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Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 12 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A: Round 12 Review

Winger James Reynolds struck for a crucial late try in Lansdowne's dramatic home victory over Clontarf in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A ©INPHO/Brian Reilly-Troy

There was high drama in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A over the weekend, with Lansdowne pipping Clontarf to move back into the top four and Jamie Heuston’s late drop proving decisive for Garryowen against Terenure College.

ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, February 15

#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:

BALLYNAHINCH 5 CORK CONSTITUTION 16, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Try: Marcus Rea
Cork Constitution: Try: Brian Hayes; Con: Gerry Hurley; Pens: Gerry Hurley 3
HT: Ballynahinch 0 Cork Constitution 10

Cork Constitution came through another stern test of their Energia All-Ireland League title credentials by winning 16-5 at bottom side Ballynahinch.

Experienced campaigners Gerry Hurley and Brian Hayes returned from Ireland Club XV duty to score all of Cork Con’s points between them. Hayes’ first half try proved vital in horrendously wet and windy conditions at Ballymacarn Park.

Munster winger Darren Sweetnam, who is returning from a hamstring injury, got some valuable game-time on Con’s left wing, and the visitors were also able to give starts to Alex McHenry, Jonathan Wren and Liam O’Connor.

Ballynahinch had a strong Ulster-infused spine to their starting XV with Jack Regan, Zack McCall, Clive Ross, Marcus Rea and Conor Rankin all involved. They fell behind to a Hurley penalty from in front of the posts.

Defences were on top until just before half-time when second row Hayes forced his way over beside the posts, allowing Hurley to make it 10-0 at the break. The league leaders showed the better game management and were clinical from their limited scoring opportunities.

In response, ‘Hinch were struggling to break down Con’s defensive line, and despite thwarting the Con maul when a try seemed certain, the deficit grew for the hosts as out-half Hurley punished their indiscipline with two more three-pointers.

His final penalty kick came after Ballynahinch winger Aaron Cairns was dispatched to the sin-bin. A knock-on and a scrum penalty prevented Brian McLaughlin’s men from scoring until a late consolation effort from Ulster-capped flanker Rea, but it was not enough to deny Con their 12th straight Division 1A win.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Rankin; Paddy Wright, Callum McLaughlin, Aaron Cairns, Ross Adair; Sean O’Hagan, Chris Gibson; Ben Cullen, Zack McCall, Jonny Blair, Jack Regan, John Donnan (capt), Clive Ross, Marcus Rea, Conall Boomer.

Replacements: Conor Piper, Nacho Cladera Crespo, James Simpson, Bradley Luney, Greg Hutley.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Jonathan Wren; JJ O’Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Darren Sweetnam; Gerry Hurley, Duncan Williams; Liam O’Connor, John Sutton, Rory Burke, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, David Hyland.

Replacements: Max Abbott, Brendan Quinlan, Michael Casey, Gary Bradley, Billy Crowley.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 9 YOUNG MUNSTER 21, College Park
Scorers: Dublin University: Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 3
Young Munster: Tries: Alan Kennedy, Sean Rigney, Luke Fitzgerald; Cons: Evan Cusack 3
HT: Dublin University 9 Young Munster 21

Fresh from captaining the Ireland Club team to last week’s Dalriada Cup success, Alan Kennedy drove Young Munster to a deserved 21-9 victory over second-from-bottom Dublin University.

In very wet and windy conditions at College Park, Kennedy’s 19th-minute try set the tone for Munsters as they claimed back-to-back wins to stay within reach of the top four.

Struggling Trinity faced into a strong first half wind, and the visitors made the breakthrough when lock Kennedy finished off a bout of pressure from the forwards in the 22. Evan Cusack supplied the conversion.

Replying to a Micheal O’Kennedy penalty at the other end, a second Young Munster seven-pointer followed when Kennedy galloped through the home defence, and Trinity could not hold out as his second row partner Sean Rigney crashed over to make it 14-3.

Out-half Cusack impressed with a pinpoint cross-field kick to set up Luke Fitzgerald’s converted try on the half-hour mark. Turnovers were costing Trinity but two more O’Kennedy penalties cut the gap to 21-9 by half-time.

Unfortunately for Tony Smeeth’s youngsters, they were unable to take advantage of a David Begley yellow card. Worsening conditions hampered their comeback bid despite the best efforts of Colm Hogan, another of the Ireland Club XV contingent on show, Jack Dunne and skipper James Hickey.

