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Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 11 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 11 Review

Young Munster winger Keelan Stephenson is pictured in possession during their bonus point win over Ballynahinch at Tom Clifford Park ©Liam Coughlan

Following another eventful Saturday, the middle section of Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A remains tightly packed with just seven points separating third-placed UCD from Terenure College, in seventh spot.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, January 25

#EnergiaAILTry Of The Month has returned for the 2019/20 season. The competition is in its third year and entries are now open to tries scored in all divisions of the Men’s and Women’s Energia All-Ireland League. Click here for entry information.

DIVISION 1A:

CLONTARF 41 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 23, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Cormac Daly, Matt D’Arcy, Andrew Feeney, Penalty try, Jack Power; Cons: Sean Kearns 4, Pen try con; Pens: Sean Kearns 2
Dublin University: Tries: Dylan Doyle, Ronan Quinn 2; Con: Micheal O’Kennedy; Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 2
HT: Clontarf 17 Dublin University 13

A classy Jack Power try put the finishing touches to Clontarf’s 41-23 bonus point victory over a valiant Dublin University side at Castle Avenue.

Full-back Power showed his footballing skills to scoop up the ball with his boot and scoot over from just outside the Trinity 22, sealing a five-try triumph for ‘Tarf who have climbed back into the top four.

It was three points apiece early on, Sean Kearns rewarding the home forwards for a scrum penalty and Micheal O’Kennedy cancelling that kick out after a bout of Trinity pressure on the back of a James Hickey interception.

The students were playing with renewed confidence following their win over Terenure College two weeks ago, and despite leaking a well-taken intercept try to Clontarf lock Cormac Daly, the visitors answered back impressively with a 10-point surge.

Tighthead Dylan Doyle powered over after a well-worked lineout move, and O’Kennedy added to his conversion with a well-struck penalty, rewarding a fine poach at the breakdown by Neilus Mulvihill. That left ‘Tarf 13-10 behind as half-time approached.

However, the north Dubliners fired back with a couple of excellent tries either side of the interval. Ever-influential centre Matt D’Arcy went up through the gears to dart over and make it 17-13, before scrum half Andrew Feeney sniped over from close range to widen the gap to 11 points.

‘Tarf tightened their grip with a penalty try from some scrum pressure close to the Trinity whitewash. That should have been that with the bonus point secured, but Tony Smeeth’s youngsters had other ideas and lightning-quick winger Ronan Quinn led their fight-back.

Quinn’s excellent pace and footwork took him over for two quick-fire tries in the corner, suddenly closing the gap back to eight points (31-23). Both sides were down to 14 men, midway through the final quarter, as the niggle spilled over at times.

Clontarf reacted better to those sin-binnings, though, as winger Kearns knocked over a timely penalty as part of his 14-point contribution. In the dying minutes, their third win in four games was sealed by the pacy Power’s instinctive flick-up and run-in.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Seni Reilly Ashiru, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Sean Kearns; Gearoid Lyons, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Jack Aungier, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tom Ryan, Tom Byrne, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Cathal O’Flynn, Sam Garvey, Ed Brennan, Angus Lloyd, Conor Kelly.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan; Robert Russell, Gavin Jones, James Hickey (capt), Ronan Quinn; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louise O’Reilly; Bart Vermeulen, Mark Nicholson, Dylan Doyle, Arthur Greene, Neilus Mulvihill, Paddy Nulty, Max Kearney, Alan Francis.

Replacements: Donnacha Mescal, Darren Magee, Aaron Coleman, Tomas Killeen, Dave Fitzgibbon.

TERENURE COLLEGE 16 LANSDOWNE 17, Lakelands Park
Scorers: Terenure College: Try: Paddy Thornton; Con: James Thornton; Pens: James Thornton 3
Lansdowne: Tries: Oisin Dowling, Dan Sheehan; Cons: Tim Foley 2; Pen: Tim Foley
HT: Terenure College 6 Lansdowne 10

Leinster Academy hooker Dan Sheehan contributed another important try as Lansdowne struck late to overcome Terenure College 17-16 at Lakelands Park.

Tim Foley converted Sheehan’s injury-time score to make it five successive wins for Mark McHugh’s men, with Terenure, despite an 11-point haul from out-half James Thornton, falling to their fifth defeat in six rounds.

Eager to bounce back from a 13-6 loss at Dublin University a fortnight ago, Terenure showed plenty of early intent with Sam Coghlan Murray and Caolan Dooley both prominent in possession. Lansdowne were struggling to break out of their own half.

