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All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 5 Review

All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 5 Review

As we head towards the end of the first-third of the All-Ireland League Division 1A season, the play-off positions are filled by unbeaten leaders Clontarf, last year’s runners-up Cork Constitution, Division 1B title holders Shannon and defending top flight champions Lansdowne.


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Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: JJ O’Neill, Brian Scott, Rob Jermyn; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2
Garryowen: Pen: Peadar Collins

HT: Cork Constitution 13 Garryowen 3

Second-placed Cork Constitution proved too strong for Munster rivals Garryowen as Rob Jermyn’s late try sealed a 27-3 All-Ireland League victory in dull and windy conditions at Temple Hill this afternoon.

Brian Hickey’s men remain tucked in behind Division 1A leaders Clontarf, with a four-point gap to third-placed Shannon, after converted tries from wingers JJ O’Neill and Jermyn, coupled with a touchdown from Munster prop Brian Scott, saw them bounce back from last week’s loss at defending champions Lansdowne.

Garryowen’s errors and indiscipline, which contributed to their 31-19 home defeat to UCD last time out, were evident again as Constitution seized the initiative. A misplaced pass from the visitors led to Aidan Moynihan cleverly kicking through and O’Neill showed his pace to grab his fourth try of the campaign, to the right of the posts.

Facing into a strong wind, out-half Moynihan added the conversion and also slung over penalties after 23 and 28 minutes to open up a 13-point lead for the hosts. A well-struck penalty from 21-year-old centre Peadar Collins opened Garryowen’s account, closing the gap to 10 points for half-time.

There was further encouragement on the resumption for Conan Doyle’s side, who gave Munster’s Ronan O’Mahony a start at full-back as he continues his comeback from an ankle injury. However, mistakes cost Garryowen in possession again and the Con defence gained the upper-hand. There were big shifts up front from Gavin Duffy, Conor Kindregan and Luke Cahill.

Duffy’s fellow prop Scott powered over in the 63rd minute, putting 17 points between the sides after Moynihan’s straightforward conversion. Moynihan increased his influence with some astute tactical kicking, pinning the Light Blues back and the late pressure led to Jermyn crossing the whitewash. Garryowen’s third defeat in five rounds leaves them eighth overall, although a tightly-contested table means they only have six points to make up on Lansdowne, in fourth.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; JJ O’Neill, Jack Costigan, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Brian Scott, Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan, Kevin Sheahan, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Dylan Murphy, Patrick Casey, Joe McSwiney, Richard Cassidy, Billy Crowley.

GARRYOWEN: Ronan O’Mahony; Bryan Fitzgerald, Peadar Collins, Dave McCarthy, Cian O’Shea; Ben Swindlehurst, Rob Guerin; Mike O’Donnell, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Kevin Seymour, Tim Ferguson, Mikey Wilson, Jack Daly, Darren Ryan.

Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Fitzgerald, Dean Moore, John Hurley, Sean Rennison. 

SHANNON 31 UCC 20, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Lee Nicholas, Conor Fitzgerald, Luke Clohessy, Jack Stafford; Cons: Conor Fitzgerald 4; Pen: Conor Fitzgerald
UCC: Tries: John Poland 2, John Hodnett; Con: James Taylor; Pen: James Taylor

HT: Shannon 21 UCC 8

Fresh from playing for Connacht in the Challenge Cup, Conor Fitzgerald returned to club action with a 16-point salvo in Shannon’s 31-20 bonus point win over UCC, who also came up from Division 1B at the end of last season.

Fitzgerald scored 192 points in Shannon’s title-winning run in the second tier and he made his Division 1A debut this afternoon in the familiar surroundings of Thomond Park’s back pitch. The 21-year-old out-half lined out alongside his former Munster Academy colleague Jack Stafford, with Ennis starlet Ikem Ugwueru another notable inclusion on the right wing.

