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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

While Lansdowne continue to dominate at the top of the Division 1A table, defending champions Cork Constitution and Terenure College are neck and neck in pursuit of the second home semi-final berth. At the opposite end, Dublin University had an encouraging start to 2018 by moving out of the bottom two.



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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.

LANSDOWNE 38 CLONTARF 8, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Adam Leavy, Daniel McEvoy, Alan Bennie, Aaron Conneely, Scott Deasy; Cons: Scott Deasy 5; Pen: Scott Deasy
Clontarf: Try: Conor O’Brien; Pen: Conor Kelly

HT: Lansdowne 21 Clontarf 3

An inspired performance from Scott Deasy helped Lansdowne claim a comprehensive 38-8 bonus point victory over their chief chasers Clontarf in the top flight of the Ulster Bank League on Saturday afternoon.

The former Munster out-half contributed an impressive 18 points for the runaway Division 1A leaders, and with Adam Leavy (brother of Leinster flanker Dan) also in excellent form, Mike Ruddock’s men comfortably overcame the challenge of their Dublin rivals.

Clontarf put their unbeaten hosts under early pressure, but Conor Kelly, who deputised at out-half for David Joyce, sent a fourth minute penalty wide. Lansdowne kicked into gear from the subsequent restart, and in their first meaningful attack, they worked the ball wide where Deasy released winger Leavy for a try in the corner.

A brilliant conversion by Deasy made it 7-0, and while ‘Tarf enjoyed their share of possession for the remainder of the first quarter, Lansdowne dug deep to secure a succession of defensive penalties. Deasy provided his second try assist on 19 minutes when his sublime cross-field kick landed into the chest of winger Daniel McEvoy who fended off the retreating ‘Tarf defence to score in spectacular fashion.

Another Deasy bonus strike already left the visitors 14 points behind, but following much persistence, ‘Tarf eventually opened their account courtesy of a routine Kelly penalty just shy of the half hour mark.

However, Lansdowne quickly wrestled back control as scrum half Alan Bennie dotted down under the posts after throwing a smart dummy. Deasy’s conversion, followed by a wayward effort from distance by Kelly, ensured Lansdowne led 21-3 at half-time.

When the second half got underway, the fresh legs of Jack Dwan and Leinster Academy starlet Charlie Rock gave the headquarters club an extra edge against a ‘Tarf side that were still searching for a coherent attacking rhythm.

Deasy increased his own tally with a close range penalty, and the bonus point that his side craved later arrived in the 55th minute. After much probing inside the opposition 22, Rock picked out openside Aaron Conneely, who powered through a gap to bag Lansdowne’s fourth converted try of the afternoon.

Inside the final quarter, a five-metre scrum finally had Clontarf within touching distance of the Lansdowne whitewash, before Hugh O’Sullivan and Matt D’Arcy did the spadework for a Conor O’Brien score on the left hand side.

Yet, in a similar vein to Kelly’s first half penalty, this unconverted effort was immediately followed by another Lansdowne try. A pass out of defence by Clontarf was intercepted by the alert Deasy, who sprinted through unopposed for a clinical five-pointer and a resounding 30-point winning margin. ‘Tarf have now dropped to fourth in the table, and courtesy of their eleventh straight win, Lansdowne have sauntered 13 points clear of defending champions Cork Constitution.

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

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Adam Boland, Jack Dwan, Charlie Rock, Mark O’Keefe.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Rob McGrath, Conor O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Sean O’Brien; Conor Kelly, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Royce Burke–Flynn, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Jonathan Larbey, Vincent Gavin, Kenneth Knaggs, Mark Sutton, James McKeown.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Joe White, Sean Duffy, Luke Cahill, Ned Hodson; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3
Buccaneers: –

HT: Cork Constitution 12 Buccaneers 0

Title holders Cork Constitution began the New Year on a winning note as they capitalised on Buccaneers’ errors for three of their tries in a 26-0 bonus point victory at Temple Hill.

On a sunny but bitterly cold afternoon, Cork Con had first benefit of the biting diagonal breeze which helped them enjoy decent early territory. The Buccaneers defence was not found wanting until a Luke Carty clearance from inside his own 22 was blocked down and the hosts were not about to waste such a gilt-edged opportunity with full-back Joe White sallying in for the opening try on 13 minutes. Aidan Moynihan converted from the left.
The opening quarter had elapsed before Buccs got a meaningful foothold in home territory. This stemmed from a swift move involving Conor McKeon, Rory O’Connor and captain Shane Layden up the left flank. When possession was transferred cross-field in the 24th minute, a determined Simon Meagher was driven over the Cork Con line in the right corner but referee Jonny Erskine ruled that it was a double movement.

