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Derby Spoils For Three-Try Cork Con

Derby Spoils For Three-Try Cork Con

Up-and-coming lock Brian Hayes touched down for the second week running as Cork Constitution took the bragging rights in this Ulster Bank League derby.

'Friday Night Lights' rugby was back with a bang on Leeside, a crowd of 2,000 enjoying a rip-roaring local tussle between these two ambitious clubs.

Tomas O'Leary's return from a lower back injury saw him bolster the Dolphin starting line-up, slotting in at half-back alongside talismanic out-half Barry Keeshan.

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But in wet and windy conditions, it was the visitors who seized the early initiative and by half-time they were 12-0 to the good.

Hayes and former Dolphin back Niall O'Driscoll crossed for tries, with Gerry Hurley taking his three-match haul to 25 points.

Constitution were first to get within try-scoring range and although Simon Zebo was denied out wide, the recycled ball allowed out-half Darragh Lyons tee up Hayes' converted score by the posts.

Keeshan's pass to winger Kevin Brophy from a quickly-taken penalty was ruled forward as Dolphin tried to hit back quickly, but the home pack was beginning to force the issue up front.

Still, O'Leary and the Dolphin backs were unable to unlock the Constitution defence and Brian Walsh's men, with the wind behind them, added to their lead just before the break.

Munster's Scott Deasy sent up an angled kick which was gathered by his leaping centre partner O'Driscoll who dotted down in the corner.

Digging deep, Dolphin clawed the deficit back to 12-10 within 10 minutes of the resumption. Keeshan landed his only penalty of the night and played a crucial role in setting up a converted try for centre Willie Devane.

Both Hurley and Keeshan missed penalty chances in the second half, the former's coming after O'Leary earned himself a yellow card for killing the ball. Cork Con number 8 Joe McSwiney was also sin-binned.

Dolphin, always so strong in front of their Musgrave Park faithful, were opened up again however, as a well-taken second try from O'Driscoll stretched Cork Con's lead back to seven points and it was enough for them to get back to winning ways.

They still had to endure a tense finale. With barely a minute left, Dolphin centre Harry Fleming dropped the ball just when it looked like the hosts would strike for a late try.

Dolphin's error count was high and they blew a number of opportunities whilst taking the game to Cork Con, who absorbed that pressure and struck for their scores with a clinical edge.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)