Credit to the Cookies, they defended smartly and remain sixth in the table, four points behind fourth-placed Lansdowne whom they host next Saturday. Trinity must regroup quickly for an all-important basement battle with Ballynahinch up at Ballymacarn Park.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan; Rob Russell, Gavin Jones, James Hickey (capt), Liam McMahon; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louis O’Reilly; Bart Vermeulen, Mark Nicholson, Dylan Doyle, Arthur Greene, Jack Dunne, Alex Soroka, Johnny McKeown, Anthony Ryan.

Replacements: George Downing, Darren Magee, Neilus Mulvihill, Tomas Killeen, James Fennelly.

YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Jason Kiely, Harry Fleming, Evan O’Gorman, Luke Fitzgerald; Evan Cusack, Charlie O’Doherty; David Begley, Mark O’Mara, Conor Bartley, Sean Rigney, Alan Kennedy (capt), Fintan Coleman, Conor Mitchell, Jordan Stewart.

Replacements: Fergal Lawler, Josh Wycherley, Tom Goggin, Keelan Stephenson, Derek Corcoran.

GARRYOWEN 8 TERENURE COLLEGE 5, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Garryowen: Try: Alex Wootton; Drop: Jamie Heuston
Terenure College: Try: Robbie Smyth
HT: Garryowen 0 Terenure College 5

Jamie Heuston delighted the Dooradoyle faithful with a last-gasp drop goal in Garryowen’s hard-fought 8-5 defeat of Terenure College.

It has been a fortnight to remember for full-back Heuston who played his part in the Ireland Club XV’s 2-0 series win over Scotland, while he was also involved in the Ireland Police team’s 52-31 victory over their Welsh counterparts in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Saturday’s Division 1A clash was switched to Garryowen’s all-weather pitch given the strong winds and heavy rain. Terenure were quickest out of the blocks, their forwards driving hard to set up hooker Robbie Smyth for an unconverted seventh-minute try.

That proved to be the only score of an evenly-balanced first half, both sides building phases but lacking the necessary control or killer pass. ‘Nure’s resilient defence was well manned with Peter Claffey and captain Paddy Thornton putting in big shifts up front.

Munster’s Alex Wootton showed his finishing ability out wide to bring Garryowen level, the conversion proving too difficult for Heuston on this occasion. A stalemate ensued and a draw was looking the most likely result as the minutes ticked by.

That was until Garryowen mustered one last surge, using set piece ball to work ‘Nure through 16 phases, edging closer and closer to the posts. A Jack Stafford snipe had them in position and Dave McCarthy stepped in to play scrum half, sending the ball back for Heuston to squeeze over his decisive 15-metre drop goal.

It was the Light Blues’ eighth victory in nine rounds, moving them a step closer to a home semi-final. They still have a seven-point advantage over third-placed UCD. Meanwhile, ‘Nure have the same gap to third-from-bottom UCC below them, following their third successive loss.

GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Alex Wootton, Bryan Fitzgerald, Jack Delaney, Cian O’Shea; Dave McCarthy, Evan Maher; Corrie Barrett, Diarmuid Barron, Andy Keating, Sean O’Connor, Kevin Seymour (capt), Tim Ferguson, Johnny Keane, Bailey Faloon.

Replacements: Pat O’Toole, Mark Donnelly, Cian Hurley, Jack Stafford, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham.

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

Replacements: Levi Vaughan, Adam Tuite, Daragh McDonnell, George Morgan, Conor Pender.

UCD 15 UCC 12, Belfield Bowl
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Tommy O’Brien, Stephen McVeigh, Emmet Burns
UCC: Tries: Rory Suttor, Murray Linn; Con: James Taylor
HT: UCD 10 UCC 5

Leinster Academy talent Tommy O’Brien got amongst the tries as UCD edged out UCC 15-12 in a fiercely-contested College derby at the Belfield Bowl.

Kevin Croke’s charges notched three tries during the opening 47 minutes, but were left scrambling to seal the result late on as their Cork rivals threatened to end their frustrating eight-match losing streak.

Nippy centre O’Brien broke through to score in the second minute before a heavy rain shower made for a stop-start first half. UCD led 10-5 at the turnaround, back rowers Stephen McVeigh and Rory Suttor swapping five-pointers during purple patches for both packs.

Now playing into the teeth of Storm Dennis and a deluge of rain, UCD tighthead Emmet Burns managed to squirm through and ground the ball under a pile of bodies, barely seven minutes after the restart.

However, any thoughts of the hosts pushing on for a bonus point quickly evaporated as wind-backed UCC enjoyed more possession and territory. Indeed, they were camped in the UCD half for much of the remainder of the game.

