Barry Keeshan showed all his experience of Ulster Bank League rugby as he guided Dolphin to their opening win in Division 1A – a 21-15 home success against Old Belvedere on Saturday.
Barry Keeshan kicked 11 points at Musgrave Park, including a crucial late drop goal, as the Cork outfit held off a second half comeback from Old Belvedere.
The teams were competing for the first time for the McCarthy & O’Reilly trophy, a new cup to honour the rugby careers of former Dolphin players Jim McCarthy and Tony O'Reilly.
Both of these sides were held try-less in their league openers, and Dolphin were quick to get off the mark here with two inside the first 24 minutes.
Cian Bohane and Munster's Danny Barnes combined to set up the opener for Harry Fleming after 14 minutes. The try scorer did really well to beat three defenders on his way to the whitewash with Keeshan supplying the extras.
The Ireland Club international replied to a Josh Glynn penalty to restore the Corkmen's seven-point lead and they pushed on in the second quarter.
Good work by busy back rower Brian O'Callaghan led to Barnes releasing Bohane to score an unconverted effort in the corner. A further penalty from Keeshan strengthened Dolphin's hand to 18-3 for half-time.
Andy Dunne's Belvedere charges needed to score first after the break to get their challenge off the ground and they did just that, Leinster's Leo Auva'a powering through on a break which led to David Mongan touching down.
Glynn's successful conversion closed the gap to eight points and as 'Belvo upped it in the physicality stakes, Dolphin were being pinned back for long spells.
Keeshan was unable to relieve the pressure as he missed two difficult penalty attempts, but he steadied the ship with a pinpoint drop goal with 71 minutes gone.
'Belvo, who were beaten by Lansdowne last weekend, hit back with a breakaway score from Mongan for his second try of the afternoon. But the Dubliners could only manage a losing bonus point as Dolphin held on.
Referee: Michael Black (IRFU)