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Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 1 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 1 Review

UCC have gone straight to the top of the Division 1A table following their 30-20 bonus point triumph over student rivals Dublin University ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

UCC are the first round leaders in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A, standing out as the only team to pick up a try-scoring bonus point on a weather-beaten opening day in the top flight.



Scorers: Ballynahinch: Try: Rhys O’Donnell; Con: Sean O’Hagan; Pens: Sean O’Hagan 4
Terenure College: Tries: Liam Hyland, Penalty try, Jake Swaine; Cons: Mark O’Neill, Pen try con; Pen: Jake Swaine
HT: Ballynahinch 6 Terenure College 14

Terenure College forced an injury-time scrum penalty which Jake Swaine turned into the match-winning points as they edged out Ballynahinch 22-19 in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A.

Ballynahinch, last season’s Division 1B champions, went close to turning over much-fancied Terenure on their return to the top tier. Former Ulster Academy player Sean O’Hagan kicked 14 points but the Dubliners, who claimed the Leinster Senior League title last week, outscored their hosts by three tries to one.

In wet and windy conditions at Ballymacarn Park, out-half O’Hagan opened the scoring with a sixth minute penalty before ‘Hinch’s efforts to go for the corner were spoiled by a costly turnover. Swaine showed his pace off the mark when he went close to touching down from a kick chase, and a bout of scrum pressure into a stiff breeze had the visitors on the cusp of scoring.

Now coached by Sean Skehan, Terenure had the upper hand at set-piece time and mined two tries in the space of four minutes. Prop Liam Hyland drove over for the first one in the 29th minute, and with ‘Hinch having to concede a five-metre scrum soon after, they coughed up a penalty try in the 34th minute as tighthead Hyland and company outscrummaged them again.

Brian McLaughlin’s side regrouped and scored right on half-time, a neat show-and-go from Rhys O’Donnell sparking their attack and his half-back partner O’Hagan punished an offside to reduce the arrears to 14-6. However, that good work was undone in the 43rd minute when ‘Hinch spilled possession and the ever-alert Swaine kicked through to score a five-pointer.

Amid a heavier rain shower, the momentum swung back behind the Ulstermen on the hour mark as O’Hagan slotted over successive penalties for a 19-12 scoreline – and even better followed in the 62nd minute. O’Donnell tapped a kickable penalty and darted in under the posts for O’Hagan to kick a levelling conversion.

Terenure relied on their scrum to give them one final scoring chance, which Swaine coolly sent through the uprights to restore their lead. There was still time for ‘Hinch to heap pressure back on the Dubliners and work a drop goal opportunity for O’Hagan. Unfortunately for the home support, his right-footed kick dropped short of the target and ‘Nure took home the points.

BALLYNAHINCH: Ross Adair; George Pringle, Stuart Morrow, Ryan Wilson, Aaron Cairns; Sean O’Hagan, Rhys O’Donnell; Ben Cullen, Connor Piper, Jonny Blair, James Simpson, John Donnan (capt), Aaron Hall, Ollie Loughead, Conall Boomer.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Nacho Cladera Crespo, Bradley Luney, Gregg Hutley, Conor Rankin.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Tim Schmidt; Sam Coghlan Murray, Adam La Grue, Stephen O’Neill, Jake Swaine; Mark O’Neill, Jamie Glynn; Campbell Classon, Robbie Smyth, Liam Hyland, Mike Murphy, Michael Melia, Peter Claffey, Paddy Thornton (capt), Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Dewald Barnard, Tiernan Creagh, Niall O’Sullivan, Caolan Dooley, Sam Dardis.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Try: Greg Higgins; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 3
Garryowen: Try: Tommy O’Hora; Con: Jamie Heuston; Pens: Jamie Heuston 2
HT: Cork Constitution 3 Garryowen 6

Aidan Moynihan rescued a tense 14-13 win from the jaws of defeat for reigning league champions Cork Constitution at home to Garryowen.

