Cork Constitution gave their top four hopes a huge boost with a 27-19 win over provincial rivals Young Munster at Tom Clifford Park.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 1A: Saturday, April 2
YOUNG MUNSTER 19 CORK CONSTITUTION 27, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Eoin O’Connor, Conor Phillips, Shane Malone; Cons: Evan Cusack 2
Cork Constitution: Tries: Billy Crowley, Niall Kenneally, Max Abbott; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 3; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2
HT: Young Munster 7 Cork Constitution 13
Cork Con turned in an excellent final quarter performance to earn a crucial away victory and climb back into fourth place with one round of games to go.
An early try from Billy Crowley and second half efforts courtesy of former captain Niall Kenneally and Max Abbott, as well as 12 points from the boot of skipper Aidan Moynihan, saw the visitors come out on top.
Play-off-chasing Young Munster were without several regular starters and needed a bonus point win but ultimately fell short despite a huge effort.
Cork Con made a sensational start to the contest with Luke Cahill’s sublime offload sending full-back Crowley in for the first try on five minutes, which Moynihan converted.
The Cookies responded almost immediately with a slick lineout move that saw Munster Academy forward Eoin O’Connor touch down in the right corner. Evan Cusack landed an excellent conversion to level the sides.
However, Con headed into the break with a 13-7 lead when ever-reliable out-half Moynihan slotted over two penalties in quick succession.
The home side were blown up for a no-arms tackle and then not rolling away from a ruck, as Brian Hickey’s men edged their way back in front.
Young Munster were quick out of the blocks in the second half. With an advantage in their favour, Cusack dabbed a ball through for Ireland Sevens flyer Conor Phillips to collect and score their second try.
It got even better for Gearoid Prendergast’s men just a few minutes later, a devastating lineout maul seeing Shane Malone crash over for their third try. Cusack’s conversion made it a 19-13 turnaround.
Con needed a response and they got it on 54 minutes when Kenneally barged through the home defence from close range after a sustained period of pressure. Moynihan fired over the conversion to put the reigning champions back in front.
Just after the hour mark, this fiercely-contested Munster derby was put to bed when hooker Abbott also crossed after Sean French’s 50:22 kick had put Con deep in Young Munster territory.
Big carries from Kenneally and powerful replacement Conor Kindregan followed before Abbott burrowed his way over the line. Moynihan’s resultant kick capped off a vital win for the Leesiders.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Jason Kiely; Conor Hayes, Pa Ryan, Harry Fleming, Conor Phillips; Evan Cusack; Donnacha O’Callaghan; David Begley, Shane Malone, Conor Bartley, Tom Goggin (capt), Sean Rigney, Eoin O’Connor, Conor Moloney, Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: Liam Neilan, Paul Allen, Colm Skehan, Jack Lyons, Cian Casey, Aaron Kelly.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Billy Crowley; JJ O’Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally, Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan (capt), Gerry Hurley; Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott, Rory Burke, Cian Barry, Cathal O’Flaherty, John Forde, James Murphy, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Luke McAuliffe, Luke Masters, Conor Kindregan, Eoin Quilter, Duncan Williams, Sean French.
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)