CLONTARF 43 CORK CONSTITUTION 12, Castle Avenue
Clontarf will be notable absentees from the Ulster Bank League semi-finals despite thrashing title holders Cork Constitution 43-12 on Castle Avenue's 4G pitch this afternoon.
Lying fifth entering the final round, Clontarf did as much as they could to try and keep up their enviable record of regularly featuring in Division 1A’s knockout stages, but it was not to be as Garryowen held onto fourth place with a similar result at home to St. Mary’s College.
Cork Con had their own hopes of holding onto second place for a home semi-final, and first half tries from Ireland Sevens international Alex McHenry and prop Dylan Murphy ensured that they were level at half-time (12-all).
However, the visitors were completely overwhelmed in the second period as Clontarf’s quick-witted attack found an extra couple of gears and added five tries to those earlier scores from classy centre Matt D’Arcy and Ireland Under-20 scrum half Hugh O’Sullivan.
D’Arcy’s clever angles of running and ability to pop up on the shoulders of his team-mates continued to cause problems for the Con defence, and he deservedly completed his brace to end the league campaign with 10 tries.
Munster Academy full-back Jack Power linked well and covered good ground in attack, running in a well-taken try to boot, while D’Arcy’s centre partner Sean O’Brien and forwards Neil Reilly and Royce Burke-Flynn also crossed the whitewash for Andy Wood’s dominant charges.It is just a pity that Clontarf left this sort of free-scoring form for the final round.
Four defeats in the last seven rounds proved particularly costly for the 2014 and 2016 champions who have appeared in the last three Division 1A finals.
The manner of this defeat will rankle with Hickey and his players, but they have been questioned before and come back stronger.
It is a massive two weeks ahead for Con as they put their Bateman Cup and league titles on the line against Lansdowne in next Saturday’s cup decider at Temple Hill (kick-off 1pm), before travelling to Terenure for their April 28 Division 1A semi-final at Lakelands.
CLONTARF: Jack Power; James McKeown, Sean O'Brien, Matt D'Arcy, Cian O'Donoghue; David Joyce, Hugh O'Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, Vakh Abdaladze, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Adrian D'Arcy.
Replacements: Jonathan Larbey, Neil Reilly, Royce Burke-Flynn, Andrew Feeney, Ariel Robles.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O'Connell; JJ O'Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally, Rob Jermyn; Tomas Quinlan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O'Brien, Dylan Murphy, Conor Kindregan (capt), Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Graeme Lawler, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: David McCormack, Brendan Quinlan, Joe McSwiney, Gerry Hurley, Ned Hodson.
GARRYOWEN 48 ST. MARY'S COLLEGE 21, Dooradoyle
Liam Coombes was the scoring star for Garryowen as his hat-trick of tries helped them sweep St. Mary’s College aside in a 48-21 bonus point win at Dooradoyle.
After seeing Young Munster regularly reach semi-finals in recent seasons, Garryowen ousted their Limerick rivals on this occasion by winning six of their last seven matches of the regular season.
Chasing the Light Blues’ first semi-final appearance since 2009, Conan Doyle’s side were locked in a tight contest at the interval, as St. Mary’s, who have the Division 1B promotion/relegation play-offs to negotiate over the next fortnight, were only 17-16 behind.
Boosted by the return of Leinster prospect Caelan Doris from injury, Mary’s revelled in what was a very open start to the game and weighed in with two terrific tries from in-form winger Conor Toolan.
However, Garryowen did enough to deserve their slender lead at half-time, 20-year-old Corkman Coombes (10 minutes), Bill Johnston (22) and Bryan Fitzgerald (32) scoring a try apiece in a very entertaining opening 40 minutes.
The hosts developed a winning cushion early on the resumption, as the elusive Coombes slipped through for a 47th-minute bonus point score.
It was neatly set up by captain Neil Cronin, Munster’s latest recruit, who broke expertly down the blindside of a scrum and passed for Coombes to step inside the covering Toolan and dot down.
Cronin converted and added a penalty to make it 27-16 before Coombes collected a cross-field kick to complete his hat-trick and make it 11 tries for the 18-match regular season.
