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McKeon Emerges As Lansdowne’s Match Winner

McKeon Emerges As Lansdowne’s Match Winner

Conor McKeon was the hero for Lansdowne as his nerveless injury-time penalty decided Saturday’s low-scoring Division 1A top of the table clash, with Clontarf beaten 9-6.

Conor McKeon kicked Mike Ruddock's men to their third straight win – and their second of the month on the Aviva Stadium's main pitch. The result ended defending champions Clontarf's winning start to the new Ulster Bank League campaign.

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This was Lansdowne's second home game in succession to take place on the main pitch and after registering four tries in a 37-6 demolition of Dolphin, the 2012/13 league winners were in a confident mood as they welcomed Andy Wood's side to the Ballsbridge venue.

With many of last season's league-winning squad still involved, 'Tarf have made an impressive start to the current term.

Despite seeing a major overhaul in playing personnel – only Mark Roche, Ron Boucher and Paddy O'Driscoll remain from the league match between the two teams 18 months ago – Lansdowne are playing with confidence again, as exemplified by their dramatic away triumph over Cork Constitution last weekend.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the fifth minute when out-half Scott Deasy slotted a penalty from 30 metres out.

Since replacing Connacht's Craig Ronaldson as the club's principle place-kicker, Deasy has generally been coolness personified, and he made no mistake with his first opportunity of the game. Roche, Cian Kelleher and Tom Daly were all prominent as Lansdowne laid down an early marker.

Deasy's opposite number David Joyce levelled via a 15th minute penalty and this was a far cagier affair in comparison to the sides' recent meetings – they scored seven tries and 61 points in last April's game at the same venue.

The loss of winger Michael Brown to injury 19 minutes was a set-back for Clontarf but following a further Lansdowne indiscretion, the dependable Joyce expertly split the posts to offer a slender 6-3 interval advantage to the Bulls.

Clear-cut try-scoring chances were still at a premium on the restart and after Lansdowne lock Stephen Gardiner was sent to the sin-bin for dangerous play in the 51st minute, Joyce pushed a long range penalty wide.

The introduction of Ireland Under-20 internationals Dylan Donnellan and McKeon helped to give Lansdowne fresh impetus during Moylett's absence, although McKeon missed his first shot at the posts.

The former Gonzaga College pupil was on target from a more central position in the 67th minute to square things up between the last two league title winners.

In a nerve-wracking finale, referee Andy Brace awarded two penalties to 'Tarf on the hosts' 22 in the 72nd and 76th minutes but Joyce failed to convert either. He was particularly unfortunate with the second one which hit the woodwork and Lansdowne breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The headquarters club then built a platform to snatch a last-gasp victory, breaking from deep and drawing a penalty from Clontarf full-back Ariel Robles who also saw yellow. McKeon (pictured above) stepped up to fire the decisive kick over two minutes into injury-time.

Referee: Andy Brace (IRFU)