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St. Mary’s Fall To Four-Try Dolphin

St. Mary’s Fall To Four-Try Dolphin

St. Mary’s College fell to their third successive defeat in Division 1A as their grip on the league title was loosened once again at Musgrave Park.

Stung 29-9 by Lansdowne last weekend, the defending champions really needed to lift their game in Cork but instead Dolphin continued on their upward curve with a bonus point win.

Steve Ford's men beat Old Belvedere and Shannon in recent weeks and pushed further up the table thanks to a penalty try and efforts from James Cronin, Chris Bannon and Eamon Mills.

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In very cold conditions, Dolphin laid solid foundations early on with Barry Keeshan probing the corners and the home pack, including late call-up David O'Mahony, getting on top.

The Corkmen, playing into the wind, seized their opportunity when lock Chris Rowe broke through to set up Cronin for the opening try after nine minutes.

Keeshan converted and with the St. Mary's scrum struggling to cope with the Dolphin squeeze, Keeshan tagged on three more points for a 10-0 buffer.

Munster head coach Rob Penney was an interested spectator, no doubt keeping a close eye on the progress of Cronin's front row colleague Christy Condon and centre Danny Barnes.

St. Mary's full-back Gavin Dunne settled the visitors with a well-struck 22nd minute penalty as they began to make inroads into Dolphin territory.

The Dubliners drove forward again with captain Richie Sweeney and Ciaran Ruddock both prominent, and a second penalty on the half hour from Dunne was their reward.

Scrum half Matt D'Arcy also came more into the game, providing some snappy passes to former Munster player Andrew Burke and kicking intelligently to keep his forwards on the move.

The action swung from end to end approaching half-time in a very competitive tussle, and a superb break by Dolphin skipper Niall Scannell led to Keeshan extending the lead to 13-6.

Lively scrum half Bannon sniped in for a 46th minute try as Dolphin remained in control, but a third penalty success from Dunne kept the visitors in the hunt at 18-9.

The complexion of the match changed in the final quarter as Dolphin's advantage in the scrum led to a penalty try on the hour, converted by Keeshan.

Mills, who threatened on a number of occasions on the counter, was up in support to take Bannon's pass from a quickly-taken lineout to seal the bonus point in the 72nd minute.

St. Mary's were hampered by a couple of yellow cards and could not hold out, and a last-gasp try from centre Robbie Hudson was little consolation for Hugh Hogan's well-beaten side.

Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)