The Athlone side maintained pressure in this promising spell and Rob Jermyn was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on when he cut out Ryan O’Meara’s offload to Cian Romaine with the line beckoning. Cork Con could hardly have complained had a penalty try been awarded.
Buccaneers continued to search for a score but Layden knocked on when stretching for the home line near the posts on the half hour mark. The skipper then conceded a penalty on halfway four minutes later that brought Cork Con to the red zone on Buccs left flank where, following good work by Liam O’Connell and Luke Cahill, a clinical finish from lock Sean Duffy saw him power in for an unconverted try that gave Brian Hickey’s charges a 12-0 half-time lead.
Constitution lined out without captain Niall Kenneally and vice-captain Conor Kindregan, but had the recently-returned Gerry Hurley back to lead them from scrum half. They restarted in impressive fashion and pinned Buccs back, yet the visitors defended stoutly and eventually turned over the ball close to their right corner flag.

However, having done the hard work, a careless offload was accepted gratefully by industrious number 8 Cahill for a gift-wrapped 48th-minute try. Moynihan added an excellent touchline conversion to stretch the home advantage to 19-0.
Cork Con then went in search of a bonus point try but the midlanders battled gamely and indeed looked like taking the bare look off the scoreboard in the closing stages. But, despite getting close to the home line on a number of occasions, they just could not breach the home defence.

Then, in the final move of the match, the Leesiders snatched a vital fourth try when centre Ned Hodson, fed by Cahill, finished off an end-to-end sweeping counter attack. Moynihan duly converted to put further gloss on the 26-0 scoreline that flattered the victors and did little justice to Buccs’ luckless efforts.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Joe White; Liam O’Connell, Michael Clune, Ned Hodson, Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Gerry Hurley (capt); Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott, Ger Sweeney, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Sonny Dwyer, Gary Bradley, Barry Galvin.

BUCCANEERS: Alan Gaughan; Darragh Corbett, Shane Layden (capt), Ben Carty, Rory O’Connor; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, Eoghan Maher, Conor Kenny, Cian Romaine, Simon Meagher, John Sutton, Evan Galvin, Ryan O’Meara.

Replacements: Niall Farrelly, Brian Diffley, James Foley, Graham Lynch, Frankie Hopkins.

Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Joe Byrne, Evan Dixon, Jack McDermott; Cons: Jack McDermott 2; Pens: Jack McDermott 2
St. Mary’s College: Try: Sean Kearns; Con: Sean Kearns; Pen: Sean Kearns

HT: Dublin University 17 St. Mary’s College 10

Dublin University won for the first time in four Ulster Bank League rounds as they triumphed 25-10 at College Park to complete a season’s double over St. Mary’s College.

The students, who have now climbed out of Division 1A’s bottom two, led from start to finish with fast-breaking Ireland Under-20 internationals Jack Kelly and Michael Silvester both prominent in the early stages. Kelly’s superb break set up an opening penalty from returning out-half Jack McDermott.

Then full-back Silvester, who scored seven tries over the first half of the league season, turned provider as he unlocked the Mary’s defence and offloaded for prop Joe Byrne to finish off by the posts, with McDermott converting.

That good work was undone when Sean Kearns’ penalty and subsequent try from an overthrown Trinity lineout had Mary’s level at 10-all. However, after James Bollard was denied by a knock-on, the hosts regrouped and scored from a brilliant training ground move as winger Evan Dixon went over out wide.

A pinpoint conversion from McDermott made it 17-10 for half-time, with Trinity surviving a frantic late spell near their own try-line after openside Sam Pim was sin-binned.

With captain Ciaran Ruddock and David O’Connor both making their presence felt up front, Mary’s were able to pressurise the Trinity lineout and force turnovers, however the scores just would not come for them.

Luck was on the students’ side when a Mary’s error from a kick led to McDermott notching their third try. He missed the conversion but some gritty defence won a kickable penalty soon after, and the Ireland Club international split the posts to put Tony Smeeth’s youngsters well out of reach.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Jack Kelly, Michael Courtney (capt), Kyle Dixon, Evan Dixon; Jack McDermott, Angus Lloyd; James Bollard, Paddy Finlay, Joe Byrne, Jack Burke, Jack Dunne, Alex McDonald, Sam Pim, David St. Leger.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Darragh Higgins, Richard Dunne, Rowan Osborne, James Moriarty.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Craig Kennedy; Robbie Glynn, Myles Carey, Matthew Timmons, Matthew Oppermann; Sean Kearns, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O’Flaherty, David O’Connor, Hugh Kelleher, Daragh McDonnell.

Replacements: Hugo Kean, Jack Aungier, Nick McCarthy, Ian Cullinane, Ronan Watters, Darren Moroney, Steve Toal-Lennon.

UCD 26 TERENURE COLLEGE 31, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Steven Kilgallen, Liam Hyland, Jamie Glynn, Brian Cawley; Cons: Harry Byrne 3
Terenure College: Tries: Sam Coghlan Murray 2, Penalty try, Mark O’Neill; Cons: James Thornton 3, Pen try con; Pen: James Thornton

HT: UCD 26 Terenure College 7

Sam Coghlan Murray came back to haunt his former club UCD as he scored two tries in a tremendous 31-26 comeback victory for Terenure College at Belfield on Saturday.

