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All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 15 Review

All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 15 Review

Scrum half Jason Higgins was one of Cork Constitution's best performers in their bonus point triumph over defending champions Lansdowne ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Cork Constitution hit peak form in their top of the table clash with Lansdowne, scoring seven converted tries in a dominant 49-17 victory at Temple Hill. Clontarf, Young Munster and Terenure College also claimed bonus point wins at home, while Garryowen got back to winning ways at UCD.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, March 9

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CLONTARF 45 SHANNON 14, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Declan Adamson, James McKeown 2, Michael Courtney, Ivan Soroka, Angus Lloyd, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: David Joyce 3, Conor Kelly 2
Shannon: Tries: Luke Moylan, Ben Daly; Cons: Ben Daly, Jack Stafford
HT: Clontarf 21 Shannon 14

Front rowers Declan Adamson and Ivan Soroka got on the scoresheet in Clontarf’s runaway 45-14 bonus point win over Shannon which has propelled the north Dubliners into second place in All-Ireland League Division 1A.

Clontarf have edged ahead of Lansdowne, who were thumped by leaders Cork Constitution, in the race for a home semi-final. They are a point ahead of the defending champions heading into the final three rounds which conclude with a mouth-watering clash between the heavyweight Dublin clubs at the Aviva Stadium in mid-April.

‘Tarf’s forward power was in full effect early on against Shannon, winning a scrum penalty and then driving Adamson over from a dominant fifth-minute maul. Adamson, a bright prospect, was involved in the Ireland Under-20 camp last week and is part of the Connacht Eagles squad that is heading Stateside in the coming days for the Cara Cup.

However, his try was cancelled out in the 12th minute when the visitors profited from a quick turnover and Jack Stafford fed flanker Luke Moylan who did well to evade the clutches of former Clontarf captain Ben Reilly and touch down on the all-weather pitch.

The scores were coming thick and fast, ‘Tarf responding on the quarter hour with a midfield break which ended with winger James McKeown going in under the posts. It was 21-7 after Angus Lloyd and Matt D’Arcy used a penalty advantage from a maul to set up the inrushing Michael Courtney to wrestle his way over the line.

David Joyce landed his third successful conversion, but young out-half Ben Daly’s well-taken 29th-minute score had Shannon just seven points in arrears at half-time. Andy Wood’s men took advantage of a Shannon sin-binning in the third quarter to secure their bonus point, another well-executed maul putting loosehead Soroka over in the 58th minute.

With missed tackles inviting ‘Tarf forward, a pacy attack saw scrum half Lloyd score in the corner and replacement Conor Kelly converted with aplomb for a 33-14 scoreline. The strong-running McKeown then burst through a tackle to complete his brace with 16 minutes remaining.

Shannon had enough possession and territory to hit back during the closing stages, aided by some strong carries from Kelvin Brown, Pa Ryan’s breaking ability in midfield, and a series of penalties which left ‘Tarf down to 14 men. However, a forward pass let the hosts off the hook before D’Arcy intercepted in midfield and capitalised on some tired legs to run his eighth try of the campaign.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; James McKeown, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Declan Adamson, Vakh Abdaladaze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Ruadhan Byron, Tony Ryan, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Paddy Finlay, Tom Ryan, Royce Burke-Flynn, Hugo Lennox, Conor Kelly.

SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Jack O’Donnell, Pa Ryan, Robbie Deegan, Eathon Moloney; Ben Daly, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Jade Kriel (capt), Luke Moylan, Kelvin Brown, Colm Heffernan.

Replacements: Ty Chan, Luke Masters, Thomas Ahern, Aran Hehir, Ger Finucane.

CORK CONSTITUTION 49 LANSDOWNE 17, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Jason Higgins, Niall Kenneally, Greg Higgins, Liam O’Connell, Brian Hayes, Kevin Sheahan, Alex McHenry; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 7
Lansdowne: Tries: Aaron Conneely, Peter Sullivan, Daniel McEvoy; Con: Scott Deasy
HT: Cork Constitution 28 Lansdowne 5

Captain Niall Kenneally enjoyed a try-scoring return as he helped Division 1A table toppers Cork Constitution coast to a brilliant 49-17 bonus point win over their nearest rivals Lansdowne.