‘Nure flanker Niall O’Sullivan surged into the 22 in the 11th minute, helping to set up a penalty which Thornton sent over to break the deadlock. He doubled the lead with a 35-metre place-kick close to the half-hour mark.

Full-back Foley finally got Lansdowne up and running with a routine three-pointer, but he missed his second shot at the posts after Terenure hooker Robbie Smyth had been sin-binned.

Lansdowne’s numerical advantage eventually took hold when Leinster-capped lock Oisin Dowling spotted a gap and crossed on the stroke of half-time. Foley supplied the extras to give the visitors a 10-6 buffer at the break.

Terenure turned the screw on the resumption, and although a long-range penalty attempt from Thornton fell short in the 44th minute, impressive full-back Adam La Grue’s lung-busting run gave them front-foot ball and plenty of momentum.

Sean Skehan’s charges worked the ball through the middle for a number of phases before moving it wide for replacement Paddy Thornton to dot down in clinical fashion. James Thornton followed up with a superb conversion, making it 13-10.

‘Nure controlled possession with Lansdowne guilty of a number of uncharacteristic handling errors. The hosts knocked on close to the Lansdowne line, entering the final quarter, but a subsequent scrum penalty allowed Thornton to extend the lead to six points.

Crucially, Lansdowne were able to force the issue past the 80-minute mark, camping inside the ‘Nure 22 with a series of mauls bringing them into scoring range. Terenure held out until the 21-year-old Sheehan applied the finishing touches under a slew of bodies. Foley comfortably converted to seal a late smash-and-grab victory.

TERENURE COLLEGE: Adam La Grue; Jake Swaine, Stephen O’Neill, Caolan Dooley, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Mark Fabian; Campbell Classen, Robbie Smyth, Liam Hyland, Peter Claffey, Michael Melia (capt), Stephen Caffrey, Niall O’Sullivan, Eoin Joyce.

Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Adam Tuite, Paddy Thornton, Mark O’Neill, Sam Dardis.

LANSDOWNE: Tim Foley; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Conall Doherty, Peter Sullivan; Craig Ronaldson, James Kenny; Martin Mulhall, Dan Sheehan, Greg McGrath, Oisin Dowling, Jack Dwan (capt), Jack O’Sullivan, Mark Boyle, Darragh Murphy.

Replacements: Conor Gleeson, Adam Boland, Matt Healy, Ross Barron, Ian Fitzpatrick.

UCC 7 GARRYOWEN 15, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Try: Rory Suttor; Con: James Taylor
Garryowen: Tries: Cian O’Shea, Colm Quilligan, Jamie Heuston
HT: UCC 0 Garryowen 5

Garryowen’s starting back-three grabbed a try each as they held off UCC for a hard-fought 15-7 Munster derby success at the Mardyke.

Colm Quilligan and Jamie Heuston touched down in the second half to add to winger Cian O’Shea’s lone first half score. Second-placed Garryowen now have a seven-point advantage over UCD in the battle for a home semi-final.

UCC deserved at least a losing bonus point given the manner of their performance. They were led superbly by captain Ryan Murphy and his back row colleague Rory Suttor whose 65th-minute try made for a gripping finish.

The Cork students remain locked in a three-way tie with Dublin University and Ballynahinch at the foot of the Division 1A table, and were kicking themselves after falling to convert a gilt-edged first half opportunity.

A terrific 30-metre break from lock Richard Thompson had UCC on the cusp of a try, yet supporting scrum half Louis Kahn was stopped just short of the line. The breakthrough came at the other end in the 26th minute as Garryowen’s backs and forwards combined to force the opening try.

O’Shea crossed from close range following some hard carrying from Andy Keating and company, before crisp passing across the back-line released the left winger for the corner. Defences were on top for the remainder of a first half which finished 5-0.

It was right winger Quilligan’s turn just a couple of minutes after the restart, as he finished off a fine intercept effort from 40 metres out. It was the promising youngster’s fourth try in the last five rounds, edging his team closer to a season’s double over UCC.

25-10 winners of the home fixture last month, Garryowen made it 15 points without reply when their powerful pack took their Cork counterparts through 20-plus phases. The defensive workload took its toll as the ball was worked through hands again and a gap opened up for full-back Heuston to snipe over to the left of the posts.

The final quarter saw UCC produce some of their best play, Taylor’s well-weighted grubber kick inviting chasing centre Louis Bruce through. With a turnover forced and the home attack showing an increasing threat, Australian Suttor eventually crashed over for Taylor to convert.