Cork Con were far from their best as they kicked off their Division 1A title defence in wet conditions at Temple Hill, but their composure under immense pressure was rewarded with out-half Moynihan’s last-minute match-winning penalty from 35 metres out.

It was a cruel finish for Garryowen who had led 6-3 at half-time and were within a few minutes of an opening victory courtesy of winger Tommy O’Hora’s 76th-minute try. They fell behind to a sixth-minute penalty from Moynihan, with the visitors caught offside following an initial break by centre Greg Higgins.

The home back-line was book-ended by two familiar faces in Tomas Quinlan, who has returned after a season with French club Narbonne, and former Munster scrum half Duncan Williams who has decided to play on at 33. Con had five league debutants on the day – Bruce Matthews, John Sutton, Pat Casey, Richard Cassidy and Soren Minihane.

The Light Blues ended the first quarter level, though, as a similar attack led to Jamie Heuston splitting the posts in the 17th minute. Full-back Heuston rifled over his second penalty just before the break, giving Conan Doyle’s men a brief lead, but he was off target with an attempt, six minutes into the second half.

With Paul Barr’s departure from the Con coaching team, Johnny Holland has taken more responsibility for their attack and it began to fire during a tightly-contested third quarter. Seizing upon a poor clearance, Higgins slalomed his way over in the left corner for a 53rd-minute unconverted try which opened up an 8-6 lead.

Con’s direct running was paying dividends, and a purposeful run out of defence from Jack Costigan led to Moynihan landing another penalty. This Munster derby went right down to the wire as Garryowen’s resilient forwards carried strongly under the baton of replacement scrum half Rob Guerin.

They got within striking range in the 22 off a lineout on the left and a neat sidestep and burst of pace from O’Hora took him over to the right of the posts. Heuston split the sides with a brilliant conversion, only for Moynihan to have the final say right at the death.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Tomas Quinlan; Bruce Matthews, Jack Costigan, Greg Higgins, Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Duncan Williams; Gavin Duffy, Max Abbott, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Evan Mintern.

Replacements: John Sutton, Pat Carey, James Murphy, Richard Cassidy, Soren Minehan.

GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Cian O’Shea, Bryan Fitzgerald, John Hurley, Tommy O’Hora; David McCarthy, Evan Maher; Conor Fitzgerald, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Roy Whelan, Kevin Seymour, Jonathan Keane, Conor Walsh, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Derry Gleeson, Jack Mullany, Tim Ferguson, Rob Guerin, Jamin Hoffman.

Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Donnacha Mescal, James Moriarty; Cons: Micheal O’Kennedy 2; Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 2
UCC: Tries: Rob Hedderman, Rory Suttor, Matthew Bowen 2; Cons: James Taylor 2; Pens: James Taylor 2
HT: Dublin University 10 UCC 13

Two second half tries from elusive winger Matthew Bowen inspired UCC’s 30-20 bonus point win away to Dublin University in the opening round.

The well-drilled Cork side got the better of their student rivals, who were beaten semi-finalists last season, with Rob Hedderman and Bowen chipping in with tries from the back-three and Australian newcomer Rory Suttor, a bustling flanker, marking his Division 1A debut with a try.

UCC had retained their top flight status last May via the play-offs and the deadlock was broken at College Park by their ever-accurate out-half James Taylor. The youngster, who accumulated a division-leading 188 points last season, knocked over a 35-metre penalty from the right, following some excellent work by the pack, led by dynamic number 8 Daire Feeney.

Leinster commitments had robbed Trinity of some of their frontliners, including scrum half Rowan Osborne who made his GUINNESS PRO14 debut on Friday against the Ospreys. Osborne’s regular club half-back partner Micheal O’Kennedy missed a penalty before UCC went close to scoring the opening try, centre Cian Bohane breaking at pace and linking with Hedderman who knocked on before he could put Bowen over in the corner.

Taylor doubled the visitors’ lead with a second successful penalty and then Hedderman was freed up to touch down in the 17th minute, the initial momentum coming from a Taylor kick which was taken down by the increasingly-influential Bohane.

