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Clontarf Stung By Late Cork Con Try

Clontarf Stung By Late Cork Con Try

Clontarf’s grip on the Ulster Bank League trophy was loosened a little bit more when Cork Constitution beat the defending champions 13-10 at Temple Hill on Saturday.

Clontarf's fourth loss in their last five Division 1A encounters leaves them 10 points behind leaders Terenure College. They would be worse off but for a hard-earned haul of four losing bonus points and a lone try-scoring one.

Full-back Darragh Lyons landed a 20-metre penalty to get Cork Con off the mark, three minutes in, and he added a second five minutes later as Clontarf struggled to find their rhythm.

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The north Dubliners managed to respond with a penalty from returning out-half David Joyce, whose well-struck kick cut the gap to 6-3 for the interval.

The weather deteriorated in the second half and after Lyons watched a penalty attempt drift wide, Clontarf struck for the opening try when a good spell from the forwards yielded a 63rd minute score for tighthead Royce Burke-Flynn which Joyce converted.

That looked to a crucial seven-pointer for Andy Wood's men – until the closing stages when the home side managed to get back on top.

Showing great grit and determination facing in driving rain, the Cork Con pack led by example with Cathal O'Flaherty, eventual try scorer James Murphy and Luke Cahill all putting in big shifts.

Tom Tierney's charges had Clontarf pinned back in their 22 with a series of penalties leading to close-in lineouts and drives for the line.

The visitors dug their heels in and kept their defence intact until referee Mark Connolly sin-binned replacement hooker Cian Culleton, following an earlier warning.

The Leesiders went through upwards of 12 phases to wear down the 'Tarf defence and in the game's key moment, a five-metre lineout won by number 8 Cahill (pictured above) led to his back row colleague Murphy reaching over for a decisive 79th minute try.

Young out-half Tomas Quinlan added the extras and Constitution held on to end their two-match losing streak. They now lie just two points behind third-placed Young Munster in the table.

Clontarf centre Matt D'Arcy, who had got in among the tries in recent weeks, had some strong runs in the opening half but the title holders were unable to string together enough phases to really test the Cork Con rearguard.

Scrum half and captain Sam Cronin led by example for the visitors, kicking astutely as the pressure gradually grew on his side in the second period. He will have to do that and more when a hungry Ballynahinch outfit come calling at Castle Avenue next Saturday.

Referee: Mark Connolly (IRFU)