Evan Cusack kicked 14 points as Young Munster survived a flurry of yellow cards to defeat provincial rivals Cork Constitution 24-17 at Temple Hill.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 9
CORK CONSTITUTION 17 YOUNG MUNSTER 24, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Penalty try, Barry Galvin; Cons: Pen try con, Aidan Moynihan; Pen: Aidan Moynihan
Young Munster: Tries: Conor Hayes, Patrick Campbell; Con: Evan Cusack; Pens: Evan Cusack 4
HT: Cork Constitution 3 Young Munster 11
Munsters had four players sin-binned, going down to 12 men at one stage during the final quarter, but they hung on to claim the scalp of the reigning Energia Men’s All-Ireland League champions.
Former Cork minor footballer Patrick Campbell scored his first league try for the Cookies, adding to Conor Hayes’ second score of the Division 1A campaign.
However, the visitors’ 18-3 lead came under threat as Con fought back with a penalty try and an excellent Barry Galvin effort.
A late penalty from out-half Cusack was enough to seal the victory, although Con winger JJ O’Neill missed out on an injury-time try when he lost the ball in contact.
Captain Aidan Moynihan gave his side a positive start with a thumping third-minute penalty, as they looked to avoid back-to-back defeats at the start of their delayed title defence.
But it was Gearoid Prendergast’s men who had the better of the first half, establishing control of the scrums and regularly pressure on the Con lineout.
Cusack kicked the Cookies level before they won a scrum against the head. Quick ball across the back-line set up to winger Hayes to get outside O’Neill’s attempted tackle and score in the right corner.
Cusack added a penalty and Con would have been further behind but for some resolute defending late on.
Just two minutes after the restart, Munsters tided up a scrappy lineout, Bailey Faloon and Harry Fleming had strong carries in the Con 22 before the ball was moved wide for full-back Campbell to finish off, wide on the left.
Cusack nailed the touchline conversion to make it 18-3, a significant lead for the recently-crowned Munster Senior Cup champions.
Referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell was a busy man, sending Michael Casey and Faloon to the sin bin in the first half before showing his yellow card to three more Cookies as Con started to gain the upper hand.
The Limerick men had lock Sean Rigney in the bin when Con drove hard from a lineout, with Munsters collapsing the advancing maul for the concession of a penalty try and a yellow to hooker Mark O’Mara.
Cusack steadied the ship with a penalty in the 67th minute, but Munsters were briefly left with a dozen players after replacement Fintan Coleman became the game’s fifth recipient of a yellow card.
They were back up to 14 men when Moynihan – fed by replacement John Poland – sent out a long skipp pass for Galvin to dive over in the left corner. Moynihan converted with aplomb, setting up a tense finale.
Late drama appears to be following the Leesiders around – last week Lansdowne foiled them with a try in the dying minutes – and this time Munsters put the boot in, a penalty in kicking range allowing Cusack to close out a gritty away victory.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Billy Crowley; Barry Galvin, Bruce Matthews, Niall Kenneally, JJ O’Neill; Aidan Moynihan (capt), Duncan Williams; Gavin Duffy, Luke McAuliffe, Dylan Murphy, Cian Barry, Eoin Quilter, John Forde, Michael Casey, David Hyland.
Replacements: Jack Dinneen, Brendan Quinlan, Paddy Casey, Conor Kindregan, John Poland, Tomas Quinlan.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Patrick Campbell; Conor Hayes, Pa Ryan, Harry Fleming, Shay McCarthy; Evan Cusack, Adam Maher; David Begley, Mark O’Mara, Colm Skehan, Tom Goggin, Sean Rigney, Alan Kennedy (capt), Dan Walsh, Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: Peter Meyer, Paul Allen, Fintan Coleman, John Foley, Jack Lyons, Jason Kiely.