A nifty bit of soothsaying by the IRFU fixture planners has conjured up some mouth-watering showdowns in next Saturday’s final round of the All-Ireland League, with four of five relegation-threatened teams in Division 1A set to play each other, and Lansdowne and Clontarf going head-to-head for a home semi-final.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 6
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CLONTARF 15 TERENURE COLLEGE 16, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Cian O’Donoghue, Angus Lloyd; Con: David Joyce; Pen: David Joyce
Terenure College: Try: Sam Coghlan Murray; Con: James Thornton; Pens: James Thornton 3
HT: Clontarf 10 Terenure College 10
Out-half James Thornton struck a dramatic injury-time penalty at Castle Avenue on Saturday afternoon to guide relegation-threatened Terenure College to a vital 16-15 win over Division 1A semi-finalists Clontarf.
The visitors looked set to fall short in this Dublin derby when scrum half Angus Lloyd broke away for Clontarf’s 64th-minute try. Thornton’s dependable right boot kept ‘Nure in contention, however, and his ice-cool demeanour and accuracy from the tee ensured that they lifted themselves off the foot of the table.
It was second against tenth at the north Dublin venue, with Andy Wood’s charges aiming to stay ahead of Lansdowne in their battle for a home semi-final in the top flight of the All-Ireland League. Nonetheless, ‘Nure, who had beaten fellow strugglers UCC and Shannon in recent weeks, began yesterday‘s contest on the front foot and applied significant pressure early on.
It was Clontarf who were first on the scoreboard, though, as David Joyce punished an 11th-minute high tackle with a well-struck penalty goal, and just a few minutes later, Lloyd spread the play from a ruck and Jack Power was able to release Cian O’Donoghue for a neat try on the left wing. Joyce’s conversion was cancelled out by a smoothly-struck penalty from Thornton in the 22nd minute.
Terenure narrowly avoided the concession of a second try before drawing themselves level for half-time at 10-all. Young centre Adam La Grue’s powerful break from deep created space in behind ‘Tarf’s defensive line and his well-placed pass sent former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray over for his third try in two league matches, converted brilliantly by Thornton.
With so much at stake, it proved to be a largely attritional third quarter with a series of turnover penalties making it difficult for either side to build momentum. Seizing the initiative, the razor-sharp Lloyd stunned Terenure when he intercepted a loose pass and raced away for a potentially game-changing try. Joyce missed the conversion, nonetheless, and Thornton’s 69th-minute penalty gave ‘Nure fresh hope.
Clontarf, who visit Lansdowne in next Saturday‘s final round, came under further pressure after losing openside Tony Ryan to the sin-bin, and James Blaney’s men duly forced another shot at goal for the impressive Thornton. He made no mistake with a clinical place-kick from the left, and while ‘Nure remain second-from-bottom, a victory at home to Young Munster next week will preserve their top flight status for another year.
CLONTARF: Jack Power; Sean O’Brien, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Paddy Finlay, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Ruadhan Byron, Tony Ryan, Michael Noone (capt).
Replacements: Declan Adamson, Tom Ryan, Niall Carson, Andrew Feeney, Conor Kelly.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Adam La Grue, Robbie Carroll, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Jamie Glynn; Conor McCormack, Adam Clarkin, Tiarnan Creagh, Michael Melia (capt), Harrison Brewer, Niall O’Sullivan, Paddy Thornton, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Robbie Smyth, Adam Tuite, Matthew Caffrey, Conor Kelly, Mark O’Neill.
LANSDOWNE 54 GARRYOWEN 26, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Peter Sullivan 2, Martin Mulhall, Ian Prendiville, Aaron Conneely, Daniel McEvoy, Eamonn Mills; Cons: Scott Deasy 4, Conor Murphy; Pens: Scott Deasy 3
Garryowen: Tries: Cian O’Shea, David McCarthy, Luke Ashmore, Penalty try; Cons: Jamie Heuston 2, Pen try con
HT: Lansdowne 23 Garryowen 14
Lansdowne took advantage of Clontarf’s slip-up against Terenure College as they ran seven tries past Garryowen in a free-flowing 54-26 bonus point triumph on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.
The defending champions have returned to second place, moving three points clear of ‘Tarf ahead of the sides’ final round meeting at the Ballsbridge venue next Saturday. Intriguingly, it will be a dress rehearsal for the semi-final and the only remaining issue to sort out is if it will be Lansdowne at home in the last-four or fellow heavyweights Clontarf.
