Defending Energia Men’s All-Ireland League champions Cork Constitution ended their three-match losing run with a 32-13 bonus point victory at home to Dublin University.
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, October 30
CORK CONSTITUTION 32 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 13, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Jack Crowley, Greg Higgins, Sean French, Niall Kenneally; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 2, Jack Crowley; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2
Dublin University: Try: Harry Sheridan; Con: Mick O’Kennedy; Pens: Mick O’Kennedy 2
HT: Cork Constitution 17 Dublin University 6
A strong first half display, coupled with Niall Kenneally’s late bonus point try, saw Cork Con, wearing blue jerseys, chalk up their first win of the campaign at an initially rain-hit Temple Hill.
A week on from his first senior start at out-half for Munster, Jack Crowley was back in club colours – playing at full-back – and he claimed the opening try and kicked the final conversion.
Leinster duo Jack Dunne and Rob Russell aided Trinity’s effort, and although a Harry Sheridan try raised hopes of them getting something out of the game, Kenneally had the last word.
It was the long-limbed Dunne who tapped down Mick O’Kennedy’s kick-off, handing the students the early possession but when a move off a scrum broke down, Aidan Moynihan hacked clear for the hosts.
Neither side could create a scoring opportunity until Con took a 14th-minute lead. After the rain shower passed, Duncan Williams’ clever kick was caught by Sean French, near the left touchline, and he passed back inside for the inrushing Crowley to finish off.
Con captain Moynihan converted and also split the posts just a couple of minutes later, the out-half delivering a lovely flat pass to send centre Greg Higgins slicing over for a smashing try from 40 metres out.
Higgins darted in under the posts despite the best efforts of Russell and Ronan Quinn, who soon got a chance to stretch his legs in attack as Trinity eked out a penalty.
Fellow winger Marcus Kiely also had a good run before the visitors’ captain Mick O’Kennedy sent over a central place-kick, reducing the arrears to 14-3 in the 22nd minute.
The Trinity forwards were beginning to warm to the task, with Dunne and openside flanker Alan Francis, who had a strong run up into the 22, both impressing.
O’Kennedy was quick to double his contribution, firing over another penalty from inside the Con 22 after good work at the breakdown by prop Giuseppe Coyne.
Both sides heaped pressure on in defence, Dunne earning a turnover from a grounded Con maul, the hosts returning fire to force a knock-on before Sheridan’s counter-ruck won possession back for Tony Smeeth’s side.
Moynihan landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time, making it 17-6 after Coyne had caught Cian Barry with a high tackle just outside the Trinity 22.
The Con skipper started the second half’s scoring with a 43rd-minute penalty, following some excellent play from number 8 David Hyland who carried powerfully out of his own half and then followed up with a lineout steal.
Second row Barry went close to scoring from a thrilling move that showcased the running and handling abilities of Con front rowers Paddy Casey and Jack Dinneen.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, big centre Kenneally made a strong bust up towards the posts and replacement Max Abbott got the ball away for French to make it 25-6.
Handling errors prevented the resilient students from getting back into scoring range until Quinn raided through on a slashing break. They had a near miss when a forward pass denied Gavin Jones a try in the right corner.
Jones’ centre partner Luis Faria typified the visitors’ persistence during the closing stages, countering from a quickly-taken lineout and scrambling hard to retrieve his own kick.
The attack broke down, but a Ben Nel pass suddenly opened up a path for Ulster Academy forward Sheridan to charge in under the posts, having fended off Higgins.
O’Kennedy drop-kicked the conversion but Trinity’s hopes of a bonus point push were swiftly extinguished by Kenneally who gobbled up a loose ball for a 25-metre run-in, with Crowley converting.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Jack Crowley; JJ O’Neill, Greg Higgins, Niall Kenneally, Sean French; Aidan Moynihan (capt), Duncan Williams; Brendan Quinlan, Jack Dinneen, Paddy Casey, Cian Barry, Cathal O’Flaherty, Luke Cahill, Michael Casey, David Hyland.
Replacements: Max Abbott, Luke Masters, Eoin Quilter, Billy Crowley, Gerry Hurley, John Forde.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Rob Russell; Ronan Quinn, Luis Faria, Gavin Jones, Marcus Kiely; Mick O’Kennedy (capt), Louis O’Reilly; Giuseppe Coyne, Mark Nicholson, Thomas Connolly, Jamie Berrisford, Jack Dunne, Harry Sheridan, Alan Francis, Ronan Murphy.
Replacements: Ben Nel, Bart Vermeulen, Diarmuid McCormack, Anthony Ryan, Cormac King, Aran Egan.