UCD fell foul of referee Oisin Quinn’s whistle, losing two players to the sin-bin. In between, UCC picked off second try through industrious full-back Murray Linn. James Taylor converted but the home side ground out their first win in three rounds, relying on a disciplined set of pick-and-goes in the final minutes.

UCC have a tight turnaround to negotiate, facing unbeaten leaders Cork Constitution in a local derby at Temple Hill next Friday. UCD, who are back up to third in the table, are also in Friday Night Lights action, away to Terenure College.

UCD: David Ryan; Adam Byrne, Gavin Mullin, Tommy O’Brien, Josh O’Connor; James Tarrant, Paddy Patterson; Rory Mulvihill, Richie Bergin, Emmet Burns, Jonny Guy (capt), Bobby Leahy, Dan O’Donovan, Alex Penny, Stephen McVeigh.

Replacements: Ronan Loughnan, Sam Griffin, Johnny Fairley, Jack Ringrose, Tim Corkery.

UCC: Murray Linn; Michael Clune, Louis Bruce, Cian Bohane, Matt Bowen; James Taylor, Louis Kahn; Shane O’Hanlon, Tadgh McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Cian Barry, Richard Thompson, Daire Feeney, Rory Suttor, Ryan Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Fergus Hennessy, Rob O’Donovan, Aiden Brien, Harry O’Riordan, Eoin Monahan.

LANSDOWNE 29 CLONTARF 28, Aviva Stadium back pitch (played on Friday)
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Darragh Murphy, James Reynolds; Cons: Craig Ronaldson 2; Pens: Craig Ronaldson 5
Clontarf: Tries: Sean Kearns, Tom Byrne, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: Sean Kearns 2; Pens: Sean Kearns 3
HT: Lansdowne 16 Clontarf 12

James Reynolds bagged a 82nd-minute converted try to give Lansdowne a dramatic 29-28 victory over Clontarf in their Friday Night Lights fixture.

Craig Ronaldson kicked a terrific haul of 19 points, including a decisive last-gasp conversion, to steer Lansdowne past a ‘Tarf side that had 18 excellent points from their goal-kicking winger Sean Kearns.

Preceding the arrival of Storm Dennis to these shores, this Dublin derby was played out in near perfect conditions. Ronaldson got the ball rolling with a third-minute penalty, before Clontarf fired back with the opening try of the game.

Having missed the target with an earlier penalty, Kearns completed an incisive move on the left and converted his own try for a 7-3 lead. Ronaldson reduced the arrears at the second attempt, nailing a 23rd minute penalty, but ‘Tarf were over the whitewash again just shy of the half hour mark.

Following strong carries by Cormac Daly and Ivan Soroka into the 22, it was flanker Tom Byrne who dotted down in fine style for an unconverted score. However, it was Lansdowne who surged into a 16-12 lead by half-time.

Ronaldson’s left boot split the posts in the 33rd minute, and in sin-binned lock Daly’s absence, ‘Tarf leaked a maul try to Lansdowne number 8 Darragh Murphy. Ronaldson sent over a superb conversion from the touchline to put four points between the sides.

To the north Dubliners’ credit, they coped admirably while down to 14 men and a Kearns penalty made it a one-point game on the restart. Ronaldson cancelled out that kick, only for Lansdowne loosehead Martin Mulhall to be yellow carded soon after.

‘Tarf swiftly profited from their numerical advantage when centre Matt D’Arcy burst through a gap for a 61st-minute converted try. Ronaldson’s fifth penalty success of the night restored parity at 22-all, but ‘Tarf edged back ahead thanks to successive penalty strikes from Kearns.

Nonetheless, just like their most recent outing against Terenure College, Lansdowne snatched the result right at the death. Winger Reynolds latched onto a skip pass for an impressive finish on the left, and Ronaldson nervelessly sent over the tightly-angled conversion to move the headquarters club back into the top four.

LANSDOWNE: Tim Foley; Cillian Redmond, Mark Roche, Conall Doherty, James Reynolds; Craig Ronaldson, James Kenny; Martin Mulhall, Dan Sheehan, Adam Boland, Mark Flanagan, Jack Dwan (capt), Jack O’Sullivan, Mark Boyle, Darragh Murphy.

Replacements: Conor Gleeson, Shane Moynihan, Cian O’Dwyer, Tim Murphy, Tom Roche.

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Sean Kearns, Michael Brown, Matt D’Arcy, Michael Courtney; Conor Kelly, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tom Ryan, Tom Byrne, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, JP Phelan, Tony Ryan, Andrew Feeney, Gearoid Lyons.