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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

While unbeaten Lansdowne continue to set an unmatched pace at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, there is very little to choose between the clubs gathering below them with Young Munster’s 25-16 victory at Clontarf the standout result last Saturday.



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Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Dave Fanagan 2; Con: Conor Dean; Pens: Sean Kearns 2
Cork Constitution: Tries: Joe White, Rob Jermyn; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2

HT: St. Mary’s College 6 Cork Constitution 8

A brace of second half tries from outstanding full-back Dave Fanagan helped St. Mary’s College claim a much-needed 18-16 win over defending champions Cork Constitution in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League last Saturday.

Second-placed Constitution were course to win this physically gruelling encounter when leading 16-6 on the hour mark. However, Mary’s and Fanagan had other ideas and their late rally saw them come out on top to avenge November’s narrow defeat on Leeside when they were denied by Tomas Quinlan’s last-minute penalty.

In the rematch at Templeville Road, Peter Burke’s Mary’s side broke the deadlock in the 10th minute thanks to out-half Sean Kearns’ beautifully-struck 40-metre penalty. Con turned down a kickable shot but after their lineout maul failed to produce a try, the hosts doubled their lead with a second penalty from Kearns.

Nonetheless, Con’s challenge came to life in the second quarter as forward pressure and a series of powerful drives gave them significant attacking momentum. The industrious Aidan Moynihan knocked over a penalty from in front of the posts, and the visitors’ persistence paid off as they created space on the left wing for Rob Jermyn to sprint over for an unconverted try.

Mary’s turned around for the second half with an 8-6 deficit and facing into a stiff breeze. They fell further behind courtesy of a routine penalty from Moynihan. Heading towards the final quarter, some brilliant interplay between Moynihan and replacement Michael Clune put full-back Joe White over for Con’s second try out wide.

Crucially, Moynihan was unable to convert and this missed kick had a bigger bearing on the outcome than anyone could have anticipated. Suddenly, with 15 minutes remaining, man-of-the-match Fanagan powered over the line after breaking through a Con tackle, offering his side a new lease of life in the process.

The pacy full-back repeated the trick at the end of a prolonged move just five minutes later, and replacement Conor Dean, who is part of Noel McNamara’s Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad, stepped up to convert and sensationally fire Mary’s back in front.

Con were now desperately searching for a response, but thanks to a superb defensive effort in a nerve-wracking climax, the Dubliners held on for a result which moves them out of the bottom two. The Corkmen remain second in the table as two of their top-four rivals, Clontarf and Terenure College, also lost in round 11.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Dave Fanagan; Craig Kennedy, Darren Moroney, Marcus O’Driscoll, Myles Carey; Sean Kearns, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Cathal O’Flaherty, David O’Connor, Ronan Watters, Jack Dilger.

Replacements: Hugo Kean, Emmet Ferron, Nick McCarthy, Robbie Glynn, Conor Dean.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Joe White; Liam O’Connell, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Joe McSwiney, Graeme Lawler, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Vincent O’Brien, Peter Kelliher, Sean Duffy, Tomas Quinlan, Michael Clune.

Scorers: Terenure College: Try: Robbie Smyth; Pen: Mark O’Neill
Lansdowne: Tries: Josh O’Rourke, Tyrone Moran; Con: Scott Deasy

HT: Terenure College 5 Lansdowne 7

With the three teams directly below them all suffering defeats, unbeaten Lansdowne grasped the opportunity to enhance their standing at the top of Division 1A following a bruising 12-8 victory away to third-placed Terenure College.

Mike Ruddock’s men are now 16 points clear at the summit and will have home advantage in the league semi-finals – barring a big collapse in the final third of the regular season. They chalked up win number 12 at Lakelands Park as influential forwards Josh O’Rourke and Tyrone Moran touched down late on in either half.

However, it was undoubtedly their toughest game of the campaign as Terenure pushed them all the way and did their utmost to end Lansdowne’s proud winning record. Playing with the elements first, the headquarters club started quite nervously and much early possession was turned over due to a combination of knock-ons, lineout malfunctions and a spoiling Terenure defence.

Terenure took on the visiting forwards and forced a series of penalties – the first half count was 9-2 in their favour – which helped frustrate the table toppers. Lansdowne’s inability to get on top up front and regular concession of penalties meant that they were unable to generate any momentum with the wind at their backs, and their frustration was apparent.

Two early lineout chances close to the Terenure line were squandered, and it was the home side who took advantage of two successive penalties to set up a driving maul close to the visitors’ line. Having consulted with his touch judge, referee Eddie Hogan O’Connell awarded ‘Nure a try halfway out, hooker and captain Robbie Smith adjudged to have scored from a 22nd-minute maul.

