Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 9 Review
Max Abbott’s 79th-minute maul score gave Cork Constitution a share of the spoils at the end of a thrilling 10-try clash with Dublin University at College Park.
Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Round 9 Results Round-Up (Postponed Games)
Con captain Aidan Moynihan added the all-important conversion for a 35-all draw, with the visitors having led on three occasions and Trinity twice, including 21-14 at the interval.
The result of this rescheduled Energia All-Ireland League match means the students and Con remain third and fourth respectively in Division 1A, level on 32 points ahead of next week’s return fixture at Temple Hill.
Number 8 David Hyland slipped through to take Con back into the Trinity 22 during the dying embers, but a handling error cost them and then a potential breakout by Trinity winger James Dillon was pulled back for a knock-on.
Wearing their red and black hooped jerseys, Tony Smeeth’s youngsters fell behind to an early James Murphy try, the burly flanker driving over with Sean Duffy on the latch.
Scrum half Ian Leonard had made a sniping break in the lead up to the eighth-minute score, which Moynihan converted, but Trinity, roaring back with a pacy break initiated by Aran Egan and Ronan Quinn, were quick to respond.
A series of phases in the Con 22 chipped away at the defence before the hosts’ captain Louis O’Reilly put Quinn raiding over from the left wing. Egan converted neatly to take his season’s haul to 102 points.
It remained seven points each until a scoring blitz towards the end of the first half. Con’s lineout had malfunctioned in advanced positions and they also had a maul grounded and lost possession from a strong scrum platform.
A Trinity tight five missing some notable names due to provincial and Ireland Under-20 commitments came under further pressure.
George Coomber jinked through and narrowly missed out on a try, Leonard likewise after some lovely interplay between Coomber, Murphy and Mark Stafford.
They did eventually retake the lead when blindside Stafford burst clean through from a ruck to score from the edge of the hosts’ 22. Moynihan converted from straight in front to make it 14-7.
However, Smeeth’s charges stunned Con with two late tries, big tighthead Thomas Connolly swatting away a tackle to score from close range before out-half Egan added a terrific solo effort on the stroke of half-time.
Using scrum ball to break from halfway, the Limerick native dummied his way through a gap and then sidestepped around Michael Hand, his pace taking him over in the left corner despite Leonard’s committed chase.
Egan’s crisp touchline conversion gave his side a seven-point lead at the turnaround, only for Jonny Holland’s men to hit back with two converted tries inside seven minutes of the restart.
Billy Crowley, brother of Munster and Ireland’s Jack, was released by Moynihan and Harry O’Riordan from 40 metres out, capitalising on a couple of mismatches to surge through a gap and he rounded Colm Hogan with aplomb for a fine levelling try – 21-all.
Barely five minutes later, Murphy stretched over for Con’s bonus point score, Niall Kenneally’s initial run doing the damage and his excellent offload, combined with another from the supporting Crowley, put the flanker in under the posts.
The tries kept coming, the increasingly influential Hogan releasing Dillon to cut in off his right wing, accelerate past three defenders and register Trinity’s bonus point. Egan added the extras to leave it 28-all.
Quinn threatened from a kick through as the end-to-end action continued, and Trinity were stopped twice from tapped penalties before Ruadhan Byron was held up by a combination of Stafford and replacement Alessandro Heaney.
With 15 minutes remaining, O’Reilly edged Trinity back in front. He broke from a maul, stealing a march on Abbott and showing good strength to get the ball down despite the best efforts of Louis Kahn.
Matthew Bowen, a late call-up to the Con squad, then had a try ruled out for a forward pass from Moynihan, but their persistence paid off when Abbott’s leveller earned them a valuable three points on the road.
Ballynahinch pushed eight points clear of seventh-placed UCD in the table after beating College 31-25 in an eight-try encounter at Ballymacarn Park.
‘Hinch’s strong scrum forced penalty tries in the 52nd and 76th minutes, the first one coming after UCD flanker Oisin Spain had been sin-binned.
Nacho Cladera Crespo returned to his loosehead position to help the hosts outscrummage the students, with their earlier scores having come from Bradley Luney and Kyle McCall.
Nice hands from Harry Donnelly and captain Bobby Sheehan released UCD scrum half Michael Moloney for an immediate response, closing the gap to 24-18, and the visitors nipped back in front in the 63rd minute.
Following a bout of forward pressure, Moloney fed replacement Ross Deegan to crash in under the posts, the conversion from Niall Carroll making it 25-24 to Kevin Croke’s young guns.
Nonetheless, UCD, who had first half tries from Dylan O’Grady and Donnelly, lost their grip on the lead when Kyle McCall, Claytan Milligan and John Dickson combined to do the damage in the front row and earn the decisive penalty try.
It took some frantic late defence from ‘Hinch, on their own line, to prevent UCD from scoring right at the death. They lost openside Zack McCall to the bin, but a bandaged-up Mark Best dug in at the breakdown to win the penalty that sealed it.