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Late Rally Sees St. Mary’s Topple Cork Con

Late Rally Sees St. Mary’s Topple Cork Con

The Ulster Bank League title race grows more interesting with each passing week after St. Mary’s College dug out a dramatic away win over Cork Constitution.

St. Mary’s are hanging onto the coat tails of Clontarf at the top of the table, with this victory on Leeside keeping them just a point adrift of front runners ‘Tarf.

The Dublin clubs are due to meet in a top of the table clash at Castle Avenue on Saturday, April 14, which will be broadcast live on RTÉ Two.

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Cork Con, who have now slipped out of the running for the title, played some open and expansive rugby in the first half but had little return for their efforts.

St. Mary’s full-back Gavin Dunne watched a 19th minute penalty attempt come back off the woodwork, before Constitution scrum half and captain Gerry Hurley kicked the hosts ahead nine minutes later.

Dunne replied with a well-struck effort in the 34th minute but Cork Con stole into an 8-3 half-time lead on the back of a breakaway try from the fleet-footed Niall O’Driscoll, who charged over from 30 metres out.

Brian Walsh’s men looked likely winners when explosive winger O’Driscoll crossed again three minutes into the second half, following some excellent work in attack by the Constitution backs.

But back came St. Mary’s with a Dunne penalty and a pushover try in the 53rd minute which was accredited to prop Rob Sweeney. Dunne conversion’s squared it up at 13-all.

In a tense, action-packed final quarter, Constitution edged ahead again courtesy of a Hurley penalty and a 62nd minute try by promising number 8 James Ryan. Hurley's conversion attempt rebound off a post.

Stung into action, the Dubliners hit back with a try of their own just three minutes later. Centre Stephen Grissing was the scorer and Dunne added the extras for a 21-20 scoreline.

A victory was vital for Peter Smyth’s charges to keep the pressure on Clontarf at the summit and they got over the finish line with a gritty late push.

They earned a 76th minute penalty which saw Cork Con full-back Sean Scanlon yellow carded for not releasing in the tackle.

Dunne steadied himself before coolly sending the resulting kick through the posts for the match-winning score, putting an end to Cork Con’s title ambitions in the process.

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)