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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 15 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A: Round 15 Review

Hooker Josh Hanlon helped himself to two tries during Ballynahinch's bonus point victory over Dublin University ©INPHO/Leah Scholes

Dylan Donnellan bagged his second brace of tries in the space of a week as table toppers Clontarf beat Shannon 33-3 on Thomond Park’s back pitch.

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions: Round 15 Results Round-Up

Just a point separates ‘Tarf and Terenure College at the top of Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A, with the Dublin rivals occupying the home semi-final berths with three rounds remaining.

Shannon, who remain in the bottom two, were only 12-3 behind at the break thanks to a Mike Cooke penalty. Ivan Soroka drove over late on to add to Donnellan’s 12th-minute effort from a lineout maul.

Andy Wood’s men went up a gear on the restart with quick-fire scores from Ben Murphy and captain Matt D’Arcy, while ace finisher Donnellan had the final say in the 69th minute with his 14th try in 15 games.

Terenure College stretched clear of UCD in the second half, prevailing 32-10 in Belfield to make it a dozen wins for their Energia All-Ireland League campaign so far.

Second-placed Terenure turned a 17-10 interval lead into a 22-point winning margin thanks to a trio of unconverted tries from Jordan Coghlan, Levi Vaughan (with his second of the game) and Colm de Buitléar.

After an early exchange of penalties between Michael Moloney and Caolan Dooley, a well-controlled lineout drive saw ‘Nure hooker Vaughan score the opening try in the 12th minute.

UCD fell further behind entering the second quarter, with the visitors capitalising on Ross Deegan’s yellow card for an off-the-ball incident involving Craig Adams. The latter crossed soon after, the beneficiary of a nice spread of passes across the backs.

Dooley’s well-struck conversion made it 17-3, but UCD hit back swiftly when David Ryan touched down from a lovely skip pass by Rob Gilsenan. Leinster Academy back rowers Sean O’Brien and James Culhane were both prominent in the build-up.

‘Nure had to come through a tricky period either side of half-time, losing both Adams, who was whistled up for a deliberate knock-on, and stand-in captain Mick Melia to the sin bin.

However, Sean Skehan’s charges took control of the scoreboard with two more tries approaching the hour mark. Influential number 8 Coghlan broke off a maul to go over in the left corner in the 51st minute.

The visitors’ lineout was the launchpad again for Vaughan to complete his brace, bagging the bonus point in the process. UCD lifted the tempo in response as ‘Nure lost replacement Stephen O’Neill to the bin for an off-the-ball tackle.

Crucially, Moloney missed touch from the penalty and after Andy Keating’s introduction, a dominant ‘Nure scrum landed the students back in their own 22. The maul was stopped on this occasion, but centre de Buitléar crashed over from a fizzing Alan Bennie pass.

Quicksilver try finishes from Stephen Lyons and Shay McCarthy saw Young Munster come from behind to defeat Lansdowne 15-10 on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

Young Munster got the job done in the second half – having trailed to Jack O’Sullivan’s first-minute try – to remain fourth in the table.

Lansdowne captain O’Sullivan charged down Jack Lyons’ attempted box kick and grounded the loose ball just to the right of the posts, allowing Stephen Madigan to turn it into a full seven points.

A prolonged bout of pressure had the Cookies hammering on the door, a try just eluding them before Evan Cusack split the posts to punish a ruck infringement from Connor O’Sullivan.

Lansdowne’s Peter Sullivan went close to scoring from his own kick through, but a subsequent penalty allowed Madigan to restore the seven-point gap (10-3).

The Cookies exerted huge pressure yet failed to force a try before the interval, despite Lansdowne losing both Dan Murphy (deliberate knock-on) and Ben Popplewell (high tackle) to the sin bin.

The hosts went down to 12 men after three successive scrum penalties ended with replacement prop Adam Boland binned. Much to Young Munster’s annoyance, they missed out on a likely penalty try as the scrums had to go uncontested and Lansdowne’s defence held firm out wide.

Into the second half, Lansdowne were back to 13 players when James Kenny partially blocked a pass with the try-line under threat, but Conor Hayes regathered the ball to send Lyons nipping over in the left corner for his try.

