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Absorbing Cork Derby Ends In A Draw

Absorbing Cork Derby Ends In A Draw

This Leeside derby between Dolphin and Cork Constitution was a try-less affair as Stuart Lee landed a late levelling penalty for the hosts in a 6-all draw at Musgrave Park.

Stuart Lee had rescued a draw for Dolphin at Old Belvedere last week and starting at out-half this time, he repeated the trick in the 81st minute to deny Cork Con the derby spoils.

Constitution veteran Darragh Lyons kicked a penalty in each half, as did Lee, with an enthusiastic crowd in excess of 2,500 baying for a try.

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It never came, but the home fans were very satisfied to see Dolphin make it three league games without defeat against their local rivals – they did the double on Con last season.

A general lack of accuracy cost both sides in the first half, and given the valuable league points and local bragging rights on offer a tense opening spell ensued.

Darren Sweetnam, who scored the winning try for Dolphin in the equivalent fixture twelve months ago, is now accustomed to wearing the white Cork Con jersey following his summer switch. The full-back threatened from deep on occasion, while Lyons probed from the out-half position.

This cagey affair was scoreless until Lee, taking over the Dolphin number 10 shirt from Barry Keeshan and Rory Scannell, landed a long range 25th minute penalty after Eamonn Mills had clawed back territory with a well-judged kick chase.

Willed on by the bumper crowd, Lee was unable to convert two further shots at the posts after Lyons had levelled for the visitors nine minutes before half-time. Sweetnam and centre Niall Kenneally both featured in the build-up to Con's opening score.

Individual errors proved costly for Tom Tierney's side in the opening 40 minutes as Con failed to profit fully from their dominant scrum and two penalties which set up close-in lineouts that Dolphin managed to defend.
Munster's fit-again flanker Dave O'Callaghan (pictured below) entered the fray on the resumption, although Lee pushed a penalty to the left of the uprights after some early Dolphin pressure.

Munster centre Ivan Dineen was stopped in his tracks by a powerful Daniel Horgan hit as the hosts defended with huge commitment, but Tierney's men were now carrying more of a threat.

Lyons landed one of two penalty attempts in quick succession, nudging his side into a 6-3 lead in a game that seemed destined to go right down to the wire.

Dolphin's efforts to prevent quick ruck ball stymied the Constitution attack time and again, and a clearly frustrated Kenneally was sin-binned for use of the knee at a 66th minute ruck.

Strong running from number 8 Luke Cahill saw him test the Dolphin midfield and Lyons sent a drop goal attempt wide after the visitors had worked the opportunity from clean lineout ball.

In a tense finale, a rare line break from Dolphin – centre Cian McGovern somehow found a way through – might have seen replacement Rob Reardon use an inviting overlap but instead he retained possession. Nonetheless, the attack led to a penalty which Lee stuck over from 25 metres out.

In response, Lyons had a second bite at a drop goal – the pass from the usually reliable Gerry Hurley was too high and his half-back partner, who did well to adjust, sent his resulting kick wide.

There was still time for Con winger Rob Jermyn – their top try scorer in this league campaign with two – to threaten the Dolphin try-line as he chased down a grubber kick. Thankfully for Dolphin, Shane McAuliffe got to the ball ahead of him to rescue the situation for the division's bottom side.

Dolphin head coach Steve Ford told the Irish Examiner: “I'm somewhat satisfied…I feel we created more opportunities but weren't clinical enough to put them away. We have made great progress despite many injuries. We had two draws in two weeks, so it's progress.”

His Cork Con counterpart Tom Tierney felt a draw was a fair result, saying: “Both sides had chances but I don't think we took what we could have. Likewise, Dolphin didn't take their chances in the first half with some missed kicks. Overall, would we have deserved a win with that level of performance? I don't think so.”

Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)