Cork Con turned in their best performance of the season at Temple Hill with Kenneally, who missed their recent games against UCD and Garryowen, and Ireland Sevens international Alex McHenry both impressing in midfield. The hosts ran in seven tries to virtually assure themselves of home advantage in the play-offs – they are now 13 points clear of third-placed Lansdowne with three rounds remaining.

This heavy defeat unfortunately came on the day that Lansdowne stalwart Willie Earle broke the club’s record for All-Ireland League appearances in his 143rd game. Earle and his team-mates were trailing inside seven minutes when winger Greg Higgins crossed in the right corner following a weaving run by impressive out-half Aidan Moynihan and Ross O’Neill’s draw-and-pass assist.

Jason Higgins’ terrific break from a ruck, following up on Rob Jermyn’s initial incision from halfway, paved the way for the supporting Kenneally to touch down behind the posts in the 22nd minute. Adding to Lansdowne’s woes, Moynihan also had a superb day with the boot, landing all seven conversions.

Brian Hickey’s men had four tries on the board to lead 28-5 at half-time with full-back Liam O’Connell dotting down the loose ball after Daniel McEvoy, under pressure from Jermyn, had failed to gather Moynihan’s well-placed cross-field kick. Busy scrum half Higgins also deservedly crossed the whitewash from another fast-paced attack.

Lansdowne, who had won October’s meeting 35-27 at home, managed to sandwich in an unconverted 36th-minute score from openside Aaron Conneely, who was the pick of their forwards. He did well to apply the finishing touches to a determined counter attack from halfway.

However, with their varied attack continued to prod holes in the Dubliners’ defence, Con tagged on three more tries in the second half. Hard-working forwards Brian Hayes and Kevin Sheahan got in on the act along with centre McHenry who saved the best for last with a fantastic 65-metre solo run which saw him break the line, evade a tackle and then round covering full-back Eamonn Mills with 12 minutes remaining.

Late scores from wingers Peter Sullivan – his tenth of the season was a well-taken 71st-minute intercept effort – and Daniel McEvoy, whose score was created by Scott Deasy’s long pass from midfield, salvaged some pride for Lansdowne, who have slipped from second to third in the table with Clontarf leapfrogging them.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Greg Higgins, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Patrick Casey, Evan Mintern, Brian Hayes, Kevin Sheahan, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Dylan Murphy, Brendan Quinlan, James Murphy, Richard Cassidy, Jack Costigan.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Martin Mulhall, Ian Prendiville, Greg McGrath, Willie Earle, David O’Connor, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Joe O’Brien.

Replacements: JJ Earle, Ntinga Mpiko, Tom Murphy, Gareth Molloy, Conor Murphy.

TERENURE COLLEGE 39 UCC 29, Lakelands Park
Scorers: Terenure College: Tries: Matthew Byrne 2, Paddy Thornton, Adam La Grue, Stephen Caffrey, Stephen O’Neill; Cons: James Thornton 2, Mark O’Neill; Pen: James Thornton
UCC: Tries: Michael Clune, Murray Linn, Cian Bohane 2; Cons: James Taylor 3; Pen: James Taylor
HT: Terenure College 27 UCC 5

Second row Stephen Caffrey’s 77th-minute try sealed another bonus point home win for Terenure College – their third in five rounds – as the division’s bottom side got the better of UCC on a 39-29 scoreline at Lakelands Park.

With both teams battling against relegation, Terenure raced into a 27-5 half-time lead only for UCC to burst back into life in a wind-backed second half. Centre Cian Bohane’s brace of tries (67 and 71 minutes) had ‘Nure sweating towards the end of this attack-driven contest, before Caffrey reached over for the clinching score.

James Blaney’s men stung UCC with a try inside the opening minute, full-back Matthew Byrne the scorer out wide as the home side immediately flooded forward. Michael Clune, who has been a regular scorer in recent rounds, brought UCC level with a well-taken eighth-minute try, but Terenure’s fleet-footed attack was on a roll by the half hour mark.