After a missed conversion, Lansdowne slowly began to improve their ball retention and control. In the 35th minute, following a lineout seven metres out, second row O’Rourke powered over the whitewash for the levelling try. Out-half Scott Deasy converted, and the visitors had their noses in front at half-time – 7-5.

Terenure winger Jake Swaine was yellow carded in the build-up to the Lansdowne try, but the elements were such a leveller that it was difficult to craft any particular advantage from the extra man. Indeed, Lansdowne scrum half Alan Bennie soon joined Swaine in the sin-bin and ‘Nure out-half Mark O’Neill landed the resulting penalty to snatch an 8-7 lead.

Slowly, however, and driven by number 8 Willie Earle, the Lansdowne pack began to win the arm wrestle up front. Earle was ably assisted by tighthead and captain Ian Prendiville, O’Rourke, hooker Moran and Charlie Butterworth on the flank, in particular.

Scoring opportunities were still at a premium, though, as both sides defended stoutly. Lansdowne went up through the gears, and were helped by the impact of their bench, Oisin Dowling and Ntinga Mpiko especially, in setting up attacking chances as they pummelled the Terenure line.

This was reflected in the penalty count, as it began to shift in their direction – the second half count was 8-7 in Lansdowne’s favour. The visitors encamped in the home 22, and a series of close-in pick and go drives and mauls put huge pressure on the Terenure defence. After several minutes of intense pressure, Moran surged over the line with 70 minutes on the clock.

Deasy was unlucky with his low-driven conversion attempt, which came back off the upright. Terenure are a never-say-die side, and they came back strongly in an effort to snatch a result. This time it was Lansdowne’s chance to show their sterling defensive qualities as they repelled everything the hosts could throw at them. In the end, and based on their second half performance, Lansdowne deserved their narrow win.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Matt Byrne; Jake Swaine, Stephen O’Neill, Marc Hiney, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O’Neill, Tim Schmidt; Schalk Jooste, Robbie Smyth (capt), Oisin Heffernan, Michael Melia, Alex Thompson, Harrison Brewer, Cathal Deans, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Robert Duke, James Thornton, James O’Donoghue.

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, Jack Dwan, Aaron Conneely, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.

Replacements: JJ Earle, Ntinga Mpiko, Oisin Dowling, Gareth Molloy, Mark O’Keefe.

Scorers: Clontarf: Try: James McKeown; Con: David Joyce; Pens: David Joyce 3
Young Munster: Tries: Gavin Coombes, Dan Goggin, Alan Kennedy; Cons: Alan Tynan 2; Pens: Alan Tynan 2

HT: Clontarf 6 Young Munster 18

Clontarf’s disappointing start to 2018 continued on Saturday when they went down 25-16 to a fired-up Young Munster side who triumphed on Castle Avenue’s 4G pitch to gain some revenge for last year’s semi-final defeat at the same venue.

Munsters outscored ‘Tarf by three tries to one with Gavin Coombes, Dan Goggin, who made a welcome return to league action after a knee injury, and captain Alan Kennedy all touching down for Gearoid Prendergast’s charges who have climbed back into the top half of the Division 1A table.

They put crucial distance between themselves and the north Dubliners by moving 18-6 clear for half-time. Clontarf led twice early on thanks to a brace of penalties from Tullamore man David Joyce who returned from injury for the hosts.

Coombes seized a try-scoring opportunity near the corner and his run out to the right was spotted by scrum half Jack Lyons, who supplied the scoring pass for the number 8 to crash over past two covering defenders. That score closed the gap to 6-5, towards the end of the first quarter.

Young full-back Alan Tynan booted a penalty to start a 13-point scoring blitz in the lead up to the interval. Again, the Cookies’ pack laid the platform, putting the pressure on in the 22 before good hands from Lyons, Diarmaid Dee and Shane Airey put centre Goggin into space and there was no stopping him on a 15-metre burst to the line.

Tynan added the extras to that 27th minute try and also sent a second penalty through the uprights to open up 12-point advantage. Having suffered a 30-point defeat to leaders Lansdowne last time out, Clontarf were staring at another frustrating result against one of their top-four rivals.

The north Dubliners had the better of the third quarter, though, as young winger James McKeown raced over from the left wing for a converted try. The move began with quick passing off a scrum on the right, as Sam Cronin and Joyce combined with Matt D’Arcy whose looping pass invited Jack Power forward and he drew in a defender and released McKeown who showed impressive pace in round in close to the posts.

