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D’Arcy Try Keeps Clontarf Top Of The Pile
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D’Arcy Try Keeps Clontarf Top Of The Pile

D’Arcy Try Keeps Clontarf Top Of The Pile

Clontarf maintained their presence at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A, holding off a strong second half challenge from Galwegians to run out 16-9 winners at Castle Avenue.

Playing on their new 4G pitch, which was officially opened beforehand by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan, Clontarf scored the only try of a tight game through strong-running centre Matt D'Arcy.

Impressive tactical kicking from Galwegians out-half Aidan Moynihan gave them an early foothold in 'Tarf territory, but following a knock-on, they were forced onto the back foot for the first time.

The visitors then conceded a penalty to the table toppers, and up stepped full-back Rob Keogh to confidently dispatch his 10th minute kick through the posts from a tricky angle.

The opening score helped to settle Andy Wood's men into their stride, but Keogh hit the woodwork with his second penalty effort in the 16th minute. He tried to get on the end of his rebounded kick, only to knock the ball forward.

The same player hit the post for a second time just past the midpoint of the first half. However, the north Dubliners began to dominate possession-wise as the minutes ticked by and after prizing open a gap in the 'Wegians defence, Munster recruit D'Arcy powered through in the right corner for an eye-catching try.

Keogh was back on target with the conversion, before Galwegians finally opened their account in the 29th minute. The reliable Moynihan landed a straightforward penalty from inside the 22 to make it 10-3.

Keogh answered back two minutes before half-time, his second successful penalty giving 'Tarf a 13-3 cushion to take into the second period. With a decent lead and a big crowd behind them, last season's beaten finalists were hoping to push on after the restart.

It was 'Wegians who made the greater inroads in the third quarter, however, and thanks to excellent work from the their pack, a penalty was won for Moynihan to split the posts once more.

The young number 10 was wide of the mark from another place-kick, while winger Alan McMahon almost squeezed through for a try in the right corner as Matt Brown's charges continued to press for scores.

The flags were raised for a well-struck penalty from Moynihan, 14 minutes in, and with their lead cut to 13-9, Clontarf reacted by introducing experienced campaigners Sam Cronin and Evan Ryan into the fray.

The two backs certainly provided a different spark to the home side's play, and a close range penalty from Keogh in the 64th minute put some daylight between the teams again.

'Wegians never allowed their heads to drop, though, and Moynihan was unfortunate to see another kick at goal drift past the target with ten minutes remaining.

The excellent John Cleary made a strong break into the 'Tarf half but after receiving his offload, replacement prop Doron McHugh was penalised for not releasing.

This was the last realistic chance that the westerners had of closing the gap and even though they applied considerable pressure in the closing minutes, Clontarf held firm to take the win and stay in pole position in the top flight.

Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Rob Keogh; Rob McGrath, Conor O'Brien, Matt D'Arcy, Sean Long; David Joyce, Dermot O'Meara; Ivan Soroka, Brian Keelan, Dylan Doyle, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Karl Moran, Adrian D'Arcy, Michael Noone.

Replacements used: Eoghan Browne for Reilly (40 mins), Sam Cronin for O'Meara (49), Reilly for Byrne (55), Evan Ryan for O'Brien (57), Turlough Considine for Keelan (70), Dave Moore for Soroka (74).

Away Team

John Cleary; Adam Leavy, Brian Murphy, Dave Clarke, Alan McMahon; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Ja Naughton (capt), Jack Dinneen, Jason East, Peter Claffey, Marty Cummins, Marc Kelly, Josh Pimm, Anthony Ryan.

Replacements used: Doron McHugh for East (48 mins), David Nolan for Cummins (54), Cummins for Claffey (80).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Matt D'Arcy; Con: Rob Keogh; Pens: Rob Keogh 3

Away Team

Pens: Aidan Moynihan 3