UCD 22 ST. MARY'S COLLEGE 23, Belfield Bowl (played on Friday)
Sean Kearns' 13 points from the tee helped St. Mary's College edge out hosts UCD - 23-22 - in a compelling Division 1A contest at the Belfield Bowl last night.
The influential out-half was a key figure as the Peter Burke-coached Mary's team recovered from back-to-back defeats, keeping up their fine recent record against the students who lost twice to them last season.
With Ireland Sevens internationals Billy Dardis and Harry McNulty returning to the UCD back-three, the home side bossed possession early on but Ciaran Frawley was narrowly wide with his first penalty attempt, from a tight angle.
The deadlock was broken by Mary's in the 16th minute, their first serious attack seeing teenage winger Craig Kennedy surge into the UCD half and full-back Dave Fanagan gathered his offload to speed over in the right corner in superb fashion. Kearns swept over a terrific touchline conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Kearns increased his influence with a well-struck penalty from the 10-metre line, before UCD finally breached the visitors' defensive line just past the half hour mark. At the end of a sustained spell of pressure, winger McNulty burst down the left flank to finish off an incisive team move, with the conversion missed by out-half Frawley.
However, Frawley was on target when he comfortably added the extras to captain Jamie Glynn's try as half-time approached. As UCD began to dictate the flow of the game, centre Glynn intercepted a wayward Mary's pass out of defence to claim his third try of the campaign and make it 12-10 to the students.
Some excellent work by the Ciaran Ruddock-led pack sparked Mary's response on the resumption, Kearns firing his side back in front with his third successful penalty in the 50th minute. The dynamic number 10 added his fourth from a similar position just outside the 22, barely four minutes later.
UCD, who had brought on Leinster and Ireland prop Andrew Porter and Academy back rower Josh Murphy at the start of the second half, had to chase the game once more.
There was plenty of rugby left to play and Frawley's crisp 57th-minute penalty closed the gap to a single point, Mary's leading 16-15. Try-scoring opportunities were few and far between in a tense and tightly-contested final quarter.
With the clock ticking down, it was Mary's who were making the attacking inroads and they went through several phases close to the UCD posts.
Although a series of pack drives failed to produce a score, replacement Conor Gilsenan's pinpoint cross-field kick in the 75th minute sought out Myles Carey, a member of last year's St. Mary's Leinster Schools Senior Cup team, on the wing and the youngster got his hands to the ball to ground it for a crucial try, converted superbly by Kearns.
Kearns' fifth successful kick of the night had Mary's ahead by more than a converted score, but UCD fought hard for a last-minute losing bonus point when Matthew Gilsenan, a brother of Mary's squad member Conor Gilsenan, powered over the line for Frawley to convert and bring this eventful encounter to a close.
UCD: Billy Dardis; Stephen Kilgallen, Jamie Glynn (capt), Stephen Murphy, Harry McNulty; Ciaran Frawley, Nick Peters; Rory Mulvihill, Sean McNulty, Jeremy Loughman, Brian Cawley, Emmet MacMahon, Jonny Guy, Alex Penny, Stephen McVeigh.
Replacements: Gordon Frayne, Andrew Porter, Josh Murphy, Matthew Gilsenan, Tom Fletcher.
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Dave Fananga; Myles Carey, Darren Moroney, Ryan O’Loughlin, Craig Kennedy; Sean Kearns, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), David O’Connor, David Aspil, Nick McCarthy, Jack Dilger.
Replacements: Stephen O’Brien, Jack Aungier, Daragh McDonnell, Conor Gilsenan, Conor Dean.
CLONTARF 26 BUCCANEERS 6, Castle Avenue
Backs coach James Downey was back in the blue and red of Clontarf as they returned to winning ways in Division 1A with a 26-6 bonus point victory at home to Buccaneers today.
Hammered 51-17 last week by Garryowen, 'Tarf called on the 36-year-old Downey, who has dual status as Monkstown player-coach in the Leinster Junior League, to start at centre in his first outing for the Castle Avenue club in 11 years.
The well-travelled Downey, who retired as a professional in May 2016, helped 'Tarf take a 12-0 lead into the interval. Buccaneers welcomed back Ireland Sevens star Jordan Conroy from injury but prop Conor Kenny was stretchered off in an early setback for Darin Claasen's side.
Out-halves David Joyce and Luke Carty both missed penalty attempts, with the latter losing his half-back partner Frankie Hopkins to injury, before Clontarf found their form with a two-try salvo just before half-time.
Number 8 Michael Noone powered over for the first try after a series of five-metre scrums. Joyce converted and then Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne, who played for the province last week, added a second try from a well-executed lineout maul.
With winger Conroy's influence beginning to grow, Buccs had the better of the exchanges early in the second period. The wind-backed Carty went for goal from just inside his own half and nailed the penalty in superb fashion. Following further indiscipline from the 'Tarf defence, he cut the gap to 12-6 with a routine place-kick.
However, the Pirates, who remain without a win after four rounds, were on the receiving end of a double blow straight from the restart. A strong Byrne carry brought the home side into scoring range and then Matt D'Arcy's neat pass put Cian O'Donoghue through for a try in the left corner.
Buccs captain Shane Layden was sin-binned in the aftermath of the score and with Joyce adding the extras, 'Tarf set sail for the finish line. To their credit, the midlanders never allowed their work-rate to drop and the 69th minute sin-binning of 'Tarf replacement scrum half Hugh O'Sullivan offered them a potential lifeline.
Nonetheless, Clontarf boss Andy Wood reintroduced Andrew Feeney in the absence of O'Sullivan and he combined brilliantly with Downey to set up a D'Arcy try - his fourth of the campaign - under the posts. Joyce converted the bonus point score to round it up to a 20-point winning margin.
