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Late Riordan Drop Leaves Clontarf Reeling

Late Riordan Drop Leaves Clontarf Reeling

Clontarf’s hopes of retaining their Ulster Bank League crown took a further hit on Friday night as Daniel Riordan’s late drop goal gave Old Belvedere a 20-17 comeback win at Castle Avenue.

After a mistake-riddled first half during which Josh Glynn and Alan Hughes scored a penalty apiece, Clontarf seemed to have the game within their grasp when converted tries from Ariel Robles and Matt D'Arcy pushed them 17-3 clear.

Winger Robles did really well to control a grubber kick from young replacement Mark Sutton near the left touchline and win the race to touch down, while shortly afterwards out-half D'Arcy supplied the finishing touches to a clever blindside break involving number 8 Tony Ryan.

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However, Old Belvedere, who were held to a draw by Dolphin last week, found an extra gear to work Charlie Rock and Adam Howard over for tries and set up a grandstand finish.

Winger Glynn's second successful conversion tied things up before full-back Daniel Riordan – the reigning Division 1A Player of the Year – stepped forward to condemn 'Tarf to their third defeat in six games.

The north Dubliners had won eleven of their last 12 league games at Castle Avenue, and this latest loss is a significant blow as they now lie third overall and a full 10 points behind table-topping Terenure.

In cold, fresh conditions with a cross-field wind, the teams were evenly matched over the opening 15 minutes. 'Tarf were first to threaten, with hooker Turlough Considine's quick reactions almost leading to an opportunist try.

Full-back Hughes, kicking in the absence of top scorer David Joyce, knocked his first penalty wide and hit the woodwork with the second as a stalemate ensued.

Glynn, at the opposite end, also had a wayward penalty attempt before finding his range to give Paul Cunningham's charges the lead. But the sin-binning of flanker Kieran O'Gorman allowed 'Tarf to find the first half in good stead and Hughes duly levelled from the kicking tee.

'Tarf head coach Wood looked to his bench to make an impact, introducing Cian Culleton and Peter du Toit at hooker and scrum half respectively.

Another reserve, former Newbridge College out-half Sutton, had a key contribution in the build-up to Robles' breakthrough try as the speedy winger raced onto the kick and dribbled forward before scoring, with Hughes nailing the conversion from the left.

The home crowd roared their approval when D'Arcy slipped through for his second try in three league outings, having combined with Ryan. With Hughes adding the extras again, the margin was suddenly out to 14 points.

However, 'Tarf allowed Old Belvedere to stay in touch as nippy Leinster Under-20 scrum half Rock left the home defence in his wake and barely five minutes later, replacement prop Howard muscled over on the right, between two covering defenders, for a 17-15 scoreline.

Glynn converted to level matters and take his league tally to 36 points, but was another Belvedere back whose boot provided the difference between the sides.

The 'Belvo pack set up good field position and worked hard to give Ireland Club international ace Riordan the opportunity to left-foot a brilliant drop goal from near the 10-metre line and seal a win that seemed very unlikely at one stage. The result also saw them collect the Jack 'Binsey' Whelan Cup.

Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)