Garryowen’s Bryan Fitzgerald tries to break the UCD tackle. Source: Ben Whitley/INPHO


FIFTH-PLACED GARRYOWEN closed the gap on Division 1A play-off rivals Dublin University to a single point after emerging as 24-14 winners over UCD at the Belfield Bowl.

The Light Blues bounced back from successive defeats thanks in no small part to tries from Rob Guerin and Andy ‘Panda’ Keating, while their heavier pack also forced a second-half penalty try.

However, it was in-form UCD who hit the front in the ninth minute when tighthead Liam Hyland powered over the whitewash after Paddy Patterson had marshalled a series of forward drives.

It was a sloppy start from Garryowen, going seven points down with a man in the sin-bin, but they finished out the opening quarter on level terms. Scrum-half Guerin tapped a penalty and it proved a shrewd decision as he rejoined the attack for a clinical close range finish, with centre Peadar Collins supplying the extras from the tee.

Although the students continued to dominate possession as the first half wore on, Garryowen twice claimed turnover penalties to lift the siege on their try-line. UCD lost flanker Jonny Guy to a 32nd-minute yellow card, and a few minutes later, Collins stepped up to nudge the visitors 10-7 in front for the interval, but a scuffle on the stroke of half-time saw Hyland join Liam Cronin in the bin.

When play resumed, wind-backed UCD were on the front foot with out-half Matthew Gilsenan kicking a succession of penalties to touch. They were denied by some dogged defending, but UCD’s persistence paid off in the 53rd minute when the excellent Guy showed a great turn of pace to evade covering full-back Andrew O’Byrne and gleefully dive over for a try converted by Conall Doherty.

Chasing the game once more at 14-10 down, Conan Doyle’s charges enjoyed an extended attacking spell on the hour mark. Guerin almost sniped over on a couple of occasions and the influence of Collins and Jamie Gavin was growing. Seizing his opportunity in the 62nd minute, Keating showed impressive strength to ground the ball under a pile of bodies and Collins converted for a 17-14 scoreline.

UCD were now struggling to break out of their own half, and although they initially held out under immense pressure from the Garryowen scrum, a big drive from a few metres out shunted them backwards and referee Richard Horgan awarded the Light Blues their penalty try.

UCD did have one final chance to snatch a losing bonus point, but Doherty’s tricky penalty effort drifted past the uprights.

UCD scorers: Tries: Liam Hyland, Jonny Guy; Cons: Conall Doherty 2
Garryowen scorers: Tries: Rob Guerin, Andy Keating, Penalty try; Cons: Peadar Collins 2, Pen try con; Pen: Peadar Collins

UCD: Conall Doherty; Tim Carroll, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Cillian Burke; Matthew Gilsenan, Paddy Patterson; Sam Griffin, Bobby Sheehan, Liam Hyland, Cian Prendergast, Brian Cawley, Jonny Guy, Alex Penny (capt), Ronan Foley.

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Replacements: Richie Bergin, Evin Coyle, Keelan McKenna, Nick Peters, Aaron O’Sullivan.

GARRYOWEN: Andrew O’Byrne; Bryan Fitzgerald, Peadar Collins, Dave McCarthy, Cian O’Shea; Jamie Gavin, Rob Guerin; Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, Andy Keating, Kevin Seymour, Dean Moore (capt), Sean O’Connor, Tim Ferguson, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Mullany, Alan Fitzgerald, Ben Swindlehirst, Evan Maher.

Clontarf coach Andy Wood (file photo). Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO


Front rowers Declan Adamson and Ivan Soroka got on the scoresheet in Clontarf’s runaway 45-14 bonus point win over Shannon which has propelled the north Dubliners into second place in All-Ireland League Division 1A.

Clontarf have edged ahead of Lansdowne, who were thumped 49-17 by leaders Cork Constitution, in the race for a home semi-final. They are a point ahead of the defending champions heading into the final three rounds which conclude with a mouth-watering clash between the heavyweight Dublin clubs at the Aviva Stadium in mid-April.