This was Garryowen’s fourth defeat in their last five games, a run which took them out of the play-off reckoning and coincided with Dublin University’s historic progression to the top flight’s semi-final stage. The Light Blues trailed 9-0 on the half-hour mark, with Scott Deasy kicking three penalties for Lansdowne before this penultimate round clash burst into life.
Converted tries from Cian O’Shea (32 minutes) and David McCarthy (38) had Garryowen five points to the good before Lansdowne showed their ruthless streak, hitting back with two seven-pointers of their own to lead 23-14 at the break. Further space opened up after Garryowen scrum half Rob Guerin joined Lansdowne flanker Jack O’Sullivan in the sin-bin.
Standing out once again was 20-year-old Lansdowne winger Peter Sullivan, who notched another brace to move to 14 tries at the top of the division’s try-scoring charts. A penalty try gave the Limerick men hope at 35-21 down but that was close as they could get.
The 4G pitch at IRFU headquarters continues to bring the best out of Lansdowne’s attack – their pack was on song with Deasy and Tim Murphy orchestrating things from half-back – and forwards Martin Mulhall, Ian Prendiville and Aaron Conneely all crossed the whitewash.
The hosts’ pacy back-three finished with four tries for themselves, as Daniel McEvoy and captain Eamonn Mills joined Sullivan on the scoresheet. Promising young prop Luke Ashmore claimed the bonus point try for Garryowen but Lansdowne ensured they had the final say, crossing the half-century mark and moving onto 526 points in their points-for column – an incredible average of 31 points per game.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Martin Mulhall, James Rael, Ian Prendiville, David O’Connor, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Earle.
Replacements: Ntinga Mpiko, Greg McGrath, Willie Fay, James Kenny, Conor Murphy.
GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Dan Hurley, Andrew O’Byrne, David McCarthy, Cian O’Shea; Jamie Gavin, Rob Guerin; Jack Mullany, Liam Cronin, Luke Ashmore, Kevin Seymour, Dean Moore (capt), Tim Ferguson, Darren Ryan, Alan Fitzgerald.
Replacements: David Canny, Sean Rennison, Michael Sheehan, Evan Maher, Ben Swindelhurst.
CORK CONSTITUTION 37 UCC 19, Temple Hill (played on Friday)
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Shane Daly, Liam O’Connell 2, Brian Hayes, Richard Cassidy; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2
UCC: Try: Penalty try; Con: Pen try con; Pens: James Taylor 4
HT: Cork Constitution 22 UCC 9
Long-time leaders Cork Constitution booked a home semi-final in Division 1A after completing a season’s double over UCC with a 37-19 derby win at Temple Hill on Friday night.
On a night when Con’s 1999 league champions were celebrated, Brian Hickey’s class of 2019 did most of the damage in the first half with tries from Munster’s Shane Daly and full-back Liam O’Connell (2). Further scores from Brian Hayes and replacement Richard Cassidy registered their 11th try bonus point of the season.
UCC were looking to avenge October’s 20-18 defeat and included Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winner John Hodnett at number 8 in place of Munster ‘A’ call-up Jack O’Sullivan. The visitors got off to an encouraging start with a sixth-minute penalty from classy young out-half James Taylor, who took his division-leading haul to 145 points on the night.
However, table-topping Con had too much in attack for the students, showing the firepower which they badly lacked last time out against Trinity. Centre Daly grabbed the game’s first try on the quarter hour mark, initiating a move up the left wing which sawO’Connell stopped short before Daly followed up to touch down for a 5-3 lead.
O’Connell got the try he desired five minutes later, profiting from good work in the build-up from Jason Higgins and second row Hayes. Higgins’ half-back partner Aidan Moynihan converted and then tagged on a penalty to open up a 15-3 advantage. In between, the UCC defence was stretched by a Billy Crowley break as Con’s offloading game was causing problems for the students.
Taylor responded with two well-struck penalties – punishing ruck and scrum infringements – but UCC were back up against it after their talismanic centre Cian Bohane saw yellow for a high tackle. The Con forwards were held up nearing half-time but they had enough time left to create space on the right for O’Connell to complete his brace and make it 22-9.
