Thrilling Friday night derby wins for Shannon and leaders Cork Constitution, coupled with Garryowen’s hard-fought defeat of defending champions Lansdowne on Saturday, were the highlights of a memorable second round in Division 1A.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 13
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GARRYOWEN 17 LANSDOWNE 14, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Liam Cronin, Sean Rennison; Cons: Peadar Collins 2; Pen: Peadar Collins
Lansdowne: Try: James Rael; Pens: Scott Deasy 3
HT: Garryowen 7 Lansdowne 9
Reigning champions Lansdowne suffered their second successive defeat of the new All-Ireland League campaign as they went down 17-14 to Garryowen at a wet and greasy Dooradoyle on Saturday afternoon.
With Lansdowne floored by a flurry of yellow cards, tireless number 8 Sean Rennison ran in a late match-winning try for Conan Doyle’s men, who gained some revenge for last season’s semi-final defeat to the headquarters club.
It is the second year in a row that the Light Blues have claimed Lansdowne’s scalp on their Limerick patch. The latter’s run to the title saw them lose just twice during the regular 2017/18 season, and with two on the bounce now it is a real test of the champions’ mettle.
Three penalties from out-half Scott Deasy after 13, 36 and 43 minutes had Lansdowne leading 9-7 at half-time, but this was scant reward for their lion’s share of possession and territory and their forwards’ ability to win scrum penalties. A less adventurous game-plan and more kicks to the corners might have paid dividends, as possession was at times proving a liability due to the testing conditions.
From their first visit to Lansdowne territory, Garryowen hooker Liam Cronin – a bother of Leinster and Ireland star Sean – grabbed the hosts’ try from a monster 33rd-minute lineout maul. The game was there for the taking with both sides redoubling their efforts for an intriguing second half.
The difficult conditions were having an impact as Garryowen lost their number 10 Jamie Gavin to a head injury following a heavy tackle. A Peadar Collins penalty, four minutes in, nudged the home side back in front before Lansdowne gave them a taste of their own medicine.
The Dubliners’ maul came up trumps as replacement hooker James Rael, a former Garryowen player, was able to muscle over in with 66 minutes on the clock. Deasy’s conversion was off target and it was Garryowen who duly regained the initiative and steeled themselves for a big finish.
The Light Blues set up camp in the 22, forcing a number of penalties and setting up lineout opportunities. Lansdowne’s indiscipline led to referee Dan Carson sending Willie Earle, Deasy and Rael to the sin-bin in quick succession, leaving the visitors with only a dozen players.
They put in a heroic defensive display but the dam eventually burst when Garryowen moved lineout possession to one wing and switch it back to the other where Lansdowne were stretched and Rennison took full advantage. Collins converted with the final kick of an absorbing game.
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, Niall Horan, Scott Leahy, Evan Maher, Ben Healy, Mike O’Donnell, Dave O’Mahony.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, Tyrone Moran, Greg McGrath, Willie Earle, Jack Dwan, Joe O’Brien, Aaron Conneely, Jack O’Sullivan.
Replacements: James Rael, Ian Prendiville, Tom Murphy, Gareth Molloy, Adam Leavy.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 23 UCD 23, College Park
Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Colm Hogan, Bart Vermeulen; Cons: James Fennelly 2; Pens: James Fennelly 3
UCD: Tries: Tom Treacy, Ronan Foley; Cons: Cillian Burke 2; Pens: Cillian Burke 3
HT: Dublin University 13 UCD 10
Full-back Cillian Burke’s injury-time penalty earned UCD a share of the spoils in a 23-all draw with arch rivals Dublin University at a rain-soaked College Park.
Trinity’s new-look team, who impressed many by running Garryowen very close last week, were on the cusp of victory having built up a 23-13 lead after 69 minutes. However, UCD stormed back with a levelling 10 points and were hugely relieved when Burke’s opposite number Robert Russell missed a huge penalty effort right at the death.
The heavy downpour ensured it was an attritional contest, although the hosts admirably sought to bring wingers Hugh Twomey and Colm Hogan into play as much as possible. Twomey was squeezed out on the right before out-half James Fennelly kicked Trinity in front with a seventh-minute penalty. He soon added a second successful kick from a tight angle.
Despite struggling early on for possession, UCD grew into the first half and grabbed the game’s first try in the 28th minute. Following a series of drives, lock Tom Treacy dotted down for a Burke-converted score, but Trinity responded just past the half hour mark when captain Hogan chased down his own kick and gathered it on the hoof, beating the cover to run in an excellent solo try which Fennelly converted.
Burke’s first penalty of the afternoon closed the gap to 13-0 for half-time, only for Trinity to steal a march on the resumption with a 55th minute try from powerful prop Bart Vermeulen, who crossed to the left of the posts following a Russell break from deep. Vermeulen saw yellow 15 minutes from the end, and although Burke nailed the resulting penalty, Fennelly replied soon after to increase his haul to 13 points.