The talented number 10 converted with aplomb for a 13-0, but Trinity had the better of proceedings in the lead up to half-time and cut the gap to just three points.

O’Kennedy opened their account with a penalty, and only some superb UCC defence prevented the hosts from scoring from a couple of lineout mauls. Nonetheless, with UCC prop Rob Loftus sent to the sin-bin, Trinity hooker Donnacha Mescal finished off a well-executed lineout drive with a timely converted score.

14-man UCC resumed in better fettle, going through the phases for Suttor to notch their second try of the game which went unconverted. Scrum half John Poland then released Bowen for a well-taken 49th minute try, the winger collecting his own kick to go over in the corner and Taylor supplied another superbly-struck conversion from out wide.

Despite an O’Kennedy penalty which reduced the arrears to 25-13, Trinity found it difficult to get their hands on clean ball. It finally arrived inside the final 10 minutes, centre James Moriarty exploiting a gap to the left of the posts to make it a five-point game and set up a grandstand finish.

Trinity attempted a final surge off an attacking lineout, only to immediately hand momentum back to their hungry Cork opponents. UCC bravely decided to push for a bonus point in the dying embers, and they were rewarded when Bowen expertly evaded a cover tackle to score again in the left corner.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Luis Faria; Ronan Quinn, James Hickey (capt), James Moriarty, Hugh Twomey; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louis O’Reilly; Bart Vermeulen, Donnacha Mescal, Aziz Naser, Arthur Greene, Joseph McCarthy, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Paddy Nulty.

Replacements: Mark Nicholson, Giuseppe Coyne, Reuben Pim, Tomas Killeen, James Fennelly.

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Murray Linn, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Matthew Bowen; James Taylor, John Poland; Bryan O’Connor, Fergus Hennessy, Rob Loftus, Cian Barry, Richard Thompson, Aiden Brien, Rory Suttor, Daire Feeney (capt).

Replacements: Tadgh McCarthy, Tom Ormond, Ryan Murphy, Michael Clune, Brian Slater.

LANSDOWNE 33 UCD 3, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Fergal Cleary, Adam Boland 2; Cons: Tim Foley 3; Pens: Tim Foley 4
UCD: Pen: Matthew Gilsenan
HT: Lansdowne 9 UCD 3

Debutant out-half Tim Foley starred for Lansdowne with an 18-point kicking contribution in their runaway 33-3 victory over UCD on Saturday afternoon.

Facing his former College team-mates, Foley punished any indiscipline from the students with four well-struck penalties and also converted tries from Fergal Cleary and Adam Boland (2). It was a heavy loss for Kevin Croke in his first league match as UCD head coach.

These sides had played out a stunning 14-try encounter at the same venue back in March, which Lansdowne won 57-31 in emphatic fashion. But the difficult wet conditions for the rematch on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch saw both take a more pragmatic approach, particularly with a number of new players on board and defences largely on top.

A trio of penalties from Foley, who formed a workmanlike half-back partnership with Ross Barron, gave Mike Ruddock’s men a 9-3 interval lead. UCD number 10 Matthew Gilsenan, who was a late replacement for David Moran before kick-off, landed a seventh-minute penalty which proved to be their only score.

Best on the day for UCD were Cian Prendergast, David Ryan and Bobby Sheehan, who made a good impact off the bench having gained Celtic Cup experience with Leinster ‘A’ of late. Gilsenan blotted his copybook with two first half penalties, including one from almost in front of the posts.

Barron and new Lansdowne captain Jack Dwan led the way for the headquarters club with their infectious work-rate under the autumnal rain, while former Leinster, Munster and Saracens lock Mark Flanagan was inches away from a debut try.

Both sides suffered sin-binnings, Lansdowne losing flanker Jack O’Sullivan shortly before half-time and UCD forwards Evin Coyle and Alex Penny seeing yellow in the second period.