Out-half Cusack then showed his class, laying off a looping pass just as he was tackled by Clive Ross. It put McCarthy into space and he bounced off Sean Galvin’s tackle to score by the right corner flag.

Cusack nailed the touchline conversion to give his side a hard-earned five-point advantage, which ultimately proved enough despite some near misses at both ends.

Lansdowne did get back on the front foot late on, but Sean Rigney stole a vital lineout for the Cookies and they also won a turnover off a close-in scrum for the headquarters club.

Ballynahinch proved too strong for Dublin University, triumphing 36-15 with their six-try showing keeping them in contention for a top four finish.

‘Hinch still have five points to make up on fourth-placed Young Munster, but they remain in the hunt for a semi-final spot with three rounds left to play.

Josh Hanlon and Ethan Graham grabbed two tries each for the victors, while Ronan Quinn and Felix Campbell finished off what were only consolation scores for Trinity during the final quarter.

Hanlon connected with Ulster’s Cormac Izuchukwu at a second-minute lineout, the power generated by the ‘Hinch maul driving the hooker over to swiftly make it 5-0.

Luck was not on Trinity’s side when flanker Campbell embarked on a bulldozing run up into the hosts’ 22. From a subsequent lineout, he was stopped just short and lost the ball forward.

Aran Egan got them on the scoreboard with a well-struck penalty, punishing Izuchukwu who was slow to roll away, and the students were visibly growing in confidence.

Following a scrum penalty, Ruadhan Byron found a hole in ‘Hinch’s midfield defence, and it took an important tackle from Aaron Cairns to deny Gavin Jones a certain try.

Building from deep in the 24th minute, the County Down outfit used maul possession to invite Fergus Jemphrey forward. The Ireland Sevens international duly stepped inside two defenders on a brilliant burst downfield.

‘Hinch were clinical from only their second visit to the Trinity 22, George Saunderson and Mark Best both carrying well before Bradley Luney broke a tackle from Jones to score from a short Greg Hutley pass.

Straight from the restart, ‘Hinch exploited some space out wide again, Best releasing Luney who connected with Cairns and the winger blazed up to the Trinity 22, drawing in Colm Hogan before passing back inside for full-back Graham to dive in behind the posts.

Following Hutley’s straightforward conversion which opened up a 17-3 lead, Zack McCall and Louis McDonough traded turnovers, the latter foiling a promising break that had Graham threatening out wide again.

Ulster Academy scrum half Conor McKee came off the bench to bag the bonus point in the 53rd minute, putting the finishing touches to a neat move involving himself, Hanlon and Graham who did well to get the final offload away. Hutley converted.

Trinity wasted little time in responding, replacement Diarmuid McCormack getting his hands free in contact to superbly release Quinn for the left corner, reducing the arrears to 24-8.

Adam Craig’s side effectively slammed the door shut with their fifth try, though, as Izuchukwu offloaded off the deck for McKee to scamper through and feed Graham to complete his brace despite Quinn’s tap tackle. The extras were supplied by Hutley.

Two Trinity lineouts failed to work out, Luney stealing one and Hanlon gobbling up an overthrow, before a McKee 50:22 kick gave the Ulstermen the territorial edge.

Hanlon made it count, some crisp interplay between himself and Graham putting the hooker over in the left corner. Campbell closed out the scoring from a well-executed maul, ‘Hinch ending the game down to 14 men as Jemphrey was binned for a late challenge on Ted Walsh.

Cork Constitution staved off a second half fight-back from Garryowen as George Coomber’s 80th-minute penalty sealed a 29-21 victory at Dooradoyle.

Billy Scannell and Billy Crowley crossed to give Cork Con a 14-0 half-time lead, with Jonny Holland’s side looking to stay just six points behind second-placed Terenure in the table.

Jamie Shanahan cut through to open the Light Blues’ account in the 49th minute, only for Con’s Jack Kelleher, well supported by his back row colleague David Hyland, to barge over on the hour mark.

Colm Quilligan and Matt Sheehan sandwiched Niall Kenneally’s bonus point effort to get Garryowen within five points, yet full-back Coomber nailed his late kick to ensure Con returned to winning ways.