Number 8 Darren Ryan and Ireland Under-20 centre David McCarthy completed the hosts' seven-try tally by the 72nd minute, the collective performance raising hopes for Garryowen’s semi-final tilt at title favourites Lansdowne on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch on Saturday, April 28.
Mary’s kept pressing for scores and got a smashing consolation effort from Myles Carey, one of their lively young backs.
The Dubliners have to regroup quickly for next Saturday’s Division 1B promotion/relegation play-off semi-final against an ambitious UCC team at Templeville Road.
GARRYOWEN: Andrew O'Byrne; Liam Coombes, David Johnston, David McCarthy, Bryan Fitzgerald; Bill Johnston, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Diarmuid Barron, Andy Keating, Sean O'Connor, Dean Moore, Tim Ferguson, Jack Daly, Darren Ryan.
Replacements: Liam Cronin, Ben Rowley, Mikey Wilson, Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham, Jamie Gavin.
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE: Dave Fanagan; Conor Gilsenan, Craig Kennedy, Myles Carey, Conor Toolan; Conor Dean, Paddy O'Driscoll; Tom O'Reilly, Hugo Kean, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), Jack Dilger, David Aspil, Ronan Watters, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Richard Halpin, Jack Aungier, Cathal O'Flaherty, Nick McCarthy, Darren Moroney, Daragh McDonnell, Matthew Timmons.
LANSDOWNE 26 BUCCANEERS 17, Aviva Stadium main pitch
Tom Daly ended his nine-month injury lay-off with an encouraging run-out in the colours of Lansdowne as the Division 1A table toppers finished off the regular season with a 26-17 bonus point victory over relegated Buccaneers.
The Carlow man injured his ACL during Leinster’s first pre-season game against Perpignan back in August, and he returned to competitive action today when partnering Lansdowne’s top try scorer this term, Mark O’Keefe, in the centre.It was the home forwards who dictated the early play, teeing up converted tries for hooker Adam Boland after two and 25 minutes.
Daly’s Leinster colleague Peter Dooley added his weight to an already powerful Lansdowne set piece.Conor ‘Doc’ Murphy got a rare chance to impress in Lansdowne’s number 10 jersey, stepping in for Scott Deasy who was being rested ahead of next Saturday’s Ulster Bateman Cup final in his native Cork and the forthcoming league play-offs.
Connacht’s Conor McKeon opened Buccs’ account with a penalty before half-time, but Lansdowne were getting the best out of the Aviva Stadium’s wide expanses and scrum half Alan Bennie crossed for a quick-fire try double in the third quarter.
With their seventh try bonus in the bag, Lansdowne took their foot off the gas and second row Josh O’Rourke’s 53rd-minute sin-binning invited the Athlone men forward.
McKeon nipped over for a try to complete his own 12-point tally, before winger Darragh Corbett added an 80th-minute effort, a solid return for an improved final quarter display from the Pirates.
LANSDOWNE: Ian Fitzpatrick; Foster Horan, Mark O'Keefe, Tom Daly, Adam Leavy; Conor Murphy, Alan Bennie; Peter Dooley, Adam Boland, Greg McGrath, Josh O'Rourke, Oisin Dowling, Barry Fitzpatrick, Conor Fenlon, Willie Earle (capt).
Replacements: Martin Mulhall, James Rael, Conall O'Brien, Gareth Molloy, Charlie McMickan.
BUCCANEERS: Luke Carty; Darragh Corbett, Callum Boland, Ben Carty, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Conan O'Donnell, Simon Meagher, Dan Law, Cian Romaine, Evan Galvin, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Rory Grenham, Conor Kenny, Ruairi Byrne, Graham Lynch, Frankie Hopkins.
TERENURE COLLEGE 50 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 12, Lakelands Park
Having had second place wrestled away from them last week, Terenure College gleefully took it back as a 50-12 hammering of Dublin University set up a home semi-final against Cork Constitution.
Con have home advantage for the play-offs within their grasp after last Saturday’s hard-earned 30-27 defeat of Terenure, but with the defending champions well-beaten by Clontarf today, ‘Nure capitalised to finish behind table toppers Lansdowne.