With centres Stephen O’Neill and Adam La Grue catching the eye, they started the second quarter with quick-fire tries from Byrne, who crossed for the eighth time this season, and La Grue. Out-half James Thornton landed a 26th minute penalty and converted busy openside Paddy Thornton’s darting run to the line for the bonus point barely a minute later.

A shell-shocked UCC were now 27-5 in arrears, and the Terenure defence managed to keep them out nearing half-time despite losing two players to the sin-bin. Three minutes after the restart, Murray Linn did breach the defensive line for the Cork students’ second touchdown. James Taylor converted and tagged on a penalty following his opposite number Thornton’s return from the bin.

Although UCC were making the most of a very strong wind at their backs, centre O’Neill evaded the clutches of a couple of defenders to dot down and give Terenure a timely boost with 18 minutes remaining. Defences were tiring given the tempo and width that both sides played with, and former Munster centre Bohane struck twice as Brian Walsh’s charges took advantage of another ‘Nure yellow card.

The pressure was back on Terenure but captain Michael Melia rallied his troops for a big final push, and after a penalty brought them back into the UCC 22, his second row partner Caffrey drove over for the match-winning try. ‘Nure’s five-point return means they are now just four points behind both Shannon and UCC, with the latter’s try-scoring bonus point keeping them out of the bottom two.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Adam La Grue, Stephen O’Neill, Conor Kelly; James Thornton, Jamie Glynn; Conor McCormack, Robbie Smyth, Jack Aungier, Michael Melia (capt), Stephen Caffrey, Harrison Brewer, Paddy Thornton, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Tiarnan Creagh, Niall O’Sullivan, Erik Wijten, Mark O’Neill.

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Michael Clune, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Murray Linn; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Paidi McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Cian Barry, Andrew Davies, Daire Feeney (capt), Lee McSherry, Ryan Murphy.

Replacements: Harry Jephson, Robert Loftus, Brian O’Mahony, Mark Bissessar, Eoin Monahan.

UCD 14 GARRYOWEN 24, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Liam Hyland, Jonny Guy; Cons: Conall Doherty 2
Garryowen: Tries: Rob Guerin, Andy Keating, Penalty try; Cons: Peadar Collins 2, Pen try con; Pen: Peadar Collins
HT: UCD 7 Garryowen 10

Fifth-placed Garryowen closed the gap on Division 1A play-off rivals Dublin University to a single point after emerging as 24-14 winners over UCD at the Belfield Bowl.

The Light Blues bounced back from successive defeats thanks in no small part to tries from Rob Guerin and Andy ‘Panda’ Keating, while their heavier pack also forced a second half penalty try. However, it was in-form UCD who hit the front in the ninth minute when tighthead Liam Hyland powered over the whitewash after Paddy Patterson had marshalled a series of forward drives.

It was a sloppy start from Garryowen, going seven points down with a man in the sin-bin, but they finished out the opening quarter on level terms. Scrum half Guerin tapped a penalty and it proved a shrewd decision as he rejoined the attack for a clinical close range finish from a ruck, with centre Peadar Collins supplying the extras.

Although the students continued to dominate possession as the first half wore on, Garryowen twice claimed turnover penalties to lift the siege on their try-line. UCD lost flanker Jonny Guy to a 32nd-minute yellow card, and a few minutes later, Collins stepped up to nudge the visitors in front for the interval – 10-7 – but a scuffle on the stroke of half-time saw Hyland join Liam Cronin in the bin.

When play resumed, wind-backed UCD were on the front foot with out-half Matthew Gilsenan kicking a succession of penalties to touch. They were denied by some dogged defending, but UCD’s persistence paid off in the 53rd minute when the excellent Guy showed a great turn of pace to evade covering full-back Andrew O’Byrne and gleefully dive over for a try converted by Conall Doherty.

Chasing the game once more at 14-10 down, Conan Doyle’s charges enjoyed an extended attacking spell on the hour mark. Guerin almost sniped over on a couple of occasions and the influence of Collins and Jamie Gavin was growing. Seizing his opportunity in the 62nd minute, Keating collected a pass in front of the posts and barrelled over past two defenders, leaving Collins to convert for a 17-14 scoreline.