The handling errors increased in a rain-soaked and slower-paced second half, the weather conditions deteriorating considerably but Taylor and Moynihan were able to exchange penalties either side of a yellow card for Con lock Evan Mintern. There was a late flurry of tries with Hayes powering over to collect a 73rd-minute bonus point, Cassidy scoring the hosts’ fifth and UCC gaining some consolation with a penalty try.
The derby defeat, combined with the weekend’s other results, has seen Brian Walsh’s young side drop one place to eighth in the table, level on 31 points with second-from-bottom Terenure heading into the final round. Cork Con can do UCC a favour by beating bottom-placed Shannon, but the students will need four or possibly five points at home to UCD to make sure they stay ahead of ‘Nure.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Billy Crowley, Shane Daly, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Kevin Sheahan, James Murphy, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Brendan Quinlan, Patrick Casey, Cathal O’Flaherty, Richard Cassidy, Greg Higgins.
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, Mark Bissessar, Lee McSherry, John Hodnett.
Replacements: Harry Jephson, Rob Loftus, Brian O’Mahony, Cian Fitzgerald, Adam O’Connor.
YOUNG MUNSTER 33 SHANNON 7, Tom Clifford Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Ger Slattery, Dan Walsh 2, Alan Kennedy, Derek Corcoran; Cons: Shane Airey 4
Shannon: Try: Nathan Randles; Con: Ben Daly
HT: Young Munster 14 Shannon 7
Young Munster boosted their hopes of staying up in the top flight with an excellent 33-7 bonus point victory over Limerick rivals Shannon at Tom Clifford Park on Friday night.
Munsters ran in five tries in a dominant Limerick derby performance with Dan Walsh (2), Ger Slattery, Alan Kennedy and backs coach Derek Corcoran all crossing the whitewash. Nathan Randles replied for Shannon who have slipped to the bottom rung of the league ladder, now trailing Terenure by four points with one round remaining.
Gearoid Prendergast’s Cookies made all the running in the opening stages but some sterling Shannon defence kept the hosts at bay early on. However, Young Munster took advantage of all their pressure to score their first try when Shannon were down to 13 men due to yellow cards for Pa Ryan and Kelvin Brown.
Shane Airey kicked them into the Shannon 22 and experienced hooker Slattery got the first score of the game off the back of a lineout maul. Airey converted and their advantage was soon doubled when further pressure from Munsters saw former Ireland Under-20 back rower Walsh dive over from close range. Airey again added the conversion to stretch the lead to 14 points with 25 minutes on the clock.
Shannon eventually got a foothold and some excellent work at the breakdown earned them a penalty near halfway. Full-back Jamie McGarry’s kick to touch led to a powerful Shannon lineout drive. Another penalty then came their way with Slattery adjudged to have pulled down the maul. The visitors were finally rewarded after a succession of penalties resulted in Randles crossing in the right corner.
Young number 10 Ben Daly expertly nailed the touchline conversion to cut Munsters’ lead to seven at the break – 14-7. However, Shannon’s hopes of drawing closer were dashed just three minutes into the second half. Another power-packed lineout maul brought play close to the Shannon line and the Cookies registered their third try when captain Kennedy broke off to score.
Airey’s third successful conversion restored the 14-point lead and the home side never looked back. The introduction of Connacht’s Stephen Fitzgerald from the bench gave Shannon a timely lift but he was unable to halt the Young Munster train. Just past the hour mark, Walsh was again the man in the right place as he was too strong for the Shannon defence from close range.
There was still time for a fifth home try when a Shannon knock-on in their own 22 put Munsters in scoring range. Corcoran finished in the corner after number 8 Diarmaid Dee’s break off the back of the scrum. Airey made it four out of five with another excellent conversion, the result moving the Cookies up to sixth, level on 34 points with UCD and three clear of the relegation zone. Their final round trip to Terenure is a massive game for both clubs.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Conor Hayes; Derek Corcoran, Luke Fitzgerald, Evan O’Gorman, Darragh O’Neill; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; David Begley, Ger Slattery, Conor Bartley, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Conor Mitchell, Dan Walsh, Diarmaid Dee.
Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Paul Allen, Fintan Coleman, John Foley, Stephen Kerins.
SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Nathan Randles, Pa Ryan, Robbie Deegan, Eathon Moloney; Ben Daly, Aran Hehir; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey (capt), Jade Kriel, Luke Moylan, Jade Kriel, Colm Heffernan.
