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Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 3 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 3 Review

UCC's two-try scrum half John Poland gets his kick away, despite the best efforts of Young Munster's Josh Wycherley ©Liam Coughlan

The first three-week block of Energia All-Ireland League fixtures came to an exciting conclusion on Saturday, with leaders UCC, Terenure College and Cork Constitution retaining their unbeaten records.


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YOUNG MUNSTER 14 UCC 20, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Jordan Stewart, Evan O’Gorman; Cons: Evan Cusack 2
UCC: Tries: John Poland 2; Cons: James Taylor, John Poland; Pens: James Taylor 2
HT: Young Munster 14 UCC 13

UCC made it three wins from three in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A after a hard-fought 20-14 triumph over Young Munster at Tom Clifford Park on Saturday afternoon.

A try in either half from John Poland helped the table-topping Cork outfit to maintain their 100% record. James Taylor slotted eight points from the kicking tee, while his half-back partner Poland also converted his own try in the second half.

Second-from-bottom Munsters are now without a win from their opening three games of the campaign, despite tries from Jordan Stewart and Evan O’Gorman – both of which were converted by Evan Cusack.

It was the home side that made all the running early on and hit the front on eight minutes. Successive penalties put Munsters deep into the UCC 22, and the ball went out the backs where good hands from Cusack and Luke Fitzgerald put Stewart over in the right corner. Cusack added a superb conversion.

UCC came thundering back down the pitch, but issues at the set piece saw several attacks come to nothing. However, a stroke of luck helped Brian Walsh’s youngsters to respond in the 22nd minute when a skyscraper of a garryowen by Taylor was not dealt with by several Munsters players.

Poland was quick to pick up the loose ball and dart over from five metres out. Taylor nailed the easy effort for the extras to level the contest at sevens points each.

The talented young out-half was successful with a penalty on the half hour mark after a couple of big carries from captain and number 8 Ryan Murphy. Taylor made it three-from-three, four minutes before half-time, to leave his side 13-7 to the good.

However, it was Young Munster that went in at the break in front after a scintillating O’Gorman run. He took the ball on the UCC 10-metre line and barged through a couple of defenders, before delivering a hand-off to Rob Hedderman and touching down under the posts.

Again, Cusack was on target from the tee to edge the Limerick men back in front at 14-13. Gearoid Prendergast’s Cookies had much of the possession and territory in the early part of the second half, but were unable to improve their slender lead.

UCC were then dealt a blow when Taylor left the field injured after 47 minutes, but took the lead again on the hour. After Murphy had been held up, they showed great patience from the resulting scrum and eventually the pressure told with Poland sniping over.

The former Munster half-back made no mistake with the conversion that put UCC six points ahead. Young Munster had chances to get back in front several times in the final quarter, but each time the final pass did not go to hand.

A five-metre scrum in the final minute provided them with one final chance, but man-of-the-match Poland was on hand to clear for UCC after the ball had squirted out of the scrum.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Shane Airey; Luke Fitzgerald, Harry Fleming, Evan O’Gorman, Nicky Irwin; Evan Cusack, Charlie O’Doherty; Josh Wycherley, Ger Slattery, Conor Bartley, Alan Kennedy (capt), Mike Madden, John Foley, Darren Ryan, Jordan Stewart.

Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Paul Allen, Fintan Coleman, Jack Lyons, Derek Corcoran.

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Murray Linn, Louis Bruce, Peter Sylvester, Matt Bowen; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Tadgh McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Cian Barry, Richard Thompson, Daire Feeney, Rory Suttor, Ryan Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Fergus Hennessy, Tom Ormond, Aiden Brien, Finn Burke, Brian Slater.

BALLYNAHINCH 20 UCD 23, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Aaron Cairns, Ross Adair; Cons: Sean O’Hagan 2; Pens: Sean O’Hagan 2
UCD: Tries: Sean McNulty, Luke Maloney, Stephen McVeigh, Ronan Foley; Pen: David Moran
HT: Ballynahinch 10 UCD 18

UCD climbed into Division 1A’s top four thanks to a nail-biting 23-20 success away to Brian McLaughlin’s Ballynahinch side.

Both sides were boosted by provincial reinforcements at Ballymacarn Park, and it was UCD who started and finished the scoring thanks to an early David Moran and a decisive 74th-minute try from influential flanker Ronan Foley.

Out-halves Moran and Sean O’Hagan swapped penalties before the students lost winger Eoin Barr to the sin-bin for taking a player out in the air. ‘Hinch capitalised straight away, with Ross Adair’s break paving the way for former captain Aaron Cairns to cross the whitewash and make it 10-3.

A UCD pack containing Leinster ‘A’ Celtic Cup-winning duo Charlie Ryan and Foley forced the issue during a dominant spell in the ‘Hinch 22. The hosts held out through prolonged phases until their captain John Donnan saw yellow. Sean McNulty was driven over from the resulting lineout maul, closing the gap to two points.