UCD were now struggling to break out of their own half, and although they initially held out under immense pressure from the Garryowen scrum, a big drive from a few metres out shunted them backwards and referee Richard Horgan awarded the Light Blues their penalty try. UCD did have one final chance to snatch a losing bonus point, but Doherty’s tricky penalty effort drifted past the uprights.

UCD: Conall Doherty; Tim Carroll, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Cillian Burke; Matthew Gilsenan, Paddy Patterson; Sam Griffin, Bobby Sheehan, Liam Hyland, Cian Prendergast, Brian Cawley, Jonny Guy, Alex Penny (capt), Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Richie Bergin, Evin Coyle, Keelan McKenna, Nick Peters, Aaron O’Sullivan.

GARRYOWEN: Andrew O’Byrne; Bryan Fitzgerald, Peadar Collins, Dave McCarthy, Cian O’Shea; Jamie Gavin, Rob Guerin; Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Kevin Seymour, Dean Moore (capt), Sean O’Connor, Tim Ferguson, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Mullany, Alan Fitzgerald, Ben Swindlehirst, Evan Maher.

YOUNG MUNSTER 24 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 18, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Jack Lyons, Conor Mitchell, Keynan Knox, Conor Phillips; Cons: Shane Airey 2
Dublin University: Tries: Ronan Quinn, Conor Lowndes; Con: James Fennelly; Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 2
HT: Young Munster 14 Dublin University 6

Young Munster climbed out of the bottom two to give their Division 1A survival bid a huge lift with a 24-18 bonus point win over semi-final hopefuls Dublin University.

The partisan Greenfields crowd enjoyed a confidence-boosting four-try performance from the Cookies who won for the first time in six meetings with Trinity over the last three seasons. Shane Airey set up two tries with cross-field kicks at Lansdowne last week and supplied another aerial assist yesterday as he teed up winger Conor Phillips’ 74th-minute bonus point score.

Two seven-pointers had Young Munster leading 14-6 at half-time, responding to Micheal O’Kennedy’s penalty in the ninth minute from outside the 22. Trinity’s defence gave way when Munsters scrum half Jack Lyons broke the defensive line and scampered over to score beside the posts. Obstruction on a kick chase allowed O’Kennedy to double his and the students’ tally with a second penalty for 7-6.

However, Lyons exploited some space again as his smart break, combined with a Ger Slattery offload, sent the Cookies’ Australian flanker Conor Mitchell in under the posts. Airey added the extras to put eight points between the sides, although Munsters’ indiscipline continued to invite the students forward and Max Kearney had a try-saving intervention at the other end of the pitch.

Tony Smeeth’s half-time team talk had the desired effect as the division’s fourth-placed team swiftly reduced the arrears to 14-11 thanks to winger Ronan Quinn’s 43rd-minute try in the corner. Referee Mark Patton was busy with his yellow card as successive scrum penalties saw Cookies loosehead David Begley sin-binned and he was joined on the sideline three minutes later by his captain Alan Kennedy.

The visitors also had tighthead Dylan Doyle binned for a high tackle, and with the defiant home defence proving tough to break down, it was Munsters who scored next against the run of play – Munster Academy prop Keynan Knox drove over the line to make it 19-11 with 18 minutes remaining. Ireland Under-20 international Phillips’ fine piece of fielding in the left corner sewed up the result late on, with Gearoid Prendergast’s side now sitting a point above UCC and second-from-bottom Shannon.

Trinity held onto fourth place thanks to a closing try out wide from replacement Conor Lowndes and what could prove to be a crucial conversion from full-back James ‘Jesus’ Fennelly. It was the University outfit’s first defeat in five rounds but they remain on course for an historic semi-final berth, with three huge matches coming up against Cork Constitution (home), UCD (away) and Garryowen (home).

YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Darragh O’Neill, Derek Corcoran, Luke Fitzgerald, Conor Phillips; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; David Begley, Ger Slattery, Keynan Knox, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Diarmaid Dee, Conor Mitchell, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Fintan Coleman, Dan Walsh, Jason Kiely.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: James Fennelly; Colm Hogan (capt), James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Ronan Quinn; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Jack Dunne, Reuben Pim, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Bart Vermeulen, Aziz Naser, Cian O’Dwyer, Conor Lowndes.