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Clontarf Notch Nine Tries In Dolphin Demolition

Clontarf Notch Nine Tries In Dolphin Demolition

Hat-trick hero Max McFarland was the star performer at Castle Avenue as Clontarf consolidated their position at the summit of the Division 1A table with a stunning 59-7 victory over an overwhelmed Dolphin.

This was a major statement of intent from Clontarf and if they maintain this momentum for the remainder of the campaign, then there is every chance that they will be crowned Ulster Bank League champions for 2013/14.

A 9-8 reversal to Cork Constitution at Castle Avenue on February 1 brought the north Dubliners' nine-match winning run to an abrupt halt, but they still came into this game in a very healthy position – leading Old Belvedere on scoring difference.

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While 'Tarf were idle for the remainder of the month after their Valentine’s Day fixture against UCD was postponed due to an unplayable pitch at Belfield, Dolphin’s game against Cork Con at Temple Hill on the same night was given the go-ahead.

The Musgrave Park outfit edged the local derby on a scoreline of 9-6 and having also registered an impressive away triumph over Ballynahinch on January 25, they had climbed up to sixth place in the table.

However, 'Tarf embarked on this encounter with great determination and right from the kick-off they forced Dolphin on the back foot.

The Cork side displayed admirable resistance against this early tidal wave by the hosts, but relentless pressure eventually paid dividends for Clontarf with just seven minutes on the clock.

Flanker Karl Moran touched down on the left at the end of an enterprising move in the Dolphin 22 and with David Joyce converting with ease, Andy Wood's men were already firmly in the driving seat.

Dolphin's usually reliable place-kicker Barry Keeshan was off target from a 10th minute penalty, and Dolphin soon leaked a second try when flying winger Max McFarland crossed via a beautifully-measured sidestep.

Joyce was narrowly wide with the conversion but it seemed like only a matter of time before his side added further tries to their tally.

The loss of scrum half Chris Bannon to injury on 29 minutes made life even more difficult for Dolphin, and Clontarf full-back Darragh Fitzpatrick soon got in on the scoring act with a well-worked five-pointer eight minutes before the interval.

Indeed, 'Tarf managed to secure the bonus point by the half-time whistle when a second Fitzpatrick score – following excellent approach play by Michael McGrath – added to Dolphin's woes.

This gave the home side an unassailable 26-0 interval lead and although there was a temptation to take the foot off the gas, 'Tarf continued to search for scores.

A try early in the second half by centre Killian Lett, as well a second from the outstanding McFarland, reasserted the superiority of the table toppers, and McFarland completed his hat-trick in style just past the hour mark from a magnificent grubber kick by Joyce.

This proved to be Joyce's last involvement in the game, but Fitzpatrick stepped into the role of place-kicker with consummate ease, splitting the posts brilliantly from the left touchline.

A committed Dolphin grabbed a hard-earned consolation try through centre Cian Bohane 14 minutes from time – routinely converted by Keeshan – but thanks to concluding scores by replacement Brendan Cuttriss and the ever influential McGrath, Clontarf cruised over the line and edged one step closer to league glory.

Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)