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All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 9 Review

All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 9 Review

There were some nail-biting finishes in All-Ireland League Division 1A’s final round before Christmas. It was almost a clean sweep for the away teams, but Jake Flannery’s late penalty saw Shannon triumph on Thomond Park’s main pitch.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, December 15

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Scorers: Terenure College: Tries: Mark O’Neill, Matthew Byrne; Cons: James Thornton 2
Cork Constitution: Tries: Penalty try, Gavin Duffy, Jason Higgins, Patrick Casey; Cons: Pen try con, Aidan Moynihan 3; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2

HT: Terenure College 7 Cork Constitution 20

Division 1A leaders Cork Constitution ended 2018 on a high with a convincing 34-14 bonus point victory over bottom side Terenure College at Lakelands Park on Saturday afternoon.

After a penalty try helped them to establish a 20-7 half-time lead, Jason Higgins and replacement Patrick Casey crossed for further tries to move Cork Con five points clear of defending champions Lansdowne heading into the Christmas break.

The wintry weather conditions ensured that the game took place on Lakelands’ all-weather surface rather than Terenure’s favoured grass pitch. Constitution had to absorb some early pressure after their flanker Joe McSwiney was sent to the sin-bin for leading with a high elbow into ‘Nure’s Rory Murray.

Aidan Moynihan kicked 14-man Con ahead with a penalty from the 22-metre line, and he doubled the lead beyond the opening quarter with another difficult kick into the wind. Once they were restored to their full complement, Con went about breaking down Terenure’s defensive resistance. Captain Niall Kenneally carried strongly and was hauled down short before prop Gavin Duffy finished off for a 13-0 scoreline.

The home side clawed back those seven points when they ran a penalty, towards the end of the first half. Scrum half Mark O’Neill managed to dive over for a try which his half-back partner James Thornton converted. However, Con’s powerful 38th-minute lineout maul was dragged down and earned them a penalty try from referee Jonathan Peak.

That was followed by a stop-start third quarter, during which a series of scrums prevented either side from creating a consistent attacking plan. Terenure did well to cope with a rolling maul on the hour mark, winning a turnover scrum but the pressure told soon after.

Another storming break by outstanding centre Kenneally led to a penalty close to the posts. Moynihan went for touch and the decision paid off with the ensuring maul completed by scrum half Higgins’ powerful finish from close range. Moynihan converted to give the table toppers a 20-point cushion.

They secured their bonus point with 12 minutes remaining as Casey rounded off a swift counter attack for his second try in as many games. Centre Adam Lagrue was one of Terenure’s best performers on the day and his lung-bursting break set up full-back Matthew Byrne for his sixth try of the league season.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Erik Wijten, Adam Lagrue, Conor Kelly, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Tim Schmidt; Tiarnan Creagh, Robbie Smyth, Jack Aungier, Michael Melia (capt), Matthew Caffrey, Adam Clarkin, Rory Murray, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Risteard Byrne, Conor McCormack, Kyle McCoy, Sam Dardis, Mark O’Neill.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Shane Daly; Liam O’Connell, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Brian Scott, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Joe McSwiney, Kevin Sheahan, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Patrick Casey, Brendan Quinlan Sean Duffy, Richard Cassidy, Sean French.  

Scorers: Dublin University: Pens: James Fennelly 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Ian Prendiville, Alan Bennie, Willie Fay; Con: Harry Byrne

HT: Dublin University 3 Lansdowne 5

Promising young back rower Willie Fay picked up his second try in three games as Lansdowne overcame a spirited Dublin University side 17-6 in the final round of the All-Ireland League before the mid-season break.

The defending champions deserve an extra helping of turkey, ham and Christmas pudding after stringing together seven straight wins in response to two opening defeats in autumn. Lansdowne have passed every test since then, their latest success at College Park teed up by tries from former captain Ian Prendiville, Alan Bennie and Fay.

Buoyed by their win at Clontarf last week, Trinity gave it their all in pursuit of another big scalp. They tried to get the triumvirate of Michael Silvester, Jack Kelly and skipper Colm Hogan involved as much as possible, but it was a hard slog on the wet surface and the general play reflected the dull December sky.

The handling and kicking conditions were difficult, but a power surge from the Lansdowne pack earned prop Prendiville the chance to slide over for a 28th minute try, which was incredibly his first league score. The students’ out-half James Fennelly replied with a well-struck penalty for a 5-3 half-time deficit, taking his haul for the season to 80 points.

Fennelly doubled his tally to move Tony Smeeth’s youngsters in front, before Mike Ruddock’s substitutions worked a treat. Being able to bring on players of the calibre of Bennie and Harry Byrne was a huge plus for the second-placed visitors, who watched scrum half Bennie snipe over for a trademark score converted by Byrne.