Three first half tries had Shannon well on the way to rebounding from last Saturday’s frustrating late defeat to leaders Clontarf. Second row and captain Lee Nicholas broke through from the back of a fifth-minute ruck for the opening try, converted by Fitzgerald.

Number 10 James Taylor drilled over a close range penalty to get UCC off the mark, but his opposite number Fitzgerald gave Shannon the ideal start to the second quarter. He was quickly in to intercept a pass off a scrum and race clear from the visitors’ 10-metre line, adding the conversion himself.

College lifted the pace with a tap-and-go and a 27th-minute break from Murray Linn, who linked with John Poland to send the Munster-capped scrum half over for an unconverted score. But UCC blundered from the restart, knocking on a deep kick from Fitzgerald and Shannon number 8 Luke Clohessy snapped up possession for a try in the corner.

Fitzgerald landed his most difficult place-kick from out wide, and he also added the extras to Stafford’s 44th-minute bonus point effort as a quick-witted Shannon attack turned their 21-8 half-time advantage into a clear 20-point lead. As UCC centres Cian Bohane and Peter Sylvester began to wield more influence, the home side defended doggedly and denied the students by forcing a foot into touch.

A 64th-minute midfield surge did end with a UCC try, their industrious number 8 John Hodnett making it over in the corner for Taylor to convert. The margin was suddenly down to 28-20 after Poland completed his brace in the 72nd minute, sniping around the corner after Shannon had stalled an advancing UCC lineout maul.

Crucially, Shannon swiftly hit back through Fitzgerald’s left boot. He led an attack which ended with an important three-pointer to give Tom Hayes’ youngsters an 11-point cushion. UCC had enough possession to at least take a bonus point and possibly two out of the game, but an overthrown lineout and a subsequent knock-on – with Nicholas tackling furiously for Shannon – ended the students’ challenge.

SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Ikem Ugwueru, Pa Ryan, Will Leonard, Eathon Moloney; Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Eoghan Clarke, Tony Cusack, Lee Nicholas (capt), Jade Kriel, Colm Heffernan, Kelvin Brown, Luke Clohessy.

Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Cronan Gleeson, Luke Moylan, Aran Hehir, Robbie Deegan.

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Murray Linn, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylveter, Matthew Bowen; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Paidi McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Andrew Davies, Mark Bissessar, Darragh Moloney, Fergus Hennessy, John Hodnett.

Replacements: Darragh Fitzgerald, Lewis Grice, Brian O’Mahony, Colin Sisk, Michael Clune.

YOUNG MUNSTER 12 LANSDOWNE 23, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Conor Hayes, Darragh O’Neill; Con: Conor Hayes
Lansdowne: Tries: Eamonn Mills 2, Peter Sullivan; Con: Harry Byrne; Pens: Harry Byrne 2

HT: Young Munster 0 Lansdowne 10

Lansdowne captain Eamonn Mills started and finished the try-scoring for the his side as they registered a rare win at Tom Clifford Park today, digging deep to finish 23-12 clear of Young Munster.

Pacy full-back Mills was the star of the show, weighing in with the game’s opening try on the quarter hour mark and then scampering clear from his own try-line to run in a decisive intercept score in the dying seconds. It floored Munsters who were right on the cusp of scoring at 16-12 down and claiming the result for themselves.

It was Lansdowne’s second successive victory at Greenfields after winning 27-24 on their last trip to the Limerick venue in April. The previous six trips to Young Munster during Mike Ruddock’s coaching reign had all ended in defeat, so this was a big result for the headquarter club who have climbed back into the top four.

This lively top-flight contest had Lansdowne in the ascendancy by half-time, leading 10-0 with defences very much on top. Mills’ finishing skills out wide were matched young winger Peter Sullivan in the 36th minute as a second unconverted try gave Ruddock’s charges a considerable lead give how tight the exchanges were.

