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Moloney’s Points Haul Crucial As UCD Hold Off Fast-Finishing Lansdowne

Moloney’s Points Haul Crucial As UCD Hold Off Fast-Finishing Lansdowne

UCD scrum half Michael Moloney scored a try and kicked 14 points as they edged out Lansdowne in a thrilling Division 1A encounter on Friday night ©INPHO/Ben Brady

UCD and Lansdowne served up an early Christmas cracker on Friday night, sharing out twelve tries in an eventual 44-40 win for the Emmet MacMahon-coached students.


Friday, December 15 –

Scorers: UCD: Tries: Ross Deegan 2, Harry Donnelly, Rory McGuire, Bobby Sheehan, Michael Moloney; Cons: Michael Moloney 4; Pens: Michael Moloney 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Sean Galvin 2, Jack Matthews, Jack Cooke, Tom Barry 2; Cons: Stephen Madigan, Steve McMahon 4
HT: UCD 32 Lansdowne 12

Having lost their previous two Energia All-Ireland League games, a determined UCD stormed into a 32-12 half-time lead at the floodlit Bowl thanks to a Ross Deegan brace, and further tries from Harry Donnelly and Rory McGuire.

UCD captain Bobby Sheehan and Michael Moloney, Division 1A’s top points scorer, also crossed during the third quarter, with the latter finishing with 19 points to take his season’s haul to an impressive 109 points so far.

Trailing by 27 points at one stage, Lansdowne rallied with four second half tries as they mounted a brilliant fight-back. Sean Galvin doubled his tally, skipper Jack Cooke went over off a lineout and Tom Barry did likewise on two occasions past the hour mark.

With three players sin-binned during that period, UCD’s lead was cut to just four points and they had to endure a nervy final few minutes before holding on for a valuable result that moves them up to seventh in the table.

Having struggled with Clontarf’s power off lineouts last week, an early maul turnover boosted Lansdowne but UCD, armed with a penalty advantage and all of the initial territory, scored inside five minutes.

James Tarrant took contact on the edge of the opposition 22, neatly offloading to put Tim Corkery in behind Peter Sullivan and he fed winger Deegan to finish off from 15 metres out. Moloney made it a seven-pointer.

Former UCD centre Andy Marks fumbled a cross-field kick from Stephen Madigan, as Lansdowne looked set to hit back quickly. Leinster Academy prop Jack Boyle halted the visitors’ next attacking spell with a penalty won at the breakdown.

Busy flanker Barry Fitzpatrick launched Lansdowne forward again, having won a turnover penalty of his own, and the covering Moloney did just enough to force a knock-on as Marks and Galvin tried to score from the latter’s kick through down the left wing.

With their pacy defence moving Lansdowne back towards halfway, UCD pushed into a 14-0 lead after 18 minutes. Donnelly swooped on a Madigan pass just inside the Lansdowne half and darted clear to score just to the right of the posts.

When next presented with an attacking opportunity on halfway, Declan Fassbender’s men were much sharper. Nice hands from Marks, Madigan and Sullivan released Galvin and there was no catching him from inside UCD’s 10-metre line.

Madigan’s well-struck conversion was cancelled out by a three-pointer from Moloney, making it 17-7 to the hosts, and the game soon took off again with a run of three tries in the space of six breathless minutes.

UCD captain Sheehan threw long to Daragh Gilbourne, out the back of a lineout, and a strong and patient set of forward carries ended with tighthead McGuire muscling over from a close-in ruck. Moloney converted from out wide on the right.

Deegan bagged the students’ bonus point in the 36th minute, hurtling onto a Moloney pass at close range and brilliantly grounding the ball despite the presence of plenty of Lansdowne defenders.

Fresh on from the visitors’ bench, Jack Matthews made an almost immediate impact. He combined with fellow replacement Steve McMahon to spark a blindside break from 60 metres out, with centres Rory Parata and Marks surging downfield before putting the supporting Matthews over.

That score took Lansdowne into double figures at 29-12 down, but they leaked a couple of sloppy late penalties and Moloney landed a central place-kick to push through the 100-point mark for the season.

Lansdowne failed to gather Moloney’s restart as the second half got underway, and Sheehan and Deegan were the ones to profit. A penalty set up a maul, and Sheehan had stayed wide after his throw-in, with Gerry Hill breaking to the left to send his skipper crashing over in the corner.

Despite Moloney’s conversion widening the gap to 27 points, Lansdowne knuckled down and got a timely boost when a clever lineout move saw captain Cooke peel away to the right to score. Tarrant’s high tackle on the try scorer earned him a yellow card.

McMahon’s conversion was followed five minutes later by Galvin’s bonus point effort, which saw him scamper in behind the posts after McMahon had initially nipped through a gap inside the UCD 22.

Moloney then caught Lansdowne napping at a midfield ruck, dashing clean through to make it 44-26 and seemingly break up the visitors’ momentum. His conversion attempt bounced away off the near left hand post.

Soon after Tarrant’s return to the pitch, McGuire saw yellow for a ruck infringement as UCD paid the price for repeated penalties. Lansdowne hooker Barry used the resulting maul to pile over the top of Moloney, with his try coolly converted by McMahon from near the left touchline.

The headquarters club roared back downfield from the restart, with the tireless Fitzpatrick leading the charge. Donough Lawlor was held up off a scrum but fellow replacement Liam Forster then won a turnover penalty, and the maul delivered five more points for Barry.

It also gave Lansdowne their second bonus point, while another well-struck conversion from youngster McMahon left just four points in it. They swiftly put a couple of handling errors behind them to send Sullivan charging back into the hosts’ 22.

UCD went down to 14 men again for the closing six minutes, as giant lock Alan Spicer, who is part of the current Ireland Under-19 training squad, was sin-binned for a high tackle on Parata.

However, McMahon’s young side stubbornly held on to claim the spoils, earning two scrum penalties to clear the danger after Barry had blotted his copybook with a couple of crooked lineout throws only a few metres out.

UCD: Niall Carroll; Harry Donnelly, Tim Corkery, Daragh Gilbourne, Ross Deegan; James Tarrant, Michael Moloney; Jack Boyle, Bobby Sheehan (capt), Rory McGuire, Alan Spicer, Gerry Hill, Matt Healy, Michael Colreavy, Sean O’Brien.

Replacements: Lucas Maguire, Hugo O’Malley, Evin Coyle, Rory Byrne, Rob Gilsenan, Tom Murtagh.

LANSDOWNE: Cathal Eddy; Peter Sullivan, Andy Marks, Rory Parata, Sean Galvin; Stephen Madigan, James Kenny; Ben Popplewell, Tom Barry, Greg McGrath, Steven Walshe, Ruairi Clarke, Jack Cooke (capt), Barry Fitzpatrick, Hardus van Eeden.

Replacements: Henry Godson, George Morris, Liam Forster, Donough Lawlor, Jack Matthews, Steve McMahon.