The home side plugged away and were still very much in the hunt until Fay, an Under-20 player last season who has battled back from injury, gave the headquarters club a match-winning cushion late on. Their tactical nous and clinical edge proved the difference, but Trinity can be very happy with their lot, sitting fifth in the table with just four points to make up on Garryowen.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Liam Turner, Jack Kelly, James Hickey, Colm Hogan (capt); James Fennelly, Rowan Osborne; Donnacha Mescal, Dan Sheehan, Thomas Clarkson, Arthur Greene, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Conor Lowndes, Philip Murphy.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Mark O’Keeffe, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, Ronan Kelleher, Ian Prendiville, Oisin Dowling, Willie Earle, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Fay.

Replacements: James Rael, Greg McGrath, Tom Murphy, Alan Bennie, Harry Byrne.  

UCC 12 GARRYOWEN 14, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Pens: James Taylor 3; Drop: James Taylor
Garryowen: Try: Sean O’Connor; Pens: Ben Healy 2; Drop: Ben Healy

HT: UCC 6 Garryowen 0

Munster Academy starlet Ben Healy booted Garryowen to a last-gasp 14-12 win over provincial rivals UCC in a game that saw the lead change five times in a nip-and-tuck second half.

The teenage out-half’s expert use of the wind saw him coolly curl over a last-minute penalty as the Light Blues staged another smash and grab raid, just eight days on from their late heroics in their Limerick derby victory over Shannon at Dooradoyle.

Conan Doyle’s men have ended the first half of the season with four wins on the bounce, climbing back into Division 1A’s top four in the process. It was a battle from start to finish at the Mardyke, with UCC back to full strength after resting some players at Lansdowne last week.

This was billed as a possible shootout between two of the league’s most promising young out-halves, UCC number 10 James Taylor and Munster ‘A’ representative Healy. The sides were evenly matched until Taylor kicked the Cork students ahead with a superb 23rd-minute penalty from the 10-metre line.

Garryowen left points behind them when a bout of scrum pressure, five metres out, led to UCC replacement prop Bryan O’Connor being sin-binned. A try remained frustratingly out of the visitors’ reach, though, as UCC defended stoutly and eventually cleared their lines following a Garryowen knock-on.

With a minute left before the interval, the wind caught a clearance kick from Garryowen full-back Dave McCarthy and one his team-mates was whistled up for offside, allowing Taylor to make it 6-0 to Brian Walsh’s charges heading into the second period. Back came Garryowen, notching some momentum-building scores in the third quarter.

Munster’s Sean O’Connor barged over for a 47th minute try, which was swiftly followed by a Healy penalty to nudge the Limerick ahead at 8-6. Their former captain Neil Cronin, who is now part of the Munster squad, Andy Keating and Sean Rennison all came on as Garryowen looked to kick on and build a winning position.

UCC were having none of it, scrapping for a penalty on the 22 which Taylor fired over to see them lead by the minimum with 15 minutes remaining. Healy hit back with a 70th minute drop goal before the students came agonisingly close to crossing the whitewash. Despite the best efforts of number 8 Ryan Murphy and John Hodnett, they were held up on two separate occasions.

The home crowd’s hopes were raised again on the 80-minute mark when Taylor dropped back into the pocket to slot over a drop goal that looked like being the decisive score of this absorbing round 9 tie. That was until Garryowen denied their hosts right at the death as Healy, who only made his league debut last month, took his handsome haul to 46 points in four rounds.

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Matt Bowen, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Murray Linn; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Travis Coomey, Rob O’Donovan, Cian Barry, Darragh Moloney, Daire Feeney (capt), John Hodnett, Ryan Murphy.

Replacements: Paidi McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Brian O’Mahony, Fergus Hennessy, Michael Clune.

GARRYOWEN: Dave McCarthy; Daniel Hurley, Matt More, Peadar Collins, Cian O’Shea; Ben Healy, Rob Guerin; Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Ben Rowley, Kevin Seymour, Dean Moore (capt), Sean O’Connor, Darren Ryan, Tim Ferguson.

Replacements: Mike O’Donnell, Andy Keating, Alan Fitzgerald, Sean Rennison, Neil Cronin.  

YOUNG MUNSTER 11 CLONTARF 17, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Try: Shane Fenton; Pens: Shane Airey 2
Clontarf: Tries: Conor Jennings, Brian Deeny; Cons: David Joyce 2; Pen: David Joyce

HT: Young Munster 8 Clontarf 10

A week on from making his Ireland Under-19 debut against Australia, Wexford youngster Brian Deeny scored his first All-Ireland League try as Clontarf got the better of Young Munster, winning 17-11 at a very windy Tom Clifford Park.

Deeny, who has also played underage Sevens rugby for Ireland, touched down in the third quarter and Clontarf played the worsening conditions very well, retaining possession to grind out a well-merited win which keeps them hot on the heels of Lansdowne and table toppers Cork Constitution.

