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Lansdowne Prevail In Extra-Time Thriller

Lansdowne Prevail In Extra-Time Thriller

Lansdowne came through a huge test of their Ulster Bank League title credentials as they edged out Young Munster 23-19 in an absorbing Division 1A semi-final that went to extra-time.

The May 9 decider between Lansdowne and defending champion Clontarf will take place on the main pitch at the Aviva Stadium – the scene of Lansdowne's epic victory over Munsters where a last-gasp try from hooker Tyrone Moran proved all-important for Mike Ruddock's men.

It was a heartbreaking finish for the Cookies who came into the play-offs as 10/1 outsiders for the league title, but they coped well with two first half yellow cards and Gearoid Lyons' reliable boot had them within touching distance of the final both in normal time and extra-time.

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Former Munster player Scott Deasy booted Lansdowne in front from an early scrum penalty, however his radar was off on a couple of occasions as the hosts failed to take advantage of the Cookies' high penalty count.

Young Munster centre Lyons equalised with his first successful kick on 25 minutes, the slippery conditions playing their part as attacks at both ends were foiled. The pressure increased on the visitors when they had two players carded in quick succession.

After Diarmaid Dee saw yellow for going off his feet at a ruck, Deasy briefly restored Lansdowne's three-point advantage before his opposite number Willie Staunton replied with a well-struck drop goal.

Lansdowne did manage to go in at the break with a 13-6 lead thanks to a well-worked converted try from centre Tom Daly. It owed much to a brilliant break from Leinster prospect Cian Kelleher, and supporting winger Ian Fitzpatrick did well to feed Daly (pictured above) with the scoring pass.

Munsters bounced back from that setback with an equally brilliant seven-pointer early in the second period. Right winger Diarmaid McCarthy (pictured below), who threatened on a number of occasions, darted onto a Staunton grubber kick at full tilt and expertly evaded the cover defence with Lyons converting.

Lyons delighted the vocal travelling support by adding a pinpoint penalty from near the touchline, moving John Staunton's side ahead for the first time in what was developing into a very cagey affair. Lansdowne then turned the screw in the scrum once more, winning a penalty which young replacement Conor McKeon converted to make it 16-all and send the semi-final to extra-time.

It was first blood in extra-time to Munsters as a Lyons' penalty went over off a post, rewarding scrum half Rob Guerin for a fine initial break and some excellent support work and carrying from full-back Kolio Hifo. Now 19-16 down, Lansdowne missed a chance to respond when McKeon was off target with a drop goal attempt.

However, Ruddock's charges found the answers when it mattered most as they wore down a Munsters defence that was missing the sin-binned Craig O'Hanlon. Moran emerged as the match winner in the very final play, using his strength to power over just to the left of the posts. McKeon converted and with that, Lansdowne's players and supporters erupted in celebration.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)