Garryowen enjoyed an encouraging start to the New Year when they got the better of Clontarf on a 10-3 scoreline at Dooradoyle on Saturday afternoon.
The result moved Conan Doyle's charges up one place to third in the Division 1A table, just five points behind the north Dubliners.
Neither side could manage a score in a dour first half played on a rain-sodden pitch. The best chance fell to the Light Blues just on the interval, but their goal-kicking scrum half Neil Cronin was unable to convert, with Clontarf having missed two penalties of their own.
Garryowen, who suffered a 39-25 defeat at 'Tarf last month, conjured up the game's only try on the back of some excellent interplay between the forwards. An excellent 52nd minute offload from captain Josh Hrstich gave winger James McInerney the opportunity to knife through and touch down by the posts with Cronin converting.
'Tarf finally got off the mark thanks to a well-struck penalty from full-back Rob Keogh, but David Johnston punished a high tackle with a closing three-pointer which brought the visitors' four-match unbeaten run to an end.
This was a very positive outing for Garryowen whose defence was much improved from the sides' recent meeting, as Clontarf's most threatening backs – Mick McGrath and Matt D'Arcy – had precious few opportunities to attack.
Andy Wood's men had to cope with second half sin-binnings for forwards Jonathan Larbey and Karl Moran, with the latter's illegal tackle teeing up Johnston's clinching penalty, while Cronin saw yellow for the Light Blues.
Giving his reaction to the Irish Examiner, Garryowen forwards coach Paul Neville said: “Even though we ourselves scored four tries in the first game against 'Tarf, we conceded six. This time our defence was much better.
“We were offensive in our hits, chopped them low, and our line-speed was good so we limited the kind of chances that their dangerous outfield runners enjoyed the last day. We had lost three of our last four matches in the league as well as being knocked out of the Munster Cup so our confidence might have been a bit low, and we were without the Munster players.
“But we worked hard over Christmas and got our reward, especially at scrum time where we were on top and that came as a pleasant surprise.
“Individually, we had a few outstanding contributors and especially our captain Josh Hrstich, who continues to prove one of the finest forwards in the league.”
Referee: Eddie Hogan O'Connell (IRFU)