Looking to bounce back from last week’s rare home defeat to Trinity, third-placed ‘Tarf owed the ball early on at Greenfields with Munsters losing two early lineouts. The visitors used the possession to work centre Conor Jennings over for a try in the corner which David Joyce impressively converted.

The Cookies played to their strengths and a well-worked forwards try in the eighth minute saw hooker Shane Fenton pull back five points. Lock Tom Goggin stood out for his work in contact, helping to set up a close range penalty which Shane Airey landed for an 8-7 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

As the weather became increasingly wet and windy, the errors mounted from both sides but a scrum penalty allowed Joyce to boot the north Dubliners back in front for half-time – 10-8. Airey answered back but flanker Deeny used his long frame to reach over in the 58th minute with Joyce’s conversion widening the gap to 17-11.

Driving rain and a howling wind made it very difficult to build phases and pressure in the right areas of the pitch. Andy Wood’s men kept things tight, using their industrious forwards to hold onto the ball and consign Munsters to their sixth loss of the campaign. They head into the New Year four points above the bottom two.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Ed O’Keeffe, Calvin Nash, Evan O’Gorman, Darragh O’Neill; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; Conor Bartley, Shane Fenton, Keynan Knox, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Conor Mitchell, Dan Walsh, John Foley.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Josh Wycherley, Diarmaid Dee, Conor Philips, Clayton Stewart.

CLONTARF: Conor Kelly; Rob McGrath, Conor Jennings, Matt D’Arcy, Michael Courtney; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Declan Adamson, Vakh Abdaladze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Brian Deeny, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Paddy Finlay, Ruadhan Byron, Royce Burke-Flynn, Mark O’Sullivan, Michael Brown.  

SHANNON 9 UCD 8, Thomond Park main pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Pens: Jake Flannery 3
UCD: Try: Conall Doherty; Pen: Ian O’Kelly

HT: Shannon 0 UCD 5

Teenage out-half Jake Flannery kicked Shannon to a hard-fought 9-8 victory over UCD on Thomond Park’s main pitch this evening, as Tom Hayes’ young side put an end to a frustrating three-match losing run.

Flannery landed three second half penalties in difficult kicking conditions as Shannon joined a group of three clubs on 21 points in mid-table, lying four points behind fourth-placed Garryowen whom they lost to last week in dramatic circumstances at Dooradoyle.

UCD full-back Conall Doherty opened the scoring in the eighth minute, breaking onto a clever kick over the defence to score in the corner. That proved to be the game’s only try, although Shannon immediately increased their threat with winger Nathan Randles going close from a charge-down with the ball unfortunately going dead.

Scrum pressure saw the hosts go for the corner but the lineout ball was dropped, allowing UCD to kick clear. Indeed, a number of blocked kicks and handling errors thwarted both sides’ progress during the remainder of the first half, leading to some stop-start passages of play and plenty of turnovers.

When play settled down again on the resumption, Shannon centre Robbie Deegan was prominent in the build-up to Flannery’s first penalty success six minutes in. It was a good response to their captain Jade Kriel’s sin-binning just a couple of minutes earlier.

UCD had their own yellow as they ended the match with 14 men, going 6-3 down in the 72nd minute after Flannery, kicking from the left wing, crisply right-footed a testing kick over from inside the 10-metre line. Shannon were caught offside outside their 22 and handed back those three points with Ian O’Kelly nailing his place-kick for 8-6.

Crucially, Shannon bounced back with some big moments in the dying minutes. Replacement Jack O’Donnell broke through midfield and a subsequent UCD lineout was stolen, the pressure yielding a right-sided penalty which Flannery successfully threaded through the posts. A knock-on gave College a last-gasp scrum opportunity but their own knock-on ensured Shannon could celebrate a much-needed triumph.

SHANNON: Aran Hehir; Nathan Randles, Pa Ryan, Robbie Deegan, Eathon Moloney; Jake Flannery, Craig Casey; Conor Glynn, Ty Chan, Tony Cusack, Sean Walsh, Jade Kriel (capt), Colm Heffernan, Charlie Carmody, Kelvin Brown.

Replacements: Adam Moloney, Sam Karlsen, Colin Deane, Jack Stafford, Jack O’Donnell.

UCD: Conall Doherty; Tim Carroll, Gavin Mullin, Stephen Murphy, Andy Marks; Ian O’Kelly, Nick Peters; Michael Milne, Bobby Sheehan, Liam Hyland, Tom Treacy, Emmet MacMahon, Alex Penny (capt), Ben Murray, Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Sean Molony, JP Phelan, Brian Cawley, Shane Murphy, James Tarrant. 

– Photos from Peter Thursfield/Philip Duke (Terenure College RFC), Bryan Keane/Inpho Photography (Dublin University v Lansdowne) & David Ribeiro/M. Lee Media (UCC v Garryowen)

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