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Cork Con Win Inaugural Kearys Cup

Cork Con Win Inaugural Kearys Cup

Cork Constitution pulled clear of local rivals Dolphin in the second half to win Friday night’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A derby at Temple Hill.

Tom Tierney's men ran out 17-6 winners in the end, taking the losing bonus point away from their visitors thanks to two injury-time penalties from Tomas Quinlan.

Quinlan, one of Constitution's star performers from last year's All-Ireland Under-20 winning side, converted four penalties for a 12-point haul and dovetailed well with captain Gerry Hurley at half-back.

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Injuries and provincial call-ups have hampered Dolphin's hopes of registering their first league win in recent weeks, and that bad run of luck continued when back rower Ryan Murphy was forced off in the first half with a suspected broken arm.

It was encouraging to see Dolphin captain John Fitzgerald make his return from a long-term injury, but Steve Ford's charges will have been hugely disappointed to emerge pointless after a hugely committed display.

A Rory Scannell penalty cancelled out an earlier Quinlan effort by the end of the opening quarter, with Con wingers Darren Sweetnam and Rob Jermyn looking dangerous with ball in hand and the Dolphin pack growing in influence.

This round 10 fixture was just as tight as the sides' November encounter at Irish Independent Park which finished in a 6-6 draw.

After Murphy was stretchered off, Quinlan put a penalty wide before a successful strike close to half-time gave the home side a 6-3 buffer to take into the second period.

Scannell missed the target with an early penalty before the Constitution pack had to soak up further pressure. A return visit to the 22 yielded a 52nd minute which Scannell converted to bring his side level.

However, Con's forwards gained the upper hand, mauling through to present replacement hooker Max Abbott with the opportunity to touch down out wide. Incredibly, it was the only try scored by either side in their last three league meetings.

The conversion was off target at 11-6 and Dolphin missed a gilt-edged opportunity to respond, an overthrown lineout five metres out ruining a hugely promising position with Sweetnam – himself a former Dolphin player – in the sin-bin for infringing against Shane McAuliffe.

Despite the best efforts of Rob O'Herlihy and his fellow forwards, Dolphin had nothing to show for a number of penalties that were kicked to touch and James Murphy managed to clear the danger for Con.

That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Dolphin's challenge and those two late penalties from Quinlan wrapped up the home win, as Con collected the inaugural Kearys Cup – presented by the Cork car dealers who sponsor both clubs.

Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU)