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O’Flanagan Try Sees St. Mary’s Edge Out ‘Rock
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O’Flanagan Try Sees St. Mary’s Edge Out ‘Rock

O’Flanagan Try Sees St. Mary’s Edge Out ‘Rock

St. Mary’s College collected their third successive Division 1B victory by defeating Dublin rivals Blackrock College 23-19 at Stradbrook on Saturday.

In a game which saw the gate receipts go to the Berkeley tragedy fund, Blackrock led 16-13 at the break thanks to a maul try from flanker Sam Cooke and 11 points from the reliable right boot of full-back Alan Hughes.

Ryan O'Loughlin and Mark Sexton touched down for St. Mary's during the opening 40 minutes and with Leinster's Darragh Fanning on as a half-time replacement, the visitors had the better of the second period. A close-in scrum paved the way for back rower Barry O'Flanagan to score the clinching try in the dying minutes.

The clubs' first league meeting since March 2012 saw two evenly-matched teams battle it out with St. Mary's coming to the fore in decisive fashion late on.

Blackrock had the visiting defence under pressure during the opening 40 minutes and should have been further in front than 16-13 at the interval. There were opportunities out wide against a St. Mary's rearguard that was caught narrowing on a few occasions, but 'Rock were unable to take advantage.

Young out-half Sean Kearns landed a 14th minute penalty and St. Mary's, who had teenage debutant David Aspil at blindside flanker, were 8-0 to the good by the end of the first quarter. Quick ball from a scrum saw backs Ray Crotty, Conor Toolan and O'Loughlin link on a lively break and the latter touched down out wide.

Beaten by Buccaneers in a high-scoring encounter last time out, Blackrock had the better of the second quarter with a 22nd minute penalty from Hughes getting them off the mark. Openside Cooke followed up with his try from a well-executed maul drive just six minutes later.

'Rock remained on the front foot with the ever-accurate Hughes punishing two further infringements after 36 and 42 minutes, leaving St. Mary's 16-8 behind.

However, there was still time for the visitors to squeeze in a second unconverted try and what a score it was. From a lineout 35 metres out, centre Sexton expertly dummied and stepped his way into space, charging forward and eluding the cover to run in a superb solo effort.

The intensity increased on the resumption and the defences noticeably tightened, making for very few scoring opportunities. St. Mary's were back level in the 58th minute when Kearns tucked away his second successful penalty.

Hughes responded with a 74th minute kick to put Emmet Farrell's charges within touching distance of victory. But the St. Mary's pack dug deep into their reserves of energy, winning a penalty three minutes later that led to a scrum. The subsequent pushover drive, following an initial reset, saw O'Flanagan control at the base before flopping over.

The conversion was not needed as the four-point margin was enough for the visitors to prevail, extending their winning run in this season's league to three games. They face another testing away trip to Dublin University under the College Park floodlights next Friday night.

Referee: Mark Connolly (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Alan Hughes; David Rowan, Sean Coughlan, Mark Gribben, Hugo Harbinson; Peter Quirke, Jack O'Carroll; Mikey Carroll, Conor Kilcoyne, Mark O'Brien, Owen Cullen, Cillian Duff, Luke Hickey, Sam Cooke, Gary Fenn.

Replacements: Tom Cooke, Colum Murphy, Peter McCague, Billy Glynn, David Scott-Lennon.

Away Team

Ray Crotty; Conor Toolan, Marcus O'Driscoll, Mark Sexton, Ryan O'Loughlin; Sean Kearns, Dave Fanagan; Rob Sweeney (capt), Rory O'Donovan, Brian McGovern, Ciaran Ruddock, David O'Connor, David Aspil, Barry O'Flanagan, Mark Fallon.

Replacements: Michael Elliot-Murray, Thomas O'Reilly, Ian Cullinane, Darragh Fanning, Ivan Dineen.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Sam Cooke; Con: Alan Hughes; Pens: Alan Hughes 4

Away Team

Tries: Ryan O'Loughlin, Mark Sexton, Barry O'Flanagan; Con: Sean Kearns; Pens: Sean Kearns 2