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All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 1 Review

All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 1 Review

There were five home wins in the opening round of All-Ireland League Division 1A, with Cork Constitution, last season’s beaten finalists, and five-try UCD leading the early charge, and title holders Lansdowne suffering a losing start at the hands of Clontarf.


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Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: JJ O’Neill, Niall Kenneally 2, Rob Jermyn; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 2; Pen: Aidan Moynihan
Shannon: Try: Ty Chan; Con: Jake Flannery

HT: Cork Constitution 3 Shannon 7

Shannon were unable to mark their return to All-Ireland League Division 1A after a five-year absence with a win as last season’s beaten finalists Cork Constitution won a fiercely competitive Munster derby 27-7 at Temple Hill.

Four second half tries, including a brace from Cork Con’s powerful centre and captain Niall Kenneally, saw Brian Hickey’s men head straight to the top of the table. It was a game effort from Tom Hayes’ young Shannon side but Con were clinical in their finishing as the game wore on.

Play sung between both halves in a fast-paced and very competitive first half. Constitution were quicker out of the blocks, winning a 21st minute penalty which out-half Aidan Moynihan stuck over from 30 metres out. They failed to capitalise on a Joe McSwiney break, though, and Shannon struck back before the break.

Con flanker Evan Mintern saw yellow for a pull-back after Shannon’s Conor Glynn got a boot to the ball, and although the hosts stole the subsequent lineout, a charge-down led to Shannon captain Lee Nicholas sending hooker Ty Chan over for a 32nd minute try, converted by teenage out-half Jake Flannery.

Constitution were down to 13 men after their number 8 Luke Cahill was sin-binned as Shannon went wide in a dangerous late attack. However, Hickey’s side held out to keep the deficit at 7-3 for the interval. The Leesiders duly regrouped and landed a crucial blow six minutes into the second period, moving possession wide from a lineout for winger JJ O’Neill to finish off a brilliant try in the corner.

Moynihan converted and Con’s lead was soon out to 17-7, a penalty at the breakdown launching them forward in the 49th minute and a switch off a lineout between scrum half Gary Bradley, son of former Ireland international Michael Bradley, saw Kenneally cut back in and use the forwards to propel himself over the line.

A costly turnover in the 71st minute saw Shannon leak a third try as winger Rob Jermyn darted over on the blindside. Last year’s Division 1B champions pressed for a late consolation score, led by their talismanic skipper Nicholas, but Kenneally intercepted a pass off a Shannon maul to charge clear out of his 22 and all the way to the whitewash for an 80th-minute bonus point.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Greg Higgins, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Gary Bradley; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Joe McSwiney, Evan Mintern, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Douglas Abbott, Gregory Roche, Sonny Dwyer, Richard Cassidy, Jack Costigan.

SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Nathan Randles, Robbie Deegan, Will Leonard, Eathon Moloney; Jake Flannery, Aran Hehir; Sam Karlsen, Ty Chan, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Jade Kriel, Lee Nicholas (capt), Kelvin Brown, Luke Clohessy.

Replacements: Owen Scully, Conor Glynn, Odhran Ring, Keith Kavanagh, Ger Finucane.

– Photos by Dermot Lynch Photography

UCD 39 UCC 28, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Sean McNulty, Ronan Foley, Sam Griffin, Stephen McVeigh, Penalty try; Cons: Conall Doherty 3, Pen try con; Pens: Conall Doherty 2
UCC: Tries: Ryan Murphy, James Taylor, Cian Barry, John Poland; Cons: James Taylor 4

HT: UCD 13 UCC 7

UCD produced a strong second half performance to finally get the better of newly-promoted UCC on a 39-28 scoreline at the Belfield Bowl.

Nine tries were scored in a pulsating Division 1A derby between the student sides, who were also competing to be this season’s first holders of the Dudley Cup in the long-standing University competition’s new Ranfurly Shield-style format.

