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Joyce Stars In Clontarf’s Six-Try Triumph

Joyce Stars In Clontarf’s Six-Try Triumph

David Joyce helped himself to 19 points in this Friday Night Lights clash at Castle Avenue as defending Division 1A champions Clontarf began 2015 with a comprehensive victory over a struggling St. Mary’s College side.

Clontarf registered six tries during the course of the contest to move temporarily into third place in table, whereas Mary's, who were Ulster Bank League winners as recently as 2012, currently find themselves second from bottom with just three wins from 11 outings to date.
 
The hosts have had a mixed start to the current campaign, recording five wins and five defeats before Christmas, but with Leinster's Mick McGrath now back in the fold, there are signs that they are beginning to build some serious momentum.
 
Full-back McGrath formed a potent back-three alongside Michael Brown and Rob Keogh, with centres Colm O'Shea and Matt D'Arcy also prominent for 'Tarf in the early exchanges.

David Joyce had an ideal opportunity to open the scoring from a 30-metre penalty eight minutes in, but the usually reliable out-half was wide of the mark on this occasion.

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This was only a brief reprieve for the visitors, though, and just three minutes later, Andy Wood's men broke the deadlock. Joyce, D’Arcy and Keogh all linked up effectively in attack and although McGrath's pass to him was slightly miscued, Brown evaded a number of Mary's challenges to score on the right wing.
 
Joyce made no mistake with the tricky conversion from out wide. McGrath had to temporarily depart through injury, however his replacement Anthony McGivney made quite an impact in his absence.

After Mary's had lost possession in one of their rare first half surges downfield, O'Shea brilliantly broke free to put McGivney away and in underneath the posts for a well-worked seven-pointer.

A successful penalty followed from Joyce three minutes before the interval and despite threatening to score through full-back Ray Crotty late on, Mary's were facing into an ominous 17-0 deficit for the start of the second period.


 
Yet, Peter Smyth's charges emerged with all guns blazing upon the resumption, and had narrowed the gap to just five points by the 52nd minute.

Starting prop Tom O'Reilly was reintroduced four minutes into the half, having made way for Rob Sweeney approaching half-time, and he finished off a powerful maul on the left hand side as Mary's finally opened their scoring account.
 
Replacement Gavin Dunne was off target from an awkward conversion, but he added the extras in emphatic fashion when lock Ciaran Ruddock, brother of Leinster and Ireland's Rhys Ruddock, finished off a similar move on the far wing.
 
The Templeogue outfit were suddenly back into contention, but 'Tarf quickly responded with their third try of the game. Despite being held up on the left wing on 54 minutes, the ball was spread effectively to the opposite side where loosehead prop Ivan Soroka was in the perfect position to dive over the whitewash.
 
This was a hammer blow for Mary's, who had worked hard to rein in the Clontarf lead, but thanks to a well-struck three-point attempt by Dunne, they were at least in losing bonus point territory – 22-15 – moving into the final quarter.


 
This was as close at the south Dublin outfit came to salvaging something from this fixture, though, and following a penalty 15 minutes from time, Joyce (pictured above) added an excellent individual try – collecting his own hack-on from halfway – to open significant daylight between the teams.

The score also secured the bonus point for the hosts and they further enhanced their superiority with 71st and 79th minute tries from Brown (his second) and industrious second row Tom Byrne, who did well to finish off some neat approach work from David Hegarty and Karl Moran.

Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)