Terenure College racked up five tries in dispatching UCC 37-13 at the Mardyke, but it was the Cork students who were quickest out of the traps.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 2
UCC 13 TERENURE COLLEGE 37, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Try; Richard Thompson; Con: Rob Hedderman; Pens: Rob Hedderman 2
Terenure College: Tries: Alan Bennie, Harrison Brewer, Stephen O’Neill 2, Peter Sylvester; Cons: James Thornton 3; Pens: James Thornton, Jake Swaine
HT: UCC 13 Terenure College 17
UCC strung together 13 unanswered points during the opening 25 minutes, including a charge-down try from Richard Thompson, to spread doubt amongst a strong Terenure team.
However, with 16 All-Ireland League debutants on board, the hosts were unable to maintain that level of play and trailed 17-13 by half-time.
Terenure centre Stephen O’Neill starred with a brace of tries, including an excellent late breakaway effort to close out what had seemed an unlikely bonus point victory for Sean Skehan’s men.
‘Nure fielded a formidable back row of Harrison Brewer, James Connolly and Jordan Coghlan – all with experience in the professional ranks – and another new signing, Peter Sylvester, came off the bench to score against his former club.
UCC’s new captain Rob Hedderman provided some early encouragement for his side, planting a penalty between the posts after Terenure had infringed at the breakdown.
The full-back punished a ‘Nure offside to make it 6-0 just before the water break, and then came the opening try as the much-fancied Dubliners fell further behind five minutes later.
One of ‘Nure’s new recruits, scrum half Alan Bennie, had a kick charged down by Thompson at a ruck, and the UCC lock scooped up the ball to run in from the edge of the visitors’ 22.
Hedderman converted but that proved to be UCC’s final scoring contribution, as Terenure quickly went up a couple of gears to take control.
They put together three tries – in the same left corner – during a devastating 10-minute spell. Bennie redeemed himself by running in the first, on the back of some sharp passing and support play.
They then heaped pressure on a UCC lineout, scrambling possession back on their side and flanker Brewer carried strongly to make the line from 10 metres out.
James Thornton converted to make it a one-point game, before his half-back partner Bennie turned provider. He lobbed a kick into open territory and the onrushing O’Neill profited from a favourable bounce to dot down ahead of the UCC cover.
That opportunist score had the visitors ahead for the first time, and they never really looked back. UCC were shell-shocked and the interval came at a good time for them to regroup.
After conceding a Thornton penalty for 20-13, Neil Lucey’s youngsters fought back in encouraging fashion with winger Louis Bruce weaving deep through the defence.
Jake Swaine added another three points for ‘Nure from the tee, though, and with Bennie breaking from deep, UCC were visibly wilting under the near-constant pressure.
Tiredness certainly crept in for the valiant home team, and Terenure’s power and pace took their try tally to five during the closing stages.
With 75 minutes on the clock, ex-UCC centre Sylvester broke through two tackles to score just beside the posts. Bennie supplied the assist once again.
Thornton converted and also added the extras to O’Neill’s second of the day. A great team move saw ‘Nure flood forward from inside their own half, and O’Neill ducked out of a tackle to score.
UCC: Rob Hedderman (capt); Louis Bruce, Sam Tarleton, Daniel Squires, Timothy Duggan; Cian Whooley, Joe O’Leary; Alessandro Heaney, Billy Kingston, Corey Hanlon, Mark Bissessar, Richard Thompson, Jack Kelleher, Ronan Barry, Jack O’Sullivan.
Replacements: Harry Jephson, Alan McDonald, Sam O’Sullivan, John Hodnett, Darragh French, Luke Kerr.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Colm de Buitlear; Craig Adams, Stephen O’Neill, Caolan Dooley, Jake Swaine; James Thornton, Alan Bennie; Campbell Classon, Conor McCormack, Adam Tuite, Luke Clohessy, Mike Murphy, Harrison Brewer, James Connolly, Jordan Coghlan.
Replacements: Levi Vaughan, Dewald Barnard, Adam Melia, Cathal Marsh, Peter Sylvester, Adam La Grue.