The visitors made it 15 points without reply with a dream two-try finish to the first half. A blindside attack from a five-metre scrum put Luke Maloney over out wide, and number 8 Stephen McVeigh slipped in a timely third score thanks to an attack which originated with a fleet-footed attack from their own half.

Now trailing 18-10, ‘Hinch had to steady the ship following a yellow card for Ulster’s Clive Ross and a rare O’Hagan penalty miss. They turned to O’Hagan and Adair for inspiration, the latter finishing off a well-executed chip-and-collect effort from the former to make it a one-point game.

The County Down men went close to notching a third try – scrum half Rhys O’Donnell’s trademark show-and-go almost saw the UCD line breached again – but a precise penalty goal from O’Hagan did nudge them back in front with 17 minutes remaining.

Unfortunately for the eager home support, ‘Hinch put up a big goal-line stand only for Foley to expertly step inside the cover from a five-metre scrum. It was enough to secure a precious away victory and a second successive win for new UCD head coach Kevin Croke.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Rankin; Aaron Cairns, Ross Adair, Ryan Wilson, George Pringle; Sean O’Hagan, Rhys O’Donnell; Kyle McCall, Zack McCall, Tommy O’Hagan, Jack Regan, John Donnan (capt), Clive Ross, Marcus Rea, Bradley Luney.

Replacements: Connor Piper, Jonny Blair, James Simpson, Paddy Wright, Gregg Hutley.

UCD: Luke Maloney; Jack Ringrose, Andy Marks, Colm Mulcahy, Eoin Barr; David Moran, Harry Donnelly; Emmet Burns, Sean McNulty, Evin Coyle, Cian Prendergast, Charlie Ryan, Jonny Guy (capt), Ronan Foley, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Richie Bergin, Rory Mulvihill, Tom Treacy, Patrick Patterson, Rob Keenan.

Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Ronan Quinn, Rob Russell, Colm Hogan, James Hickey, Arthur Greene; Cons: Micheal O’Kennedy 3; Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 2
Garryowen: Tries: Tommy O’Hora, Bryan Fitzgerald, Sean Rennison; Cons: Jamie Heuston 2
HT: Dublin University 17 Garryowen 14

After suffering back-to-back defeats, Dublin University bounced back with their first win of the new Energia All-Ireland League season as they outgunned Garryowen 37-19 at College Park.

While Garryowen led at different stages of the first half, the power and pace of Trinity saw them emerge as bonus point winners. Despite the visitors losing scrum half Rob Guerin to an early injury, his replacement Evan Maher broke from a scrum and released winger Tommy O’Hora for a 14th-minute opening try.

Full-back Jamie Heuston nailed the touchline conversion, but the students were quick to respond. Former captain Colm Hogan impressed throughout in the back-three and his powerful break into the Garryowen 22 set the wheels in motion for Rob Russell’s leveling try, converted by Micheal O’Kennedy.

Garryowen turned down a shot at the posts from a series of close-in penalties, and they were rewarded just shy of the half hour mark. Centre Bryan Fitzgerald burst through a gap for a converted score, only for Trinity winger Ronan Quinn to hit back after being set free by skipper James Hickey’s quick hands.

O’Kennedy added the extras and also landed a penalty from the right to give Tony Smeeth’s youngsters a 17-14 half-time cushion. That lead was enhanced just minutes after the restart, a patient attack moving possession wide to the left where full-back Hogan dotted down.

O’Kennedy tagged on a 51st-minute penalty as Trinity continued to dominate possession in the third quarter, with flanker Max Kearney carrying strongly. Some more patient build-up play finished with centre Hickey crossing for a try which his stellar performance deserved.

Replacement Arthur Greene was on the end of a 73rd-minute attack to register the hosts’ fifth try of the afternoon. With Trinity’s Giuseppe Coyne in the sin-bin, Garryowen number 8 Sean Rennison broke over for a late consolation score.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan; Ronan Quinn, Liam Turner, James Hickey (capt), Rob Russell; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louis O’Reilly; Bart Vermeulen, Mark Nicholson, Aziz Naser, Reuben Pim, Joseph McCarthy, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Paddy Hamilton.

Replacements: George Downey, Giuseppe Coyne, Arthur Greene, Tomas Killeen, James Fennelly.

GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Cian O’Shea, Bryan Fitzgerald, John Hurley, Tommy O’Hora; David McCarthy, Rob Guerin; Conor Fitzgerald, Derry Gleeson, Corrie Barrett, Tim Ferguson, Kevin Seymour (capt), Roy Whelan, Johnny Keane, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Anson Thai, Andy Keating, Michael Sheehan, Evan Maher, Jack Delaney.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Brian Hayes, Jack Costigan, Tomas Quinlan; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3
Lansdowne: Tries: Neal Moylett, Adam Boland; Cons: Tim Foley 2; Pen: Tim Foley
HT: Cork Constitution 14 Lansdowne 3

Tries either side of half-time from Jack Costigan and Tomas Quinlan guided Cork Constitution to a hard-earned 21-17 home win over fellow Division 1A heavyweights Lansdowne.