Unfortunately for Brian Walsh’s youngsters, they could not capitalise on two lineout launches from the edge of Garryowen 22 during the closing minutes. Their bench made an impact, including a cracking turnover from Bryan O’Connor, but the Light Blues used their experienced to close out a well-merited win.

UCC: Murray Linn; Michael Clune, Louis Bruce, Peter Sylvester, Killian Coghlan; James Taylor, Louis Kahn; Shane O’Hanlon, Tadgh McCarthy, Rob O’Donovan, Richard Thompson, Daire Feeney, Rory Suttor, Finn Burke, Ryan Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Daniel O’Connor, Bryan O’Connor, Cian Barry, Aiden Brien, Eoin Monahan.

GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Colm Quilligan, Bryan Fitzgerald, Jack Delaney, Cian O’Shea; Dave McCarthy, Evan Maher; Mark Donnelly, Pat O’Toole, Andy Keating, Tim Ferguson, Kevin Seymour (capt), Roy Whelan, Johnny Keane, Bailey Faloon.

Replacements: Liam Cronin, Corrie Barrett, Sean Rennison, John Hurley, Paul Clancy.

UCD 25 CORK CONSTITUTION 29, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Jack Ringrose, Josh O’Connor 2, James Tarrant, Paddy Patterson
Cork Constitution: Tries: Brian Hayes, Jack Costigan, Cathal O’Flaherty, Duncan Williams; Cons: Gerry Hurley 3; Pen: Gerry Hurley
HT: UCD 10 Cork Constitution 5

UCD outscored Cork Constitution by five tries to four but fell agonisingly short of ending the Division 1A leaders’ unbeaten run at the Belfield Bowl.

Cork Con came from 20-5 down to win 29-25 and extend their winning streak this season to 11 matches. It was an excellent contest which saw three of the starting half-backs score tries and Gerry Hurley, the visitors’ stand-in out-half, land a decisive late penalty.

Con duo Hurley and Duncan Williams were prominent inside the opening minutes, a powerful break by number 8 David Hyland taking the table toppers up to the UCD 22. Nonetheless, Ronan Foley’s well-timed turnover, followed by a scrum penalty, soon had the students hunting down their first try.

It arrived in the ninth minute, some patient build-up play seeing the home forwards chip away before Josh O’Connor was stopped short and fellow winger Jack Ringrose, who is part of the Ireland Club international squad, was able to reach over from a metre out.

James Tarrant missed the conversion from wide out on the left, but UCD ended the opening quarter 10 points to the good. Alex Penny used turnover ball to send O’Connor racing along the right wing, and with only Williams to beat, he barged through the former Munster scrum half’s attempted tackle to score near the corner.

Cork Con were struggling to make headway, and a truck-and-trailer penalty spoiled a promising lineout position. However, they opened their account on the stroke of half-time, good hands from captain Niall Kenneally and Williams releasing Cathal O’Flaherty for a barnstorming 30-metre run to the line.

With their lead halved, UCD answered back just two minutes after the break to lead 15-5. O’Connor weaved through into the Con 22, and Paddy Patterson’s sharp burst from a ruck saw him tie in two defenders and pass for his half-back partner Tarrant to cross to the right of the posts.

The Leesiders leaked a bonus point try soon after, with Foley doing brilliantly from the restart, immediately getting UCD on the front foot again. Front rowers Rory Mulvihill and Richie Bergin carried past halfway before releasing O’Connor from Con’s 10-metre line and he went over untouched in the right corner.

Tarrant suffered his fourth missed conversion, though, and that lack of extra points came back to haunt College. With Kenneally’s strong runs getting Con over the gain-line, his centre partner Jack Costigan evaded the clutches of Eoin Barr to crash over on the hour mark.

Hurley’s conversion from close to the left touchline bounced over off the crossbar, and Con notched their third try just four minutes later. Kenneally’s short pass put Hyland through a midfield hole, and wily lock Hayes picked from the ruck and charged to the right where he managed to stretch over beside the posts.

Hurley added the extras, reducing the deficit to 20-19, and it was turning into a nightmare final half-an-hour for UCD. Kenneally made more metres and Williams picked from the ruck for a textbook scrum half’s score, converted by Hurley with 69 minutes on the clock.

Not to be outdone, Leinster Academy starlet Patterson responded with a cleverly-taken try from a quick tap in the dying minutes. It briefly edged UCD back in front at 26-25, but Tarrant sent the difficult conversion narrowly wide and it was Hurley’s right boot which had the final say, rewarding Max Abbott’s breakdown work.