Replacements: Ty Chan, Ciaran Parker, Charlie Carmody, Fionn McGibney, Stephen Fitzgerald.
UCD 12 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 18, Belfield Bowl (played on Thursday)
Scorers: UCD: Pens: Conall Doherty 4
Dublin University: Tries: Rob Russell, Dan Sheehan; Con: James Fennelly; Pens: James Fennelly 2
HT: UCD 6 Dublin University 5
High-flying Dublin University retained the Colours title for the first time since 1996 as they dug deep to overcome arch rivals UCD 18-12 at a rain-hit Belfield Bowl onThursday.
With Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winner Rob Russell and Dan Sheehan scoring the only tries in the 67th edition of the Colours, this was a huge result for fourth-placed Trinity as they qualified for their first ever Division 1A semi-final. They are a full nine points clear of fifth-placed Garryowen who visit College Park next Saturday in what was supposed to be a shootout for that last play-off spot.
Dropping from sixth to seventh after this result, UCD were seeking a win to secure their top flight status and were bolstered by the inclusion of Leinster’s fit-again scrum half Nick McCarthy. Indeed, it was College who drew first blood with a sixth-minute penalty from impressive full-back Conall Doherty who proved to be their only scorer on the night.
There were plenty of knock-ons and stop-start phases in the difficult conditions, with UCD appearing to cope better as their pack set up another opportunity for Doherty. He nailed the 17th minute place-kick for a 6-0 lead, with James Ryan’s younger brother David leading a strong midfield defence which curtailed Trinity’s forays.
However, Trinity scrum half Rowan Osborne was proving to be a real livewire, consistently sniping around the fringes of rucks and working the short side for openings. It was his clever 27th-minute break which should have set up the opening try, but his pass to the supporting Max Kearney was knocked on by the openside flanker and a gilt-edged chance was lost.
Nonetheless, the breakthrough came for Tony Smeeth’s side just after the half-hour mark with a superb surge up the right wing involving Sheehan, Reuben Pim and Osborne whose well-timed pass put winger Russell away for a straightforward finish near the corner. Out-half Micheal O’Kennedy nudged the conversion wide, leaving UCD with a 6-5 advantage to take into the break.
As the rain began to pelt down, Trinity suffered a couple of early second half setbacks as O’Kennedy fired a penalty wide from the right and their full-back and captain Colm Hogan was forced off through injury in the 45th minute. James Fennelly came on in his place and watched Doherty misfire at the other end as the one-point gap remained in place.
The exchanges were becoming far more attritional and each scoring opportunity held even greater importance. Just inside the final quarter, Fennelly, the visitors’ top scorer across the league campaign, took over the kicking duties and nudged Trinity in front for the first time. It was a brief lead as Doherty hit back with an outstanding three-pointer from distance.
Up stepped Fennelly to reply from 35 metres out, with little over 10 minutes remaining, and Smeeth’s men never looked back from there. Try as they might, UCD regained precious territory but could not create enough space in attack or draw another penalty for Doherty. Indeed, it was the clinical edge of the play-off chasers that ultimately decided the outcome as they won the Colours for the 24th time.
UCD struggled to clear from a scrum near their own line, and the industrious Trinity forwards chipped away through a series of pick-and-goes, blindside Johnny McKeown gaining serious momentum on a drive right up to the posts before Sheehan picked from the base and plunged in under the posts. Fennelly converted for a nine-point cushion before Doherty responded with the last kick of the game, collecting a losing bonus point which could be important in the final shake-up next week.
UCD: Conall Doherty; Ross Deegan, David Ryan, Paul Kiernan, Andy Marks; Matthew Gilsenan, Nick McCarthy; Emmet Burns, Richie Bergin, Liam Hyland, Emmet MacMahon, Tom Treacy, Cian Prendergast, Alex Penny (capt), Jonny Guy.
Replacements: Sean Molony, Sam Griffin, Evin Coyle, Stephen McVeigh, Brian Cawley, Nick Peters, Jack Ringrose.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan (capt), Rob Russell, James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Ronan Quinn; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Cian O’Dwyer, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Bart Vermeulen, Arthur Greene, Paddy Nulty, Conor Lowndes, James Fennelly, Luis Faria.