A hat-trick of tries from Billy Dardis proved to be the highlight at sunny Belfield on Saturday as UCD registered a comprehensive victory over Young Munster in Ulster Bank League Division 1A.
Young Munster were playing their third league game under the stewardship of new head coach Anthony Mathison. With a draw and a defeat from their first two league games, they were determined to open their win account in Dublin.
The Cookies did enjoy a bright start to proceedings with promising underage star Paul Downes (picured below) breaking the deadlock from the kicking tee during the early exchanges.
UCD had one win under their belts heading into this contest, and with Billy Dardis, Adam Byrne and Barry Daly forming a potent back-three, it was only a matter of time before the students settled into their usual stride on home turf.
The presence of Connacht's David McSharry, who is currently working his way back to full fitness, at inside centre was also a major boost for the hosts. 13 minutes in, lock Brian Cawley applied the finishing touches at the end of a powerful maul for UCD's first try.
Out-half Bobby Holland was off target with the conversion attempt, but he added the extras following UCD's second try barely two minutes later. After Peadar Timmins made an excellent break into Young Munster territory, his back row colleague Mark McGroarty was on hand to touch down underneath the posts.
UCD were now playing with real confidence and by the end of the first-quarter, they increased their lead to 14 points (17-3) courtesy of a well-worked five-pointer by the increasingly prominent Byrne.
The visitors were struggling to cope with the pace and power of Noel McNamara's youngsters, but they managed to force their way back into contention as the first half wore on. Just three minutes after Byrne's score, Munsters had the UCD defence under intense pressure and when a gap appeared inside the 22, the impressive Alan Kennedy was on hand to drive over the whitewash.
Out-half Downes was successful with the resulting conversion, which meant that the Young Munster deficit had been reduced to just seven points.
However, UCD were always a threat in possession, and with just three minutes remaining in the half, they secured their bonus point. Dardis has featured prominently for the Ireland Under-20s throughout 2015, and he showcased his undoubted quality by racing through the heart of the Young Munster defence for an excellent touchdown.
Holland was wide of the mark with the conversion, but thanks to a routine penalty from the number 10 they took a 25-10 advantage into the second period.
This late scoring burst from UCD left Young Munster in a precarious position, and they needed to issue a serious statement of intent after the restart if they were to gain a positive result from this encounter.
Mathison's charges enjoyed some good possession close to the UCD line on the resumption but after weathering this particular storm, the rampant Dubliners added their fifth try of the game.
McSharry was the creator for this latest five-pointer, and even though he was surrounded by a host of defenders, the quick-witted Dardis somehow squeezed through in the right corner. With the aid of the woodwork, the Naas native also added the conversion. He was later joined in the try-scoring stakes by fellow Kildare men James Tracy (pictured below) and Jeremy Loughman.
The front row pair got on the end of incisive attacking moves in the 58th and 60th minutes respectively, which helped to put UCD in a completely unassailable position. To Young Munster's credit, they responded with a converted try from second row Sean Duggan 14 minutes from time – offering the Cookies some solace as the final whistle approached.
Jamie Glynn, who had switched from scrum half to out-half following the withdrawal of Holland, broke through for UCD's eighth try of the afternoon and although prop David Begley gained a late consolation score for Young Munster, the students completed the scoring with a third try from Dardis.
Referee: Eddie Hogan O'Connell (IRFU)