UCD: David Ryan; Jack Ringrose, Andy Marks, Eoin Barr, Josh O’Connor; James Tarrant, Paddy Patterson; Rory Mulvihill, Richie Bergin, Emmet Burns, Jonny Guy (capt), Bobby Leahy, Dan O’Donovan, Alex Penny, Ronan Foley.

Replacements: Ronan Loughnan, Sam Griffin, Johnny Fairley, Harry Donnelly, Luke Maloney.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Soren Minihane; Michael Hand, Jack Costigan, Niall Kenneally (capt), Bruce Matthews; Gerry Hurley, Duncan Williams; Gavin Duffy, John Sutton, Paddy Casey, Brian Hayes, Cathal O’Flaherty, James Murphy, Ross O’Neill, David Hyland.

Replacements: Max Abbott, Peter Kelleher, Michael Casey, Gary Bradley, Darragh McNamara.

YOUNG MUNSTER 35 BALLYNAHINCH 21, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Evan O’Gorman 2, Harry Fleming, Penalty try, Jack Harrington; Cons: Evan Cusack 4, Pen try con
Ballynahinch: Tries: Aaron Cairns, Rhys O’Donnell, George Pringle; Cons: Sean O’Hagan 3
HT: Young Munster 21 Ballynahinch 14

Evan O’Gorman ran in a brace of tries as Young Munster kept within reach of the play-off positions with a 35-21 bonus point win over Ballynahinch.

Munsters eventually broke ‘Hinch’s resistance during the closing stages at Tom Clifford Park, putting successive defeats to Cork Constitution behind them thanks to winger Jack Harrington’s 84th-minute try.

It was the division’s bottom side who went ahead in the 12th minute. The ‘Hinch back-line clicked into gear when Rhys O’Donnell made a break, which was well supported by Ulster Academy talent Conor Rankin, and in-form winger Aaron Cairns finished it off for his seventh try of the season.

Young centre O’Gorman levelled just a couple of minutes later, showing good strength to get past Ryan Wilson and make it seven points apiece. Munsters began the second quarter with a 14-7 lead, as Harry Fleming’s slick sidestep took him over at the end of a multi-phase attack.

Grasping his opportunity from a close-in 29th-minute scrum, O’Gorman, the former Ireland Under-18 Clubs captain, was fed to snap up his second score of the afternoon. Evan Cusack converted once again, but ‘Hinch hit back with an opportunist try right on the stroke of half-time.

Munsters scrum half Jack Lyons watched in horror as his routine kick to touch, which should have ended the opening half, was intercepted and his opposite number O’Donnell gleefully scampered in to restore the seven-point difference.

The tit-for-tat scoring continued in the second period, the Cookies starting the quicker this time as their dominant scrum earned them a 48th-minute penalty try for a 28-14 lead. Yet, following a yellow card each, ‘Hinch struck with a neatly-finished 66th-minute score from George Pringle, converted by Sean O’Hagan.

Young Munster redoubled their efforts against their injury-hit opponents, and ahead of their own Gearoid Prendergast’s debut next week as Ireland Club XV head coach, they conjured up a textbook clincher.

A neat 8-9 move saw them break to the right of a scrum in the ‘Hinch 22 and Harrington shipped a tackle but had just enough room to stretch over. The losing bonus point, which would have moved Brian McLaughlin’s men off the bottom of the table, was snatched away from them.

Out-half Cusack made it a 14-point winning margin with a terrific conversion from the touchline, moving his season’s haul to 84 points which keeps him top of the Division 1A scoring charts.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Jason Kiely; Jack Harrington, Harry Fleming, Evan O’Gorman, Keelan Stephenson; Evan Cusack, Jack Lyons; David Begley, Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Alan Kennedy (capt), Sean Rigney, John Foley, Conor Mitchell, Jordan Stewart.

Replacements: Shane Fenton, Michael Doran, Tom Goggin, Luke Fitzgerald, Fintan Coleman.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Rankin; Connor Phillips, George Pringle, Ryan Wilson, Aaron Cairns; Sean O’Hagan, Rhys O’Donnell; Ben Cullen, Zack McCall, Jonny Blair, Jack Regan, John Donnan (capt), Clive Ross, Marcus Rea, Callum Irvine.

Replacements: Conor Piper, Nacho Cladera Crespo, James Simpson, Gregg Hutley, Ben McMullan.