CLONTARF: Max McFarland; Rob McGrath, James Downey, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Bryan Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone.
Replacements: Dylan Donnellan, Neil Reilly, Royce Burke-Flynn, Hugh O’Sullivan, Conor Jennings.
BUCCANEERS: Rory O’Connor; Thomas McGann, Shane Layden (capt), Alan Gaughan, Jordan Conroy; Luke Carty, Frankie Hopkins; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Conor Kenny, Ruairi Byrne, Cian Romaine, Ronan Farrell, Simon Meagher, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Rory Grenham, Conan O’Donnell, Evan Galvin, Eoin O’Reilly, Sean Dempsey.
TERENURE COLLEGE 27 GARRYOWEN 20, Lakelands Park
Two-try out-half Mark O'Neill was the scoring star for the 1A leaders Terenure College during their 27-20 home win over Garryowen.
This afternoon's clash at Lakelands Park brought together two of the most impressive teams so far in the top flight this season - and the skilful O'Neill stamped his authority on the match with a 22-point haul.
O'Neill's try under the posts on the half hour mark came after a yellow card apiece for Garryowen number 10 Jamie Gavin and Terenure flanker Kyle McCoy. He converted to add to an earlier penalty, but the Light Blues cut the half-time deficit to 10-7 when the returning Gavin broke from halfway to set up a seven-pointer for winger Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham.
However, 'Nure displayed their table-topping form again when scoring at crucial stages in the second half, seizing back control thanks to a try from powerful Leinster prop Oisin Heffernan, ten minutes in.
Fresh props JP Cooney and JP Phelan were sent on for Garryowen, who replied with a David Johnston penalty, but man-of-the-match O'Neill was quick off the mark to grab a 63rd minute try and push the lead out to 24-10.
Front rower Phelan piled over seven minutes later to set up a grandstand finish, but the seven-point gap remained in place, O'Neill and Johnston swapping closing penalties which ensured both sides took something out of a bruising but entertaining game.
TERENURE COLLEGE: James O'Donoghue; Jake Swaine, Marc Hiney, Ted O'Donoghue, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O'Neill, Kevin O'Neill; Schalk Jooste, Robbie Smyth (capt), Oisin Heffernan, Alex Thompson, Michael Melia, Kyle McCoy, Paddy Thornton, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Cian Madden, James O'Neill, Konrad Kaleikaumaka, Willie Devane.
GARRYOWEN: David Johnston; Liam Coombes, Bill Johnston, Peadar Collins, Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Mike Sherry, Andy Keating, Tim Ferguson, Dean Moore, Darren Ryan, Mikey Wilson, Sean Rennison.
Replacements: Liam Cronin, JP Cooney, JP Phelan, Barra O'Byrne, Liam Barrett.
YOUNG MUNSTER 17 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 21, Tom Clifford Park
Dublin University erased an early 14-point deficit to claim the scalp of Young Munster (21-17) at Tom Clifford Park for the second year in a row.
Trinity turned things around in the second half thanks to tries from David St Leger and Jack Fitzpatrick, along with the place-kicking of Tommy Whittle who finished with 11 points.
Munsters were on course to follow up on last week's comeback win at Buccaneers when Tom Ryan, the former College Park favourite, and skipper Ben Kilkenny crossed for tries by the 25-minute mark.
Number 8 Ryan touched down against the run of play and with the Trinity scrum leaking penalties, loosehead James Bollard saw yellow before the visitors' defence crumbled far too easily and flanker Kilkenny crossed for his third try in two games.
However, there were promising signs for Tony Smeeth's youngsters before the break, Ireland Under-20 full-back Michael Silvester making a crucial try-saving tackle and a Whittle penalty opening their account at 14-3.
With Joe Byrne - last season's Blackrock College Schools Cup tighthead - solidifying the Trinity scrum, a second Whittle kick made it an eight-point game early in the second half.
Having been hammered by Lansdowne in round 3 and struggled early on here in Greenfields, this was a huge show of character from the students and flanker St Leger duly picked and drove over the line, making it a one-point game (14-13).
Although the boot of Shane Airey got the scoreboard moving for Munsters again, Trinity were creating openings with Billy O'Hora threatening on a break out wide and then, four minutes later, Dan Sheehan's neat offload sent winger Fitzpatrick over in the right corner.
The lead try went unconverted and after Munsters missed a touchline penalty in response, some great foraging from influential replacement Paddy Finlay at the breakdown led to turnovers and penalties for Trinity, with Whittle sending the last kick of the game through the uprights to seal a memorable first win of the campaign.
Director of rugby Smeeth will hope that today's result can kick-start Trinity's second season in Division 1A, which continues with an October 28 trip to basement rivals Buccaneers - the same day that eighth-placed Munsters travel to defending champions Cork Constitution.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Conor Hayes; Daniel Hurley, Ben Swindlehurst, Evan O’Gorman, Tom McHale; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; Peter Meyer, Mark O’Mara, Colm Skehan, Marc Kelly, Alan Kennedy, Ben Kilkenny (capt), Diarmaid Dee, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Ger Slattery, Paul Allen, Tom Ryan, Conor Lowndes, Rob Guerin.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Jack Fitzpatrick, Michael Courtney (capt), Kyle Dixon, Billy O’Hora; Tommy Whittle, Angus Lloyd; James Bollard, Dan Sheehan, Joe Byrne, Raef Tyrrell, Jack Burke, David St Leger, Richard Dunne, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Paddy Finlay, Darragh Higgins, Reuben Pim, Rowan Osborne, James Fennelly.