Head coach Gearoid Prendergast’s half-time instructions saw the Cookies respond just five minutes into the second half. 19-year-old full-back Conor Hayes, who is in his first year with the Connacht Academy, slalomed through for a try which he converted himself, further lifting the intensity and decibel level around the ground.

Lansdowne showed their experience in mining a couple of penalty opportunities for their new out-half Harry Byrne. He was successful with both kicks to open up a 16-7 lead despite the visitors losing prop Denis Coulson to a 52nd-minute yellow card. The sin-binning of Sullivan, in the 63rd minute, was quickly followed by Munsters’ second try – in-form winger Darragh O’Neill’s fourth of the season so far.

However, luck was not on the Cookies’ side down the final stretch. Lansdowne’s four-point lead remained in place even after Coulson was sent off in the 73rd minute. The strong running of Tom McHale, Dan Walsh and Evan O’Gorman raised the prospect of a match-winning try for the Limerick men, but Mills had other ideas and showed admirable pace to go the guts of 100 metres and seal a hard-fought triumph.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Conor Hayes; Tom McHale, Luke Fitzgerald, Evan O’Gorman, Darragh O’Neill; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; Gavin Ryan, Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Conor Mitchell, Dan Walsh, John Foley.

Replacements: Shane Fenton, Keynon Knox, Fintan Coleman, Diarmaid Dee, Stephen Kerins.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Mark O’Keeffe, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Harry Byrne, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville, David O’Connor, Oisin Dowling, Aaron Conneely, Jack O’Sullivan, Willie Earle.

Replacements: James Rael, Greg McGrath, Tom Murphy, Gareth Molloy, Scott Deasy. 

CLONTARF 17 UCD 6, Castle Avenue (played on Friday)
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Andrew Feeney, Cormac Daly; Cons: David Joyce, David Hawkshaw; Pen: David Hawkshaw
UCD: Pens: Matthew Gilsenan 2

HT: Clontarf 7 UCD 3

Tries in each half from Andrew Feeney and Cormac Daly guided Clontarf to their fifth league win on the trot, as UCD went down 17-6 at a rain-soaked Castle Avenue on Friday night.

Handling conditions were particularly difficult but both teams contributed to an entertaining tussle, which was sparked into life by scrum half Feeney’s third-minute try, which his half-back partner David Joyce converted. It was a statement of intent from the Division 1A leaders who gave fit-again hooker Paddy Finlay his debut in ‘Tarf colours.

UCD out-half Matthew Gilsenan had two shots at the points in response, landing the first one to make it a four-point game. Play was condensed in and around both 10-metres lines, despite both sides’ admirable efforts to throw the ball around and find space. A big defensive start by the north Dubliners prevented UCD from scoring on the resumption, and replacement Angus Lloyd’s fleet-footed break lifted the pressure.

Leinster ‘A’ player David Hawkshaw, who was also sprung from the hosts’ bench, was successful with the first of two penalty efforts. His second attempt, set up by prop Ivan Soroka’s hard work at the breakdown, missed the target. Terrific pressure in the lineout from Charlie Ryan led to a ‘Tarf knock-on and another missed opportunity.

Gilsenan duly doubled his tally from the tee to close the gap to 10-6. The arm wrestle continued to swing one way and the other, both sides losing a player to the sin-bin and openside Adrian D’Arcy, in particular, coming up with some big plays. He won the penalty which set the wheels in motion for second row Daly’s crucial try from a maul in the clubhouse corner.

Hawkshaw increased his influence by brilliantly nailing the touchline conversion, and despite a furious late scramble from UCD for late try with Soroka in the bin, Clontarf stood their ground to frustrate the students into submission and end round 5 with their one-point lead at the summit still intact.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Sean O’Brien, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Mick McGrath; David Joyce, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Paddy Finlay, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Connor Johnston, Tom Ryan, Niall Carson, Angus Lloyd, David Hawkshaw.