Former Leinster winger Sam Coghlan Murray (2) and Connacht Academy member Matthew Byrne showed their finishing ability as Terenure burst into a 19-0 lead by the half hour mark.
Full-back Byrne’s 26th-minute try was the best of the lot as the Trinity defence was cut to ribbons.With the students already assured of their top-flight status for next year, Terenure continued to dictate play on the restart.
Flanker Robert Duke missed out on a try when knocking on over the line, before lively replacement James O’Donoghue left four defenders in his wake to pocket the bonus point.
Lock Michael Melia and the pacy Coghlan Murray, who brilliantly took his season’s haul to nine tries, added further touchdowns and Mark O’Neill tagged on his fourth successful conversion to give James Blaney’s men a 38-point advantage.
Trinity staged a late revival, their captain Michael Courtney sparking it with a cracking try. Flanker Sam Pim’s subsequent score was sandwiched by two more tries from the semi-final-bound hosts, the first one a penalty try and then O’Donoghue - scoring again against his former club - snapped up a classy second try for himself.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Marc Hiney, Robbie Carroll, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O'Neill, Kevin O'Neill; Schalk Jooste, Robbie Smyth, Oisin Heffernan, Michael Melia, Alex Thompson, Cathal Deans, Robert Duke, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Cian Madden, Paddy Thornton, Kaleikumaka Konrad, James O'Donoghue.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Jack Kelly; Roghan McMahon, Michael Courtney (capt), Kyle Dixon, Evan Dixon; Tommy Whittle, Angus Lloyd; James Bollard, Paddy Finlay, Martin Kelly, Jack Burke, Alex McDonald, Sam Pim, David St Leger, Tom Ryan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Darragh Higgins, Niall O'Riordan, Rowan Osborne, Oisin Brady.
UCD 31 YOUNG MUNSTER 29, Belfield Bowl
Ger Slattery’s 11-year spell at the heart of the Young Munster front row came to an end with a late 31-29 defeat to UCD at the Belfield Bowl.
The former Munster hooker, who recently coached St. Munchin’s College to Munster Schools Junior Cup glory, is hanging up his boots after making over 300 senior appearances for the Cookies and earning four caps for the province.
He also gained representative honours as an Ireland Club international .Sixth-placed Munsters came into the final round with a slim chance of making the play-offs, and a three-try salvo - with wingers Conor Hayes (2) and Craig O’Hanlon - gave them a 19-7 advantage over the students at the break.
However, Slattery and his team-mates needed other results to go their way, and their Limerick rivals Garryowen, who held onto fourth spot, tidied up the play-off qualifiers thanks to a big home win over Dublin University.
Inside centre Evan O’Gorman’s well-taken score for a 26-7 Munsters lead proved to be their final try of the afternoon, as resilient UCD rattled off four tries in response, with the visitors only kicking a penalty from Shane Airey during that spell.
The eventual seventh-place finishers kept within range thanks to the try-scoring exploits of backs Colm Mulcahy and Tim Carroll and lock Brian Crawley, and they also coped better when both sides were down to 14 men. In the end, it was winger Carroll’s second try in the dying minutes which saw UCD win for the first time in three rounds.
UCD: Conall Doherty; Tim Carroll, Jamie Glynn (capt), Colm Mulcahy, Tom Fletcher; Matthew Gilsenan, Bobby Holland; Rory Mulvihill, Gordon Frayne, Liam Hyland, Brian Cawley, Emmet McMahon, Sean McNulty, Tom Tracy, Stephen McVeigh.
Replacements: Michael Moynihan, Jeremy Loughman, Alec Byrne, Jack Ringrose, Oisin O'Meara.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Conor Hayes, Luke Fitzgerald, Evan O’Gorman, Craig O’Hanlon; Shane Airey, Jack Lyons; Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Conor Bartley, Marc Kelly, Alan Ross, Alan Kennedy, Ronan Murphy, Ben Kilkenny (capt).
Replacements: Mark O’Mara, Gary Hoban, Tom Goggin, Jason Kiely, Rob Guerin.