Those tries eventually arrived during the final 25 minutes, UCD’s resistance broken by a fourth Foley penalty and a smartly-taken try from centre Cleary. Foley set up the try with a skyscraper of a kick which came down behind the UCD line, and with three defenders scrambling for the ball, it was Cleary who swooped in to score from it.

It was a decisive cushion at 19-3 and it grew further with replacement hooker Boland using the hosts’ potent lineout platform to muscle over for two closing seven-pointers in the dying minutes. Man-of-the-match Foley knocked over both conversions, one of which was was brilliantly lobbed over from the touchline.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, James Reynolds; Tim Foley, Ross Barron; Martin Mulhall, James Rael, Greg McGrath, Mark Flanagan, Jack Dwan (capt), Jack O’Sullivan, Joey Szpara, Neal Moylett.

Replacements: Adam Boland, Shane Moynihan, Jack Dinneen, Tim Murphy, Conor Murphy.

UCD: Steven Kilgallen; Jack Ringrose, Colm Mulcahy, David Ryan, Tim Carroll; Matthew Gilsenan, Thomas Foley; Emmet Burns, Sean McNulty, Evin Coyle, Tom Treacy, Cian Prendergast, John Fairley, Alex Penny, Lorcan Feighery.

Replacements: Bobby Sheehan, Rory Mulvihill, Alec Byrne, Harry Donnelly, Andy Marks.

Scorers: Young Munster: Pens: Evan Cusack 2
Clontarf: Try: Tadgh McElroy; Con: Sean Kearns
HT: Young Munster 0 Clontarf 0

Former Ireland Under-20 hooker Tadgh McElroy crossed for the only try in Clontarf’s hard-fought 7-6 triumph over Young Munster at Tom Clifford Park.

The 22-year-old, who is back in Ireland after spells with the Saracens Academy and Bedford Blues, came off the bench to score a crucial 71st-minute try, converted by another of ‘Tarf’s new signings, full-back Sean Kearns.

Two penalties from Division 1A debutant Evan Cusack had Young Munster in control heading into the closing stages, but the north Dubliners stuck to their guns to come out on top of game that was played in atrocious conditions for long periods.

It was Clontarf who made all the running early doors with Kearns’ probing runs on the right causing plenty of issues for the home defence. Munsters were caught offside in the third minute but former Cookie Gearoid Lyons’ penalty from outside the 22 went to the left of the posts.

An excellent move involving Andrew Feeney, Lyons and Matt D’Arcy almost broke the deadlock just moments later, but the slippery conditions saw the final pass not go to hand. It was a similar tale for the remainder of the first half as both sides struggled to hold onto the ball due to the rain-soaked conditions.

Young Munster began to dominate as the half drew to a close, but were unable to find a way through a resolute ‘Tarf defence. Gearoid Prendergast’s side eventually put points on the board four minutes into the second half with former Thomond out-half Cusack’s first penalty attempt.

The Limerick men enjoyed a period of dominance as the conditions improved in the second period and were rewarded when Cusack was on target again in the 55th minute. However, they were dealt a blow when replacement prop Paul Allen was sin-binned and ‘Tarf soon took advantage with the extra man.

They set up phase after phase inside Munsters’ 22 and Dundalk youngster McElroy went straight through from the base of the ruck and dived in under the posts for his all-important try. Kearns added the extras to seal a smash-and-grab success for Andy Wood’s men.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Jason Kiely; Derek Corcoran, Harry Fleming, Luke Fitzgerald, Keelan Stephenson; Evan Cusack, Nicky Irwin; Eoin O’Neill, Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Alan Kennedy (capt), John Foley, Fintan Coleman, Conor Mitchell, Jordan Stewart.

Replacements: Ger Slattery, Paul Allen, Mikey Madden, Darren Ryan, Charlie O’Doherty.

CLONTARF: Sean Kearns; Seni Reilly Ashiru, Fiachra Smith, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; Gearoid Lyons, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Darragh Bolger, Valentine Tauamiti, Ben Reilly, Tom Ryan, Tony Ryan, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, JP Phelan, Ruadhan Byron, Angus Lloyd, David Joyce.