UCD: Tim Carroll; David Heavey, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Oisin O’Meara; Matthew Gilsenan, Nick Peters; Sam Griffin, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Charlie Ryan, Tom Treacy, Jonny Guy, Alex Penny (capt), Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Bobby Sheehan, JP Phelan, Emmet MacMahon, Tom Foley, Ian O’Kelly.

TERENURE COLLEGE 8 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 25, Lakelands Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Terenure College: Try: Jamie Glynn; Pen: James Thornton
Dublin University: Tries: Arthur Greene, Max Kearney, Jack Kelly; Cons: James Fennelly 2; Pens: James Fennelly 2

HT: Terenure College 0 Dublin University 15

Three-try Dublin University climbed into the top half of the Division 1A table after running out 25-8 winners over bottom side Terenure College in their Friday Night Lights clash at Lakelands Park. 

Trinity made it back-to-back wins with Arthur Greene, Max Kearney and returning Leinster ‘A’ captain Jack Kelly all touching down. Terenure, who trailed 15-0 at half-time, improved in the second half but it was not until injury-time that a neat Jamie Glynn finish gave them a elusive try.

A hat-trick hero last week against Young Munster, full-back Michael Silvester had a strong impact for the students in the early stages at Lakelands, while Liam Turner, the latest player to roll off Blackrock College’s famous schools rugby production line, almost scored at the end of an incisive move.

A powerful run out of defence by former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray seemed to lift the pressure off Terenure’s shoulders, only for Trinity to respond with the opening try in the 12th minute. James Hickey and Kearney made initial drives towards the line, but it was lock Green who eventually touched down to the right of the posts.

Influential out-half James Fennelly converted and although ‘Nure started to settle as the first quarter progressed, they remained scoreless as a relieved Trinity defence watched Coghlan Murray’s overcook his pass to waiting winger Sam Dardis and a try went a-begging.

Indeed, the hosts fell further behind in the 29th minute when Fennelly knocked over a penalty, and a second try soon followed for Tony Smeeth’s well-drilled Trinity side. Captain Colm Hogan and Turner threatened on both wings before flanker Kearney supplied the finishing touches to a multi-phase attack which ground the ‘Nure defence into submission.

Fennelly’s conversion attempt rebounded off a post, leaving it 15-0 at the interval. James Blaney’s men needed the breaks to fall their way on the resumption and the sin-binning of Trinity prop Bart Vermeulen offered them a chance to get back in the hunt. With their set piece moves not quite producing dividends, James Thornton was called on to kick at goal in the 49th minute and open their account.

However, in spite of their numerical advantage, ‘Nure leaked three points to Fennelly at the other end, and once restored to their full complement, the Trinity pack kept the visitors on the front foot. A brilliant Kyle McCoy lineout steal thwarted them, though, and a series of handling errors also stopped the white shirts in their tracks.

Nonetheless, Trinity were able to seal the result when another attacking scrum spelled danger for Terenure and outside centre Kelly cut a superb line to power over for a high-quality seven-pointer. ‘Nure did at least finish with a flourish, switching play to the right where the ever-industrious Glynn, the former UCD scrum half and captain, jinked through for an eye-catching consolation score.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Sam Coghlan Murray; Harry Moore, Stephen O’Neill, Robbie Carroll, Sam Dardis; James Thornton, Jamie Glynn; Karl O’Brien, Robbie Smyth, Tiarnan Creagh, Michael Melia (capt), Matthew Caffrey, Kyle McCoy, Rory Murray, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Killian Bolger, Aaron Ryan, Erik Wijten, Kevin O’Neill.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Liam Turner, Jack Kelly, James Hickey, Colm Hogan (capt); James Fennelly, Conor Lowndes; Bart Vermeulen, Joe Horan, Dylan Doyle, Arthur Greene, Jack Dunne, Paddy Nulty, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: William Jennings, Thomas Clarkson, Alex MacDonald, Tomas Killeen, Robert Russell.

– Photos from M Lee Media, Dermot Lynch Photography, Liam Coughlan & Inpho Photography