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14-Man Cork Con Topple Terenure To Bring Home #EnergiaAIL Crown

14-Man Cork Con Topple Terenure To Bring Home #EnergiaAIL Crown

Captain David Hyland as Cork Constitution celebrate their Energia All-Ireland League Men's Division 1A final victory over defending champions Terenure College ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Cork Constitution failed to let John Forde’s 19th-minute red card derail their bid for Energia All-Ireland League glory, as they led from start to finish in an outstanding 33-22 final win over Terenure College.


Sunday, April 28 –

Scorers: Terenure College: Tries: Jordan Coghlan, Aran Egan, Adam La Grue; Cons: Aran Egan 2; Pen: Aran Egan
Cork Constitution: Tries: Rob Hedderman, Billy Scannell, Danny Sheahan; Cons: James Taylor 3; Pens: James Taylor 4
HT: Terenure College 10 Cork Constitution 17

Second row Forde was dismissed for a shoulder-led tackle on Terenure’s Adam Melia, with Cork Con leading 10-0 at that stage. A subsequent Billy Scannell maul try gave them a 17-10 half-time buffer.

Playing with huge intensity and physicality, particularly in defence, Jonny Holland’s men were down to 13 and then 12 players, either side of the break, as Niall Kenneally and Sean Duffy both saw yellow.

Tries from Aran Egan and Adam La Grue had Terenure only trailing 23-22, but Matthew Bowen brilliantly held up Conor Phillips, and Con’s player-of-the-match James Taylor was hugely influential from the kicking tee and as a game manager.

Taylor punished ‘Nure’s indiscipline with 18 points in all, including three second half penalties, and Ireland Under-20 hooker Danny Sheahan came off the bench to claim the clinching try with seven minutes remaining.

The result saw Cork Con reverse the finishing positions in the table as they were crowned Men’s Division 1A champions for the first time since 2019, when they last appeared in the final. It is their seventh All-Ireland League title, moving them within two of record holders Shannon.

Shannon remain the only club to have retained the All-Ireland League trophy as Terenure, who were contesting their third straight final on the back of a 13-match winning streak, missed out on becoming back-to-back champions. They did end the campaign with a second successive Bateman Cup.

The first ever Energia All-Ireland League finals double header drew a crowd of 7,768 to the Aviva Stadium, and it was a Munster double as a Chisom Ugwueru-inspired UL Bohemian won the historic Women’s decider earlier on.

Con could hardly have made a better start. Ronan O’Sullivan muscled in for a turnover penalty, and two further decisions went their way before Rob Hedderman sliced over from 15 metres out in the sixth minute, via out-half Taylor’s short pass.

Taylor increased his influence with the conversion and some more sharp playmaking, although table toppers Terenure, despite struggling to gain an early foothold, stood up well in defence to force the in-form Bowen and Daniel Hurley both into touch.

A Luke Clohessy knock-on prevented Terenure from capitalising on some rare space out wide, and Con ended the opening quarter with a 10-point lead. Taylor had to rush a long-range penalty after the ball fell off the tee, but he coolly cleared the crossbar.

However, the Leesiders were rocked just moments later by Forde’s dismissal. A TMO review highlighted his shoulder-to-head challenge on Melia. Con argued that the attacker was dipping into it, but refere Andrew Cole reached for his red card.

Egan opened his and Terenure’s account with a straightforward penalty in the 23rd minute, albeit that they went to the corner from an initial infringement and the lineout malfunctioned.

Egan ran a kick back with interest, giving the defending champions some more attacking momentum until Harrison Brewer’s looping pass was plucked down by Con winger Bowen. Holland’s side showed how clinical they can be from the next penalty, conceded at the breakdown by Levi Vaughan.

Taylor’s reliable ight boot set up a lineout, barely 12 metres out, and a barnstorming drive, with centre Kenneally also joining it, ended with Scannell crashing over. The extras were neatly slotted over from the right by Taylor.

Despite losing Luke Clohessy to injury, Terenure hit back with their first try five minutes before the interval. Con had a frustrating maul turnover, and the possession eventually led to Jordan Coghlan evading the clutches of both Scannell and Duffy to stretch out and pull back seven points.

Referee Andrew Cole gave Kenneally a yellow for a foot trip on number 8 Coghlan, four minutes later, and as Con scrambled to avoid a further concession, Jack Kelleher held up Terenure replacement Conan O’Donnell off a close-in lineout.

Con came under further pressure on the resumption, losing Duffy to the bin for cynical play at a ruck. ‘Nure stretched the defence for Phillips to get his pass out for Egan to go over from the left wing. He narrowly missed the conversion at 17-15 down.