Crucially, UCD made their numerical advantage count with a second try from the forwards, a spell of relentless pressure ending with Leinster ‘A’ number 8 Ronan Foley touching down for the second week running.
Burke converted and landed the second of two penalty attempts – Trinity were pinged for failing to release the ball in their 22 – to bring the Belfield side level. That is how it stayed despite Russell’s booming strike which fell just short of the posts.
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, Paddy Nulty, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Dan Sheahan, Thomas Clarkson, Cian O’Dwyer, Tomas Killeen, James Moriarty, Giuseppe Coyne, Conor Dunne.
UCD: Cillian Burke; Tim Carroll, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Rob Keenan; Matthew Gilsenan, Nick Peters, Sam Griffin, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Brian Cawley, Tom Treacy, Stephen McVeigh, Alex Penny (capt), Ronan Foley.
Replacements: Richie Bergin, Evin Coyle, Jonny Guy, Tom Foley, Ian O’Kelly.
TERENURE COLLEGE 15 CLONTARF 24, Lakelands Park
Scorers: Terenure College: Tries: Marc Hiney, Sam Coghlan Murray; Con: James Thornton; Pen: James Thornton
Clontarf: Tries: Michael Noone, Ivan Soroka, Angus Lloyd; Cons: David Joyce 3; Pen: David Joyce
HT: Terenure College 3 Clontarf 17
Clontarf are shaping up as one of the teams to beat in All-Ireland League Division 1A after they made it two wins out of two by taking a 24-15 verdict at Terenure College.
‘Tarf’s beefy pack was made for the difficult weather conditions at Lakelands Park where converted tries from captain Michael Noone, Ivan Soroka and Angus Lloyd saw them keep pace with Cork Constitution at the top of the table.
Terenure had their moments in the first half but the visitors led 17-3 by half-time, with Noone’s initial try followed by Soroka’s effort, which saw the young loosehead pick from a close-in ruck to score by the posts after fellow prop Royce Burke-Flynn had bulldozed up close to the line.
With out-half David Joyce continuing to split the posts from the tee, the north Dubliners put 21 points between the sides when former Munster and Ulster scrum half Lloyd ran an excellent support line to break clear for his first league try in Clontarf colours.
Beaten 22-5 last week by Young Munster, Terenure were staring at another disappointing result until they found some rhythm in attack as their own pack took up the baton and their backs, including Sam Coghlan Murray who came in on the wing following Matthew Byrne’s unavailability to start, began to cause problems albeit with some errors along the way.
Centre Marc Hiney and Coghlan Murray both crossed the whitewash, the latter breaking through via a lovely inside pass, to raise hopes of a ‘Nure comeback – or at least a losing bonus point – but time ran out on them and Clontarf were worthy winners.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Sam Dardis; Sam Coghlan Murray, Stephen O’Neill, Marc Hiney, Harry Moore; James Thornton, Kevin O’Neill; Tiarnan Creagh, Adam Clarkin, Conor McCormack, Aaron Ryan, Michael Melia (capt), Kyle McCoy, Stephen Caffrey, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Liam McMahon, Karl O’Brien, Risteard Byrne, Jamie Glynn, Erik Wijten.
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, Martin Kelly, Andrew Feeney, Conor Kelly.
SHANNON 23 YOUNG MUNSTER 10, Thomond Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Nathan Randles, Will Leonard, Jamie McGarry; Con: Jake Flannery; Pens: Jake Flannery 2
Young Munster: Try: Clayton Stewart; Con: Clayton Stewart; Pen: Clayton Stewart
HT: Shannon 15 Young Munster 10
Shannon made a big statement of intent by overcoming local rivals Young Munster in a keenly-contested Limerick derby on Thomond Park’s main pitch on Friday night.
It was Shannon’s first win in the top flight since 2013 and showed what Tom Hayes’ young side are capable of, holding one of the perennial play-off contenders scoreless in the second half.
Munsters, who had beaten Terenure 22-5 in the opening round, knew they were in for a battle when Shannon’s teenage out-half Jake Flannery sent over a cross-field kick for winger Nathan Randles to touch down in the seventh minute.
The Cookies’ new Kiwi number 10 Clayton Stewart hit the post with his first penalty of the night, but a superb run from full-back Shane Airey and pass out of the tackle played in Stewart for an 18th minute try which he converted from straight in front.
He doubled their lead to 10-5 with a penalty ten minutes later, only for Shannon to storm back with their first try on the half hour mark. It came from a Jamie McGarry-led counter attack with centre Will Leonard’s brilliant footwork taking him around a couple of defenders and he had the strength and speed to finish.
Flannery converted and tagged on a penalty on the stroke of half-time for a 15-10 advantage for the home side. McGarry made it over in the corner in the 51st minute, following up on good work and handling from Aran Hehir, Robbie Deegan and Leonard.