Adding to the intrigue surrounding this game was Paul Kiernan’s debut in the UCD midfield. A son of former Munster and Ireland legend Michael Kiernan, Paul captained UCC to their historic promotion from Division 1B last season and has since switched colleges to study in Dublin for his Masters degree.

UCC enjoyed a bright start with former Munster centre Cian Bohane and highly-rated out-half James Taylor breaking forward at pace. Handling errors prevented them from building sustained momentum in attack, and some excellent set piece work in the 17th minute saw UCD full-back Conall Doherty open the scoring with a well-struck penalty.

Taylor narrowly missed his first two shots at the posts after the Cork side’s powerful pack had secured successive penalties. Their attack clicked soon after as Bohane went close at the end of a lung-bursting surge and the recycled ball was moved left for number 8 Ryan Murphy to touch down.

After Taylor’s superb touchline conversion made it 7-3, UCD turned down a kickable penalty and the ensuing lineout maul sent hooker Sean McNulty over for Doherty to convert. The latter added a 25-metre penalty for a 13-7 half-time lead, but Taylor responded with a classy 49th-minute try, sidestepping a final defender to go in under the posts.

The play began to open up even more, UCD number 8 Ronan Foley showing his engine to make the line for their second try with Doherty again converting. Andy Skehan’s charges then pressed from a 56th-minute lineout, working the ball back infield for prop Sam Griffin to supply the finishing touches to a patient move.

UCC lock Cian Barry used one of their own lineout drives to get on the scoresheet, with Taylor kicking them back into losing bonus point territory at 27-21 down. It was then UCD’s turn to settle the issue, a well-executed maul drawing a penalty try before flanker Stephen McVeigh added try number five, reaching over at the end of a sweeping attack.

Nonetheless, UCC’s hard work was deservedly rewarded with a late try-scoring bonus point – their first point in the top flight – when scrum half John Poland, who was on the Munster ‘A’ bench on Friday night, nipped over at the end of a pacy move out towards the right wing.

UCD: Conall Doherty; Tim Carroll, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Rob Keenan; Matthew Gilsenan, Nick Peters; Sam Griffin, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Emmet MacMahon, Tom Treacy, Stephen McVeigh, Alex Penny (capt), Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Richie Bergin, Evin Coyle, Jonny Guy, Tom Foley, Ian O’Kelly.

UCC: Richard Walsh; Adam O’Connor, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Murray Linn; James Taylor, John Poland; Cathal Dennehy, Travis Coomey, Bryan O’Connor, Mark Bissessar, Cian Barry, Darragh Moloney, Cian Fitzgerald, Ryan Murphy.

Replacements: Darragh Fitzgerald, Paidi McCarthy, Brian O’Mahony, Daire Feeney, Michael Clune.

Scorers: Young Munster: Try: Darragh O’Neill; Con: Clayton Stewart; Pens: Clayton Stewart 5
Terenure College: Try: Mark O’Neill

HT: Young Munster 6 Terenure College 5

Division 1A debutant Clayton Stewart kicked Young Munster to a well-judged 22-5 first round victory over Terenure College, who were top-four finishers and beaten semi-finalists in Division 1A last season.

New Zealander Stewart, who transferred from Nenagh Ormond in the summer, donned the Cookies number 10 jersey for the first time in league action and immediately drew the admiration of the Greenfields faithful with a handsome 17-point haul – five penalties and the conversion of Darragh O’Neill’s second half try.

Led by captain Alan Kennedy, Munsters’ dominance in the forwards paved the way for Stewart’s place-kicking opportunities and he had them 6-0 up after 16 minutes, and with Terenure down to 14 men. Try-scoring chances were few and far between but out-half Mark O’Neill lifted ‘Nure with a neatly-taken unconverted effort to close the gap to 6-5 for half-time.

However, the Dubliners, who included former UCD scrum half Jamie Glynn on the bench, continued to be punished for their indiscipline as the workmanlike Cookies ground out the result. Stewart right-footed penalties through the posts after 48, 64 and 72 minutes to give his new team a 10-point cushion entering the closing stages.