The reigning Division 1A champions have now beaten two of their biggest rivals in the past week, picking up five points at Clontarf and adding four yesterday at home as they stayed third in the table – just a point behind early-season pacesetters UCC.

The Temple Hill crowd lapped up lock Brian Hayes’ 10th-minute try in the corner, which saw Cork Con set out their stall early on. Brian Hickey’s charges started strongly and delivered the game’s opening score following a series of close-range lineout mauls.

They also showed that clinical edge in the 38th minute when releasing young winger Costigan for his second try in as many matches. Captain Niall Kenneally deserves the plaudits for his barnstorming break in the build-up.

Lansdowne, who had former Connacht out-half Craig Ronaldson on the bench, were 14-3 behind at the break. Their new out-half Tim Foley landed a 26th-minute penalty but that proved to the visitors’ only score until the closing stages of the contest.

The Lansdowne defence was breached again just three minutes after the break, as full-back Quinlan flew up in support to score and give the hosts an 18-point advantage. His successor in the number 10 jersey, Aidan Moynihan, fired over his third successful conversion.

However, Cork Con were sweating by the finish as Lansdowne produced some resurgent play, with the experienced Ronaldson, on his return to All-Ireland League rugby, among their replacements to make an impact.

Two of the visitors’ forwards, number 8 Neal Moylett and replacement front rower Adam Boland, muscled through for converted tries after 50 and 71 minutes respectively. It set up a grandstand finish but Con stood firm to make it three wins out of three.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Tomas Quinlan; JJ O’Neill, Jack Costigan, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Duncan Williams; Brian Scott, John Sutton, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Evan Mintern.

Replacements: Max Abbott, Luke Masters, James Murphy, Ryan Foley, Bruce Matthews.

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

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Adam Boland, Jack Dinneen, Tim Murphy, Craig Ronaldson.

CLONTARF 10 TERENURE COLLEGE 16, Castle Avenue (played on Friday)
Scorers: Clontarf: Try: Tadgh McElroy; Con: Sean Kearns; Pen: Sean Kearns
Terenure college: Try: Stephen O’Neill; Con: James Thornton; Pens: James Thornton 3
HT: Clontarf 0 Terenure College 10

Eleven points from the boot of James Thornton helped Terenure College to stave off the stubborn challenge of Clontarf at a rain-soaked Castle Avenue on Friday night.

Centre Stephen O’Neill also contributed a first half try to ensure Terenure triumphed 16-10 and remain undefeated in Division 1A. They are second in the current standings, just a point behind leaders UCC.

Sean Skehan’s side had to overcome the sending-off of Robbie Deegan, and with replacements Tadgh McElroy and Sean Kearns making a strong impact, Clontarf were well in contention coming down the home stretch.

Playing on the all-weather pitch, it was Terenure who dominated the early exchanges. The early sin-binning of opposition flanker Cian Walsh helped them to create an attacking platform and they camped inside the  ‘Tarf 22 for large spells.

Nonetheless, it was the north Dubliners who almost broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. A powerful break forward by scrum half Angus Lloyd edged the hosts towards the whitewash, and only scrambled ‘Nure defence ultimately halted the speedy half-back’s progress.

With Sam Dardis and Jake Swaine impressing in the back-three, Terenure’s own attack was looking potent. Dardis was forced into touch in the nick of time, before the visitors finally made the breakthrough nearing the half hour mark.

After a Liam Hyland carry had put ‘Nure on the front foot, O’Neill burst through a gap to claim the opening try. Out-half Thornton tagged on the extras in fine style and proceeded to add a brace of penalties prior to the interval.

Skehan’s charges took a 13-0 advantage into the second period, but they suffered a serious setback when centre Deegan received a red card after being deemed to have taken out ‘Tarf full-back Jack Power in the air. There was a delay of almost 10 minutes as Power was treated on the field.

Initially, ‘Nure coped admirably while down to 14 men. Yet, ‘Tarf’s extra man inevitably had a impact and their patience was rewarded with a converted try inside the final quarter. Former Ireland Under-20 hooker McElroy applied the finishing touches to a well-executed lineout maul on the left.

Back came ‘Nure, securing a penalty inside the ‘Tarf half and the reliable Thornton made no mistake with his fourth kick of the night. A Kearns penalty moved Clontarf into losing bonus point territory. They had a couple of opportunities right at the death, but Terenure’s terrific defence turned them over.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Seni Reilly Ashiru, Fiachra Smith, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; Gearoid Lyons, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, JP Phelan, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tom Ryan, Cian Walsh, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Ward, Ruadhan Byron, Andrew Feeney, Sean Kearns.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Jake Swaine; Matthew Byrne, Robbie Deegan, Stephen O’Neill, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Jamie Glynn; Dewald Barnard, Robbie Smyth, Liam Hyland, Stephen Caffrey, Michael Melia, Niall O’Sullivan, Paddy Thornton (capt), Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Tiernan Creagh, Niall Lalor, Mark O’Neill, Sam Dardis.