Garryowen cruised to a 35-10 bonus point win over a below-par Dublin University, moving straight to the top of Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1A.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 2
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 10 GARRYOWEN 35, College Park
Scorers: Dublin University: Tries: Mark Nicholson, Aran Egan
Garryowen: Tries: Liam Coombes 2, Jamie Heuston, Bryan Fitzgerald; Cons: Tony Butler 3; Pens: Tony Butler 3
HT: Dublin University 0 Garryowen 25
On the same day that his cousin Gavin was Munster’s player-of-the-match, Liam Coombes starred for Garryowen with two tries in their league opener at College Park.
Coombes’ eye-catching first half double, combined with a Jamie Heuston effort, had the Light Blues leading 25-0 at half-time.
Ennis product Tony Butler, who recently captained the Munster Development team, took to All-Ireland League rugby like a duck to water, finishing with 15 points from the tee.
Dublin University did improve after the break, a clever lineout move putting Mark Nicholson over in the corner and full-back Aran Egan also scored acrobatically from a chip-and-chase.
However, the Limerick men had safely tucked away their bonus point and the result on the hour mark. Coombes set up their fourth try for centre Bryan Fitzgerald.
It was the same player who had almost given Mike Sherry’s side a dream start. Trinity were exposed by the visitors’ quick hands but were let off the hook by Fitzgerald knocking on at the try-line.
The scoring was kick-started by a booming Butler penalty from just inside the students’ half, and that excellent eighth-minute strike was quickly added to by a classy Coombes try.
After a Trinity kick failed to work out, the rangy 24-year-old countered down the right wing, arcing his way inside to connect with Jack Daly who looped a pass back out to send Coombes over untouched from 30 metres out.
It was a slicky-crafted score – converted by Butler for 10-0 – and only a double movement prevented Garryowen from tagging on a quick-fire second try from the restart.
On the half hour mark. Trinity fell 17 points in arrears, a smart Fitzgerald break saw Heuston pass wide and Coombes collected the ball one-handed to complete his brace.
Heuston next got his name on the scoresheet, centre Jack Delaney tidying up an attack and offloading out of a tackle to the send the full-back over from the edge of the Trinity 22.
Tony Smeeth’s youngsters suffered a further setback before half-time, losing Ulster Academy lock Harry Sheridan to the sin bin for a late tackle. Butler banged over a penalty to make it 25-0.
The hosts resumed in better fettle, hooker Nicholson throwing short at a lineout to Jamie Berrisford who fed him with a return pass to go over in the left corner.
However, the door was slammed shut on any potential comeback when Butler sent Coombes through the defensive line – Trinity felt aggrieved at a possible forward pass – and he laid off for Fitzgerald to go in under the posts.
Butler’s conversion was followed by some stop-start phases, before Trinity’s Egan was released from the Garryowen 10-metre line. He dinked a chip over the defence and his well-timed jump saw him gather to score by the left corner flag.
Mick O’Kennedy missed his second conversion attempt from far out, and it was left to his opposite number Butler to close out the scoring with a late penalty.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Aran Egan; Hugh Twomey, Luis Faria, Gavin Jones, Liam McMahon; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louis O’Reilly; Giuseppe Coyne, Mark Nicholson, Thomas Connolly, Harry Sheridan, Jamie Berrisford, Anthony Ryan, Alan Francis, Diarmuid McCormack.
Replacements: Ben Nel, Bart Vermeulen, Darren Magee, Ronan Murphy, Cormac King.
GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Jamie Shanahan, Bryan Fitzgerald, Jack Delaney, Liam Coombes; Tony Butler, Edmond Barry; Niall Horan, Dylan Murphy, James Kendrick, Roy Whelan, Kevin Seymour, Johnny Keane, Jack Daly, Sean Rennison.
Replacements: Pat O’Toole, Mark Donnelly, Alan Fitzgerald, Neil Cronin, Tommy O’Hora, Cian Hurley.