It was left to fleet-footed winger O’Neill, who has returned to Tom Clifford Park this season after playing for Thomond, to have the final say when running in a 76th minute try which Stewart topped off with his sixth successful kick of the afternoon.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; Ed O’Keeffe, Derek Corcoran, Evan O’Gorman, Darragh O’Neill; Clayton Stewart, Mark Edwards; Conor Bartley, Mark O’Mara, Colm Skehan, Oisin Walsh, Alan Kennedy (capt), Diarmaid Dee, Dan Walsh, John Foley.

Replacements: Billy Scannell, Gavin Ryan, Conor Mitchell, Luke Fitzgerald, Jason Kiely.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Sam Dardis, Stephen O’Neill, Marc Hiney, Harry Moore; Mark O’Neill, Kevin O’Neill; Cian Madden, Adam Clarkin, Conor McCormack, Aaron Ryan, Michael Melia (capt), Kyle McCoy, Paddy Thornton, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Liam McMahon, Karl O’Brien, Risteard Byrne, James Thornton, Jamie Glynn.

Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Darren Ryan, Jamie Gavin, David McCarthy; Cons: Peadar Collins 3; Pens: Peadar Collins 2
Dublin University: Tries: Robert Russell 2, Colm Hogan; Cons: James Fennelly 2; Pens: James Fennelly 2

HT: Garryowen 10 Dublin University 13

A six-try shootout went Garryowen’s way – but only just – as they triumphed 27-25 over a new-look Dublin University side on the opening Saturday of the new All-Ireland League Division 1A campaign.

There was a big sigh of relief for the Light Blues following a tense conclusion at Dooradoyle. Trinity full-back Robert Russell scored a try right on the 80-minute mark, leaving James Fennelly, who had created the score with a beautifully-weighted chip kick, with a difficult conversion for the draw. The otherwise-impressive out-half sent his kick short, leaving Garryowen to celebrate a hard-earned victory.

Conan Doyle’s men trailed 13-3 early on as the students, who had lost a dozen players over the summer, got off to an encouraging start. Fennelly sandwiched a Peadar Collins penalty with two of his own before former Leinster Under-19 representative Russell surged onto a perfectly-timed offload from captain Colm Hogan to score his first league try.

Garryowen hit back with a 33rd minute try when they stole a Trinity lineout, five metres out, and flanker Darren Ryan touched down for centre Collins to convert, reducing the arrears to 13-10 ahead of referee Mark Patton’s half-time whistle.

The momentum was swinging towards the Limerick men when out-half Jamie Gavin crossed the whitewash just five minutes after the restart. Collins’ bonus kick made it 17-13 and with former Trinity favourite Andy Keating continuing to help the hosts win scrum penalties, Garryowen looked well set to kick on.

Showing no signs of wavering, the students’ hard running and clever angles exposed some gaps in the home defence and a terrific team try – sparked by James Hickey’s break and finished off by Hogan, the former Ireland Under-20 international – edged Tony Smeeth’s youngsters back in front in the 65th minute. Collins kicked Garryowen level three minutes later, setting up a grandstand finish.

The scrum penalties caught up with Trinity who lost tighthead Dylan Doyle to the sin-bin at a crucial stage. Garryowen duly heaped pressure on at a lineout maul before young centre David McCarthy found a way through the overworked defence, five minutes from time. Collins’ conversion proved all-important as the 14-man visitors, who can take much from this performance, narrowly missed out on a last-gasp draw.