‘Nure had lost three of their last four games before Christmas and were staring at another defeat when trailing 26-7 at half-time. Showing a clinical edge, UCD registered their bonus point just past the half hour mark.

Winless in the last three rounds, the students hit the front thanks to winger Steven Kilgallen’s well-taken third-minute try. The scoreboard showed 14-0 after 13 minutes, as the hosts’ robust maul continued to cause problems for Terenure and prop Liam Hyland used quick ball to score under the posts.

UCD’s high-tempo play kept the pressure on the ‘Nure defence and space opened up for scrum half and captain Jamie Glynn to grab try number three from close range, with his half-back partner Harry Byrne converting again.

Coghlan Murray lifted Terenure’s spirits with a try in the corner and James Thornton converted from the touchline. However, UCD’s lineout drives kept gaining yards and winning penalties, the end-product being lock Brian Cawley’s bonus point score.

Although Harrison Brewer’s sin-binning, coupled with a lineout steal when they were poised to strike, prevented ‘Nure from responding before the break, they completely turned the tables in the second half.

With their own discipline tidied up, James Blaney’s men forced a penalty try and then the elusive Coghlan Murray cut through to complete his brace, whittling UCD’s lead down to 26-21.

It was anyone’s game heading into the closing stages, and it was Terenure who seized the initiative as a maul set up out-half Mark O’Neill for the final try of this topsy-turvy contest. The conversion was added and Thornton sealed a five-point success with a last-minute penalty.

UCD: Ciaran Frawley; Steven Kilgallen, Gavin Mullin, Colm Mulcahy, Rob Keenan; Harry Byrne, Jamie Glynn (capt); Jeremy Loughman, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Brian Cawley, Keelan McKenna, Ronan Foley, Alex Penny, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Rory Mulvihill, Tom Tracy, Nick Peters, Matthew Gilsenan.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Stephen O’Neill, Marc Hiney, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O’Neill, Tim Schmidt; Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Schalk Jooste, Michael Melia, Alex Thompson, Cathal Deans, Paddy Thornton, Harrison Brewer.

Replacements: Risteard Byrne, Oisin Heffernan, Eoin Joyce, James Thornton, James O’Donoghue.

YOUNG MUNSTER 25 GARRYOWEN 0, Tom Clifford Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Gavin Ryan, Ger Slattery, Fineen Wycherley; Cons: Shane Airey 2; Pens: Shane Airey 2
Garryowen: –

HT: Young Munster 13 Garryowen 0

Young Munster emerged as resounding 25-point winners of Friday’s Limerick derby against Garryowen at Tom Clifford Park, their only disappointment being their failure to pick up a try-scoring bonus point in the end.

Having lost a tight contest 6-3 to the Light Blues in November, Munsters were fired up for a big performance on home turf – and especially after suffering three losses in the final four rounds before Christmas.

Gearoid Prendergast’s side were quickly on the board thanks to the reliable right boot of out-half Shane Airey, who split the posts with a third minute penalty. There were some nip-and-tuck exchanges up to the half hour mark when Airey had his second penalty success from close range for a 6-0 lead.

The Cookies’ forwards, marshalled by captain Alan Kennedy and former skipper Ger Slattery, pounced for a confidence-boosting try before half-time. Garryowen could not hold out under pressure near their line, as a couple of well-timed passes freed up prop Gavin Ryan to crash over underneath the posts. Airey converted for a deserved 13-0 advantage.

The visitors leaked a second try in the 55th minute when a well-executed lineout maul saw Munsters hooker Slattery driven over near the left corner. Two Munster-capped forwards, Sean O’Connor and Fineen Wycherley, had very different impacts off the bench for their respective clubs.

Garryowen’s O’Connor was sin-binned, increasing the pressure on an already overworked Light Blues defence, and Corkman Wycherley, who only turned 20 last month, showed his ball-carrying ability with a barnstorming charge to score Munsters’ third try with 62 minutes on the clock.

Airey tagged on the extras for a 25-0 scoreline and that is how it stayed as the Cookies were unable to add a final gloss in the form of a bonus point score. Still, the vocal home supporters went home happy with Young Munster cutting the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Garryowen in the table to four points.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Conor Hayes; Niall Kelly, Jack Harrington, Jason Kiely, Craig O’Hanlon; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; Gavin Ryan, Ger Slattery, Colm Skehan, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Diarmaid Dee, Dan Walsh, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Fineen Wycherley, Ben Kilkenny, Alan Tynan.

GARRYOWEN: David Johnston; James McInerney, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, Peadar Collins, Andrew O’Byrne; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, JP Phelan, Andy Keating, Tim Ferguson, Dean Moore, Mark Rowley, Mikey Wilson, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Diarmaid Barron, Barry McNamara, Sean O’Connor, Jack Daly, Liam Coombes.