Clontarf’s winning start to the Ulster Bank League season was ended by a determined Cork Constitution side at Temple Hill on Saturday afternoon.
'Tarf travelled south on the back of four successive wins and adding extra spice to this encounter, had former Cork Con players Richie Lane, Evan Ryan and Frank Cogan in their team.
Brian Walsh's home side were desperate to gain a first home victory of the league campaign and it showed as they broke into a 10-0 lead.
Lane missed a penalty opportunity after Cork Con scrum half Gerry Hurley had opened the scoring with a precise 25-metre penalty.
The first half was entertaining throughout and played in near perfect conditions, with only a slight wind blowing across the pitch.
The Leesiders made a significant breakthrough in the 19th minute. Good work from Simon Zebo on the left sent Darragh Lyons into space and he drew the cover before passing for supporting Brian O'Hara to touch down.
A conversion and further penalty from Hurley sandwiched a Lane three-pointer as Constitution headed into the break with a 13-3 buffer.
The second half had an ill-disciplined edge to it, both sides giving it their all and the forward exchanges were particularly heated.
Lane and Hurley swapped penalties again as Cork Con maintained their 10-point lead despite losing Munster's Scott Deasy to the sin-bin.
In the 57th minute, referee John Carvill reached for his red card after Clontarf replacement Adrian D’Arcy spear tackled Cork Con's James Ryan.
A further yellow card for 'Tarf front rower Kenny Dorian, who was adjudged to have collapsed a scrum close to his line, reduced them to 13 men.
Cork Con took full advantage with a pushover try, Hurley pouncing from the base as his forwards shunted the 'Tarf pack over the whitewash.
He failed to add the conversion but 'Tarf were struggling to contain the wave of attacks. Cork Con's scrum was now dominant and a kind bounce from Johnny Holland's clever kick towards the right corner teed up centre Niall O'Driscoll for the hosts' third try.
Clontarf hit back from the restart, the quick-witted Noel Reid exposing some poor defending with a try that Lane converted from in front of the posts.
Andy Wood's charges managed to grab another try at the death. Reid broke from the visitors' ten-metre line to create the opening and captain Barry O'Mahony was up in support to sprint in at the left corner.
It was not enough to nab a losing bonus point however as Lane missed a difficult conversion attempt and Young Munster have now usurped 'Tarf as Division 1A leaders.
Speaking afterwards, Cork Con boss Brian Walsh said: “I was disappointed with the last five or six minutes but, coming off last week's performance and against a previously unbeaten team, I'd have to be happy with the win.
“We've got a young side, a new side. I believe they're plenty good enough but they have to believe they can go out and play. They did play today.
“You've got to give it everything to see how good you are, they did that and looked comfortable pretty much through the game.”
Referee: John Carvill (IRFU)