyce opened the visitors’ account with a penalty. Tony Smeeth’s youngsters deserved their lead, but an early second yellow sin-binning for lock Jack Dunne’s slap down invited ‘Tarf forward again.

The home side were not quick enough when a Fennelly clearance kick was kept in play and Clontarf swiftly worked possession over to the opposite wing where O’Donoghue crossed in the corner, with Joyce adding a classy conversion from a difficult position.

Just over 10 minutes later and after some smothering midfield tackles from Fromm and captain Michael Courtney, Trinity conjured up a superb response as American flanker Alex McDonald thundered through a gap and linked with full-back Michael Silvester who seared away from the cover to notch his seventh try of the league run.

Fennelly’s successful conversion gave Smeeth’s charges a three-point buffer. They were relieved to see ‘Tarf knock on after sticking a penalty into the corner, but Trinity’s own error count was rising and allowing the visitors to work their way into position.

Last season’s beaten finalists showed their cutting edge when it mattered most as O’Donoghue was fed from a scrum and thundered down the wing, sucking in two defenders, before the supporting Ryan found a gap and struck out wide for the game’s decisive score, converted by Joyce.

Ryan’s late heroics have moved Andy Wood’s Clontarf side up from fourth up to second in the standings. Following their seventh loss in ten games, Trinity have a battle on their hands as they have fallen into the bottom two.

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

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Darragh Higgins, Richard Dunne, Dan Joyce, James Moriarty, James Hickey.

CLONTARF: Ariel Robles; Rob McGrath, Sean O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Sam Cronin; Kenneth Knaggs, Dylan Donnellan, Ivan Soroka, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Tom Byrne, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Andrew Feeney, Conor Kelly, Hugh O’Sullivan, Jonathan Larbey, Neil Reilly, Niall Carson, Vincent Gavin.

Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Conor Hayes, Jack Lyons; Con: Shane Airey; Pen: Shane Airey
Terenure College: Try: Jake Swaine

HT: Young Munster 3 Terenure College 5

Two very well-taken second half tries guided Young Munster to a much-needed 15-5 triumph over Terenure College in the second game of their back-to-back fixtures.

Munsters scored 12 unanswered points after the break to run out deserving winners at Greenfields, with teenage replacement Conor Hayes (52 minutes) and Ireland Under-20 international Jack Lyons (60) both dotting down.

Terenure had enjoyed a comprehensive 32-13 victory in the sides’ clash at Lakelands last Saturday. The return leg was scoreless until Young Munster out-half Shane Airey punished a maul infringement with a well-struck 18th-minute penalty.

‘Nure’s persistence paid off with a try in the final play of the first half, nippy winger Jake Swaine outfoxing the defence for his fifth try of the campaign and a 5-3 half-time advantage.

Munsters had lost replacement Gavin Ryan to the sin-bin three minutes before Swaine’s score, but Gearoid Prendergast’s men lifted their performance up a level or two on the resumption provide some early Christmas cheer.

Led by captain Ger Slattery, the home forwards seized the initiative with some muscular mauling in the lead up to Hayes’ unconverted score. Their driving play was also crucial in setting up Lyons’ opportunity and he produced a fine finish, sniping through and stretching over the line.

Airey added the extras to put 10 points between the sides and Terenure were unable to respond in the dull and freezing conditions. The Cookies have moved up one place to sixth following their first win in four rounds.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Jack Lyons; Joseph O’Connor, Jack Harrington, Ben Swindlehurst, Niall Kelly; Shane Airey, Mark Edwards; Conor Bartley, Ger Slattery (capt), Colm Skehan, Tom Goggin, Marc Kelly, Alan Kennedy, Dan Walsh, Diarmaid Dee.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Gavin Ryan, Tom Ryan, Evan O’Gorman, Conor Hayes.

TERENURE COLLEGE: James O’Donoghue; Jake Swaine, Stephen O’Neill, Kaleikaumaka Konrad, Harry Moore; Mark O’Neill, Tim Schmidt; Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Schalk Jooste, Cathal Deans, Michael Melia, James O’Neill, Paddy Thornton, Harrison Brewer.

Replacements: Giorgi Turabelidze, Killian Bolger, Robert Duke, James Thornton, Conor Kelly.

Match Photos:

Young Munster v Terenure College – Liam Coughlan