A 71st-minute penalty from Flannery put the result beyond doubt, as Munsters’ advances forward were met by some bone-crunching tackles from Shannon captain Lee Nicholas and Charlie Carmody, who put a tremendous shift at openside.
Despite missing out on a late bonus point from a maul opportunity, a delighted Hayes told SRTV afterwards: “It was a huge occasion for us, first time back in a Limerick derby after a while away from them at this level in 1A. Hopefully the boys will take the belief that they should take out of it, in our ability to compete at this level. So hopefully we’ll be able to build on that going forward.
“We’ve cut down on the unforced errors that we were making. There wasn’t any real panic stations out of us with the losses over the last couple of weeks. We were still in full belief that things would come right for us if we apply ourselves properly in the game, and I think we showed that tonight.”
SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Nathan Randles, Robbie Deegan, Will Leonard, Eathon Moloney; Jake Flannery, Aran Hehir; Conor Glynn, Ty Chan, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Jade Kriel, Lee Nicholas (capt), Charlie Carmody, Luke Clohessy.
Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Sam Karlsen, Luke Moylan, Keith Kavanagh, Ger Finucane.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; Ed O’Keeffe, Derek Corcoran, Evan O’Gorman, Darragh O’Neill; Clayton Stewart, Mark Edwards; Conor Bartley, Billy Scannell, Colm Skehan, Oisin Walsh, Alan Kennedy (capt), Diarmaid Dee, Conor Mitchell, John Foley.
Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Gavin Ryan, Tom Goggin, Jason Kiely, Luke Fitzgerald.
UCC 18 CORK CONSTITUTION 20, the Mardyke (played on Friday)
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Murray Linn, Michael Clune; Con: James Taylor; Pens: James Taylor 2
Cork Constitution: Tries: Vincent O’Brien, Jason Higgins, Greg Higgins; Con: Aidan Moynihan; Pen: Aidan Moynihan
HT: UCC 3 Cork Constitution 15
Greg Higgins’ 76th-minute try proved decisive for Cork Constitution as they edged out UCC 20-18 in a cracking Division 1A derby clash at the Mardyke on Friday.
Cork Con outscored their local rivals by three tries to two, doing most of the damage in the first half before the students, who are coached by former Con player and boss Brian Walsh, turned the game into a real cliffhanger.
Hooker Vincent O’Brien’s maul try in the tenth minute made the early breakthrough for the visitors, but UCC’s robust scrum earned a penalty which out-half James Taylor fired over for a 5-3 scoreline.
The Con eight returned the favour at set piece time and Aidan Moynihan mopped up with the three points. With John Poland and Cian Bohane both prominent, UCC exerted a good deal of pressure but a try remained frustratingly out of reach.
Indeed, Constitution pulled the home defence apart when a free-flowing move saw Moynihan throw a dummy to go through a gap, and although he was tackled, he was able to slip an offload to his half-back partner Jason Higgins who slid over to the right of the posts.
The conversion left it at 15-3 at the break, but UCC roared back in the third quarter with 15 unanswered points. A Taylor penalty was followed by a slick try, scrum half Poland attacking the blindside of a scrum and feeding winger Murray Linn who finished superbly in the corner, bouncing off a couple of defenders.
The momentum swung further in UCC’s favour when replacement Michael Clune pounced on a loose ball to touch down in the 52nd minute, with Taylor converting for an 18-15 turnaround.
The first Cork derby in the top flight had a grandstand finish and it went Con’s way. The introduction of Gary Bradley at scrum half saw their attack pick up again, and some impressive handling out to the left sent centre Greg Higgins over in the corner for the match-winning try.
Cork Con head coach Brian Hickey told Irish Rugby TV afterwards: “It was very similar to the recent Munster Senior Cup game where we trailed and came back late to win. I think that showed great character in the team. I was delighted that we showed the character and composure to come back.
“Both teams served up great fare really. The second half particularly. I think Dolphin was the last Cork derby in Division 1A, maybe five seasons ago now. Certainly I think it’s great for the supporters.”
Hickey’s UCC counterpart Walsh commented: “It’s been attritional to date. The big challenge for us is not necessarily the rugby – it’s the physicality. We’ve scored points and we’ve played well, but we do have some catch up to do on the conditioning side to be able to compete in the top half of this division. Certainly that’s the plan over the next while.”
UCC: Richard Walsh; Adam O’Connor, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Murray Linn; James Taylor, John Poland; Bryan O’Connor, Paidi McCarthy, Darragh Fitzgerald, Andrew Davies, Mark Bissessar, Darragh Moloney, Lee McSherry, Daire Feeney.
Replacements: Travis Coomey, OJ Onolememem, Brian O’Mahony, Lewis Grice, Michael Clune.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Greg Higgins, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Cathal O’Flaherty, Joe McSwiney, Evan Mintern, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Doug Abbott, Gregory Roche, Conor Kindregan, Sean Duffy, Gary Bradley.