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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 13 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 13 Review

Ulster's Jake Flannery made his debut for Ballynahinch in their famous victory over Division 1A leaders Terenure College ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Ballynahinch came from behind to beat Terenure College 10-8 as the Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A pacesetters lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Round 13 Results Round-Up

Clontarf, who overcame Terenure 29-24 last time out, are the new leaders after edging out Young Munster 27-24 with Ireland Under-20 squad member Noah Sheridan getting amongst the tries.

‘Nure had started brightly at a windy Ballymacarn Park, using a spilled ‘Hinch lineout to move the ball wide at pace. Key passes from Callum Smith and Colm de Buitléar released Craig Adams to dive over in the left corner.

Ballynahinch went close to from an 18th-minute lineout maul – hooker Claytan Milligan was held up – and their former back rower, ‘Nure’s blindside Conall Boomer, then saw yellow for repeated ruck infringements.

However, the hosts knocked on at their next maul opportunity, and when Bradley Luney went off his feet at a ruck, Smith knocked over the close-range penalty for an 8-0 half-time lead.

‘Hinch began to turn the screw during a rain-hit third quarter. George Pringle claimed a crucial interception in midfield and the hosts’ scrum forced two penalties, allowing debutant out-half Jake Flannery to kick them back downfield.

Greg Hutley got the home side on the scoreboard with a well-struck penalty, coming on the back of Alan Bennie’s sin-binning for diving in off his feet at a ruck.

‘Hinch took the lead in the 65th minute, Flannery and Kyle McCall both carrying well before Mark Best burst onto a Chris Gibson pass to crash over from a few metres out. Hutley added the all-important conversion.

With Flannery kicking well and fellow Ulster representative Marcus Rea a physical presence at the breakdown, ‘Hinch held firm for the remainder.

Centre Best almost bagged a second try in the dying seconds, but he knocked on as he attempted to ground the ball from his own hack through.

Two tries early in the second half propelled Clontarf to a gripping bonus point victory over Young Munster at Castle Avenue.

Wind-backed Munsters stunned the home crowd with a try straight from the kick-off, Stephen Lyons collecting the bouncing ball to race over in the corner. Evan Cusack found the target from the touchline too.

The fourth-placed Cookies, who had beaten Clontarf 24-19 in November, pushed on to lead 12-0 thanks to an opportunist Shay McCarthy score from a Conor Hayes kick through.

Nonetheless, with former Leinster and Connacht out-half Steve Crosbie a notable starter for ‘Tarf, they fired back when a free-flowing attack from deep ended with Cian O’Donoghue touching down.

The defending champions’ back-line clicked again for full-back Tadhg Bird to fly over for a fantastic 50-metre score, closing the gap to 12-10 at the break.

It came straight from a scrum on the right wing, ‘Tarf’s working their magic in midfield where captain Matt D’Arcy, aided by Michael Courtney’s decoy run, combined with Sheridan. He jinked past one tackle and fed the onrushing Bird to speed past halfway, step around Lyons and stay clear of his chasers to dive over.

Andy Wood’s men kept up that momentum on the restart, JJ O’Dea carrying superbly inside the opening seconds before offloading for young winger Sheridan to finish off a try which Bird converted.

Munsters’ indiscipline saw them suffer two yellow cards and D’Arcy capitalised, cutting through from five metres out to pocket the bonus point and make it 24-12.

‘Tarf replacement Conor Kelly added a subsequent penalty and it was needed in the end, as Munsters rallied with tries from Jack Lyons and Hayes, the latter finishing crisply from halfway to give the visitors two deserved bonus points.

It was a smashing final try from Hayes who, invited through a gap by Jack Lyons’ excellent offload, rushed up and chipped over the top, winning a footrace with Bird to get the touchdown.

Shannon cut loose during the final quarter to register their first win of 2023, handing Dublin University a heavy 43-17 beating on Thomond Park’s back pitch.

Hooker Jordan Prenderville’s double took his season’s haul to five tries, while Munster Academy back rower Daniel Okeke marked his return from a hamstring injury with a 78th-minute try.

Trinity, who were missing a number of first-choice players and had to make a couple of late changes, were only 10-5 behind at half-time.

Tony Smeeth’s charges hit the front in the 17th minute when Louis McDonough’s 50:22 kick put them in position and lock Jack Kearney crossed from the resulting lineout drive.

However, Shannon’s pack gradually got to grips with proceedings, number 8 Lee Nicholas levelling after he had earlier been held up. Prenderville muscled over late on to give the hosts a five-point interval lead.

With their scrum and lineout the ideal launchpads, Shannon hit the hour mark with a 22-5 advantage thanks to well-taken scores from Luke Rigney and winger Dan Hurley.