Nonetheless, a Brewer neck roll allowed Taylor to quickly make it 20-15. Con were also back up to 13 players with Billy Crowley replacing former skipper Kenneally.

‘Nure’s discipline was coming under more scrutiny, with a scrum penalty followed by Peter Sylvester’s high tackle on the advancing Crowley. Taylor mopped up with the three points on offer, leaving eight points in it.

However, Phillips chased down the restart kick to force a knock-on from Kelleher. A couple of phases later, Alan Bennie made use of numbers on the left, the ball ending up with La Grue who sped away from Hurley and stepped inside Hedderman’s tackle for a brilliant finish.

Egan converted from out wide, setting up a fascinating final 25 minutes. ‘Nure missed a golden chance to go ahead when Egan broke from deep. He sent Phillips haring towards the left corner, only for the fast-reacting Bowen to bring him down and get under the ball to deny him a certain try.

Con looked to their bench and it brought the desired impact, a series of carries leading to O’Donnell infringing with a no-arms tackle inside the ‘Nure 22. Taylor did the rest, giving the 14 men a 26-22 advantage.

Con’s maul defence stood up to the task, and after Terenure had turned down a simple three-pointer, they narrowly missed out on another try. The men in white continued to landed their tackles and hold out, leading to a knock-on from ‘Nure scrum half Bennie.

‘Nure’s frustration grew with a trio of penalties conceded in quick succession, including one at the breakdown when Louis Kahn pinched a turnover. Con turned down a kick at the points, their maul going close before Sheahan, supported by Brendan Quinlan, drove over from a ruck.

Taylor topped off his haul with another well-struck conversion, and Con’s relentless defence prevented Sean Skehan’s charges from replying late on. Captain David Hyland stole a lineout, and Harry O’Riordan’s penalty win at the breakdown typified his team’s tenacity.

TIME LINE: 6 minutes – Cork Constitution try: Rob Hedderman – 0-5; conversion: James Taylor – 0-7; 17 mins – Cork Constitution penalty: James Taylor – 0-10; 19 mins – Cork Constitution red card: John Forde; 23 mins – Terenure College penalty: Aran Egan – 3-10; 28 mins – Cork Constitution try: Billy Scannell – 3-15; conversion: James Taylor – 3-17; 35 mins – Terenure College try: Jordan Coghlan – 8-17; conversion: Aran Egan – 10-17; 39 mins – Cork Constitution yellow card: Niall Kenneally; Half-time – Terenure College 10 Cork Constitution 17; 44 mins – Cork Constitution yellow card: Sean Duffy; 45 mins – Terenure College try: Aran Egan – 15-17; conversion: missed by Aran Egan – 15-17; 49 mins – Cork Constitution penalty: James Taylor – 15-20; 53 mins – Cork Constitution penalty: James Taylor – 15-23; 54 mins – Terenure College try: Adam La Grue – 20-23; conversion: Aran Egan – 22-23; 61 mins – Cork Constitution penalty: James Taylor – 22-26; 73 mins – Cork Constitution try: Danny Sheahan – 22-31; conversion: James Taylor – 22-33; Full-time – Terenure College 22 Cork Constitution 33

TERENURE COLLEGE: Adam La Grue; Conor Phillips, Sam Berman, Peter Sylvester, Craig Adams; Aran Egan, Alan Bennie; Campbell Classon, Levi Vaughan, Adam Tuite, Harrison Brewer (capt), Matthew Caffrey, Adam Melia, Luke Clohessy, Jordan Coghlan.

Replacements used: Jim White for Clohessy (26 mins), Conan O’Donnell for Tuite (37-62), Mikey O’Reilly for Caffrey (51), Ben Howard for Classon (62-76). Not used: Max Russell, Conor McKeon, Yago Fernandez Vilar, Barry Galvin.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Rob Hedderman; Daniel Hurley, Harry O’Riordan, Niall Kenneally, Matthew Bowen; James Taylor, Adam Maher; Alessandro Heaney, Billy Scannell, Luke Masters, Sean Duffy, John Forde, Jack Kelleher, Ronan O’Sullivan, David Hyland (capt).

Replacements used: Eoin Quilter for Duffy (37 mins-half-time), Billy Crowley for Kenneally (49), Danny Sheahan for Scannell, Charlie Connolly for Masters, Matisse Lamarque d’Arrouzat for Duffy, Rob Jermyn for Hedderman, Quilter for O’Sullivan (all 56), Brendan Quinlan for Heaney (56-75), Louis Kahn for Maher (64).

Referee: Andrew Cole (IRFU)