GARRYOWEN: Andrew O’Byrne; Jamie Heuston, Peadar Collins, David McCarthy, Cian O’Shea; Jamie Gavin, Rob Guerin; Ben Rowley, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Kevin Seymour, Dean Moore (capt), Tim Ferguson, Darren Ryan, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Anson Thai, Mike O’Donnell, Bailey Faloon, Evan Maher, Ben Swindlehirst, Jack Mullany, Daniel Hurley.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Robert Russell; Hugh Twomey, James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Colm Hogan (capt); James Fennelly, Rowan Osborne; Bart Vermeulen, Joe Horan, Dylan Doyle, Alex MacDonald, Arthur Greene, Patrick Nulty, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: William Jennings, Aziz Naser, Rory Clarke, Tomas Killeen, James Moriarty, Liam Turner, Jonathan McKeown.

CLONTARF 16 LANSDOWNE 3, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Matt D’Arcy, David Joyce; Pens: David Joyce 2
Lansdowne: Pen: Scott Deasy

HT: Clontarf 10 Lansdowne 0

First half tries from Matt D’Arcy and David Joyce catapulted Clontarf to a confidence-boosting 16-3 win over defending champions Lansdowne on Friday, the opening night of the All-Ireland League Division 1A season.

Considering Lansdowne lost only two league games last year, this was a big result for Clontarf in front of their vocal home support at Castle Avenue. Tullamore man David Joyce also landed two penalties during a bruising and defence-dominated second half.

An influx of Trinity players in the summer has bolstered ‘Tarf ranks with centre Michael Courtney and scrum half Angus Lloyd making their debuts last night. Former St. Mary’s lock David O’Connor was a late withdrawal for Lansdowne who watched Scott Deasy miss an early penalty, as did Joyce at the other end.

Welsh referee Mike English was a central figure throughout, issuing six yellow cards and blowing for 38 penalties during what was a stop-start contest. Clontarf flanker Tony Ryan was the first to be sin-binned in the 18th minute, before the Lansdowne backs strung together a superb sweeping move from 40 metres which ended with winger Daniel McEvoy touching down.

However, the score in the left corner was ruled out on advice from the touch judge, with a penalty award to Clontarf on their 10-metre line and O’Sullivan sin-binned for the infringement. With the fit-again Mick McGrath carrying well, ‘Tarf notched two unconverted tries in the space of ten minutes.

Lloyd broke through the middle and expertly drew the cover to send D’Arcy over for the first. Despite the try scorer seeing yellow for a high tackle soon after, the home side pushed on and Joyce took advantage of some hesitancy in the Lansdowne defence to score the second unconverted try on the 40-minute mark.

Aaron Conneely’s collision with the ball receiver from the restart resulted in another yellow card, leaving Lansdowne down to 13 men. They almost got a gift of a try when Clontarf lock Cormac Daly kicked the ball against a post in his attempt to boot it out, but the bouncing ball evaded the onrushing Lansdowne players.

Lansdowne were able to bully opposition in the scrum and maul last season but Clontarf’s heavier pack gave very little away, led by their robust front row and new captain Michael Noone. Joyce found his range with a penalty to make it 13-0, two minutes into the second period.

Deasy restored the 10-point gap with a successful place-kick six minutes later, but things unravelled for Lansdowne again when Joyce split the posts in the 55th minute following a penalty for offside, and referee English binned both Willie Earle and replacement Ntinga Mpiko in quick succession, leaving the visitors down to 13 men once more.

Play petered out during the final quarter, despite the best efforts of Lansdowne centre Mark O’Keeffe and captain Eamonn Mills in attack, as Clontarf earned their first victory in three meetings with Lansdowne, and in the process took out some of the frustration felt following their failure to make the play-offs almost six months ago.

CLONTARF: Mick McGrath; James McKeown, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Declan Adamson, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Connor Johnston, Tom Ryan, David Moore, Andrew Feeney, Conor Jennings.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Mark O’Keeffe, Fergal Cleary, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, James Rael, Ian Prendiville, Jack O’Sullivan, Willie Earle, Joe O’Brien, Aaron Conneely, William Fay.

Replacements: Tyrone Moran, Ntinga Mpiko, Tom Murphy, Gareth Molloy, Tom Roche.