Aran Egan hit back for Trinity from a cross-field kick, but Stephen Keogh’s side dominated the closing stages as Prenderville and Okeke both powered over. Prenderville missed out on a hat-trick, with a penalty try awarded instead.

Shannon remain second-from-bottom, but hot on the heels of UCD who are only two points above them. Bart Vermeulen notched an injury-time consolation try for the students, who have fallen to sixth in the table following their sixth defeat in seven games.

Cork Constitution lost for the first time in five matches after going down 25-19 to Lansdowne on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

Second half tries from Michael Silvester and Tom Monaghan, while Cork Con prop Alessandro Heaney was in the sin bin, proved crucial as Lansdowne registered their third victory in four rounds.

Third-placed Cork Con, whose hopes of a home semi-final took a hit, trailed 13-12 at half-time. Lansdowne’s James Kenny sent Peter Sullivan over in the eighth minute, and Kenny’s half-back partner Stephen Madigan quickly added a penalty.

The hosts ended the first quarter with a 13-point advantage, Madigan’s chip kick bouncing favourably for Silvester to dart over. Madigan’s conversion attempt was charged down by Daniel Hurley.

One of the best individual tries of the season ignited Con’s challenge, as full-back George Coomber burst around four defenders from near halfway, breaking down the left – and evading diving tackles from Sullivan and Kenny – with his impressive pace keeping him clear to score in the corner.

The visitors forced a late penalty try from a five-metre scrum, with Lansdowne having lost influential lock Jack Dwan to the sin bin.

Nonetheless, Heaney’s yellow set Con back significantly as Silvester made it over in the corner and Monaghan also crashed through to convert pressure into points.

Despite Con replying with a converted James Murphy effort with five minutes remaining, their comeback bid fell short when a forward pass spoiled a promising last-gasp attack that looked to have Lansdowne in some trouble.

Meanwhile, UCD racked up eight tries in a comprehensive 52-12 triumph over Garryowen at the UCD Bowl, the result keeping them just above Shannon in the process.

Leinster Academy duo Sean O’Brien (2) and Ben Brownlee both crossed the whitewash, while Gerry Hill, Evin Coyle, Harry Donnelly, Alex O’Grady and replacement Ryan McMahon also got on the scoresheet.

Bottom side Garryowen, who trailed 26-0 at half-time, had second half scores from Sean Rennison and Neil Cronin, but they are now 18 points adrift at the foot of the table with five games to go.

While David Ryan had a first-minute try ruled out for offside, UCD did look the more likely to break the deadlock with a wind-backed Chris Cosgrave winning the kicking battle.

Although one booming kick from the Leinster-capped full-back forced Jamie Shanahan to concede a five-metre lineout, Garryowen’s determined defence kept them out and their scrum was also gaining the upper hand.

Nonetheless, UCD went ahead in the 19th minute when Donnelly offloaded brilliantly, away from the clutches of a chasing Tony Butler. It allowed the impressive Brownlee to break into space and give lock Hill a run-in from just outside the Garryowen 22.

College put a number of missed opportunities behind them to finish the first half strongly. Number 8 O’Brien drove low to score beside the posts, before prop Coyle did likewise, with support from Martin Fallon, to make it 19-0.

Garryowen flanker Johnny Keane saw yellow for getting involved in some ‘afters’, and it left UCD to pick up their bonus point through O’Brien who burrowed over for Michael Moloney to add his third successful conversion.

The Limerick men improved on the restart, yet an uncharacteristic knock-on from Butler blew a try-scoring chance. UCD were clinical in response, sharp passes from Moloney and Cosgrave releasing Donnelly to slice in between two defenders and score out wide on the right.

Garryowen got off the mark in the 57th minute, replacement Rennison cleverly grounding the ball between his legs after Des Fitzgerald had been stopped just inches short. Credit to Keane for his initial break which opened up the defence.

Butler’s conversion reduced the arrears to 33-7, but his subsequent break from inside halfway went unrewarded thanks to Donnelly’s turnover penalty. Garryowen’s indiscipline invited UCD forward and they duly took advantage.

McMahon then muscled in under the posts, with the visitors also losing flanker Fitzgerald to the bin. They hit back swiftly, though, as Cronin intercepted a Rob Gilsenan pass deep inside the UCD 22 for Garryowen’s second try.

Slick passing off a scrum on the Garryowen 22 saw the increasingly-influential Donnelly put fellow winger O’Grady over in the left corner.

Providing the icing on the cake, Brownlee’s barnstorming run from the UCD 10-metre line – he darted inside Butler and stepped in and out to get past the covering Shanahan – made it a 40-point winning margin.