A subsequent Joyce penalty made it a two-point game again – 18-16 – but just when it seemed that the momentum was behind Andy Wood’s men, Munsters built for a decisive finish. Their ability to retain possession through an incredible 47 phases eventually wore the home defence down for second row Kennedy to power over from close range. Tynan’s conversion took the losing bonus point away from ‘Tarf, bringing to an end a pulsating performance which suggests that the Cookies can make the semi-finals for the fourth successive year.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Ariel Robles, Conor O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, James McKeown; David Joyce, Sam Cronin; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Royce Burke-Flynn, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Neil Reilly, Michael Noone.

Replacements: Jonathon Larbey, Vincent Gavin, Ken Knaggs, Andrew Feeney, Conor Kelly.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Craig O’Hanlon, Jack Harrington, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash; 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, Marc Kelly, Ben Kilkenny, Jason Kiely.

UCD 17 BUCCANEERS 14, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Sean McNulty, Alex Penny, Brian Cawley; Con: Ciaran Frawley
Buccaneers: Tries: Ben Carty, Shane Layden; Cons: Luke Carty 2

HT: UCD 12 Buccaneers 0

UCD staved off a late revival from bottom side Buccaneers to end their four-match losing streak with a 17-14 success at the Belfield Bowl.

Winless since beating Buccs 19-13 in Athlone back in November, the students were without a number of their Ireland Under-20 and Sevens internationals for the return fixture. However, they were on course for a return to winning ways when leading 12-0 at half-time.

In drizzly conditions and facing a strong diagonal breeze, the Pirates were the better side initially. They defended comfortably for the opening quarter until conceding a penalty which earned UCD a first visit into Buccs 22. A fumble by Buccaneers was fastened onto by the students who promptly capitalised to open the scoring with Alex Penny’s 16th-minute try. The conversion from wide on the left by Ciaran Frawley went over via an upright for a 7-0 lead.

UCD gained a further promising foothold from another penalty nine minutes later and, following a quick tap and go by ex-Bucc Stephen McVeigh, College earned another penalty which they punted to touch in the right corner. From the lineout, they drove over for an unconverted try by hooker Sean McNulty.
In the closing stages of the first half, Buccaneers upped their efforts and camped close to the home line for a lengthy spell but just could not get the final move to break staunch defending by Andy Skehan’s charges who led 12-0 at the turnover.
The breeze died down considerably for the third quarter and UCD showed their more clinical finishing touch when, after another fine maul by their pack, Patrick Patterson’s sniping break was finished off by the stretching frame of Brian Cawley for an unconverted 49th-minute try. It was a memorable day for Cawley as both he and team-mates Emmet McMahon and Stephen Fletcher were presented with medals to mark them reaching the 100-cap milestone in College colours.
Despite leaking a third try, the Athlone side regained their momentum to pin back the hosts for the final quarter. UCD replacement Gordon Frayne’s 56th minute sin-binning for a wild tackle was immediately punished by Buccs.

Peter Claffey’s strong carry made good ground for the midlanders and when the ball was switched right to left, centre Ben Carty dived over the UCD line for a 57th minute try. Luke Carty added an excellent touchline conversion and the contest finally ratcheted up a few notches.
A couple of lengthy stoppages when referee Rob O’Sullivan had discussions with the UCD coaches on the sideline resulted in uncontested scrums for the remainder of the game. Arguably this also hindered the momentum of the Pirates’ revival, although they battled on with captain Shane Layden driving over for a 71st minute try, which Luke Carty converted to set up a grandstand finish.
However, UCD hung on for a crucial home triumph despite a fine second half effort from Darin Claasen’s men. College, who visit Clontarf next Saturday, were deserving winners as Buccaneers made too many errors for their own good.

UCD: Steven Kilgallen; Rob Keenan, Jamie Glynn (capt), Gavin Mullin, Colm Mulcahy; Ciaran Frawley, Patrick Patterson; Rory Mulvihill, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Emmet McMahon, Keelan McKenna, Ronan Foley, Alex Penny, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Michael Moynihan, Brian Cawley, Oisin O’Meara, Matthew Gilsenan.

BUCCANEERS: Josh Rowland; Darragh Corbett, Shane Layden (capt), Ben Carty, Rory O’Connor; Luke Carty, Graham Lynch; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Ryan O’Meara, Ruairi Byrne, Peter Claffey, Cian Romaine, Daniel Law, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Rory Grenham, Brian Diffley, Evan Galvin, Frankie Hopkins, Alan Gaughan.