Clontarf’s forward power was in full effect early on against Shannon, winning a scrum penalty and then driving Adamson over from a fifth-minute maul. Adamson, a bright prospect, was involved in the Ireland U20 camp last week, but his try was cancelled out in the 12th minute when the visitors profited from a quick turnover with flanker Luke Moylan touching down on the all-weather pitch.

The scores were coming thick and fast, Tarf responding on the quarter hour with a midfield break which ended with winger James McKeown going in under the posts. It was 21-7 after they used a penalty advantage from a maul to spread the ball wide and send centre Michael Courtney over. David Joyce landed his third successful conversion, but young out-half Ben Daly’s well-taken 29th-minute score had Shannon just seven points in arrears at half time.

Andy Wood’s men took advantage of a Shannon sin-binning in the third quarter to secure their bonus point, a well-executed maul putting loosehead Soroka over in the 58th minute. With missed tackles inviting Tarf forward, a pacy attack saw scrum half Angus Lloyd score in the corner and replacement Conor Kelly converted with aplomb for a 33-14 scoreline. McKeown then burst through a tackle to complete his brace with 16 minutes remaining.

Shannon had enough possession and territory to hit back during the closing stages, aided by some strong carries from Kelvin Brown, Pa Ryan’s breaking ability in midfield, and a series of penalties which left Tarf down to 14 men. However, a forward pass let the hosts off the hook and Tarf used a scrum penalty to launch themselves forward, chipping away at the defence before Matt D’Arcy capitalised on some tired legs to run in his eighth try of the campaign.

Clontarf scorers: Tries: Declan Adamson, James McKeown 2, Michael Courtney, Ivan Soroka, Angus Lloyd, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: David Joyce 3, Conor Kelly 2

Shannon scorers: Tries: Luke Moylan, Ben Daly; Cons: Ben Daly, Jack Stafford

CLONTARF: Jack Power; James McKeown, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Declan Adamson, Vakh Abdaladaze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Ruadhan Byron, Tony Ryan, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Paddy Finlay, Tom Ryan, Royce Burke-Flynn, Hugo Lennox, Conor Kelly.

SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Jack O’Donnell, Pa Ryan, Robbie Deegan, Eathon Moloney; Ben Daly, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Jade Kriel (capt), Luke Moylan, Kelvin Brown, Colm Heffernan.

Replacements: Ty Chan, Luke Masters, Thomas Ahern, Aran Hehir, Ger Finucane.

Cork Con captain Niall Kenneally. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO


Captain Niall Kenneally enjoyed a try-scoring return as he helped Division 1A leaders Cork Constitution coast to a brilliant 49-17 bonus point win over their nearest rivals Lansdowne.

Cork Con turned in their best performance of the season at Temple Hill with Kenneally, who missed their recent games against UCD and Garryowen, and Ireland Sevens international Alex McHenry both impressing in midfield. The hosts ran in seven tries to virtually assure themselves of home advantage in the play-offs – they are now 13 points clear of third-placed Lansdowne with three rounds remaining.

This heavy defeat unfortunately came on the day that Lansdowne stalwart Willie Earle broke the club’s record for All-Ireland League appearances in his 143rd game. Earle and his team-mates were trailing inside seven minutes when winger Greg Higgins opened the scoring for Con. Jason Higgins’ terrific break from halfway paved the way for Kenneally to touch down in the 22nd minute.

Adding to Lansdowne’s woes, Con out-half Aidan Moynihan also had a superb day with the boot, landing all seven conversions. Brian Hickey’s men had four tries on the board to lead 28-5 at half-time with scrum half Higgins deservedly crossing the whitewash. Lansdowne, who had won October’s meeting 35-27 at home, replied with an unconverted score from openside Aaron Conneely, the pick of their forwards.

However, with their varied attack continued to prod holes in the Dubliners’ defence, Con tagged on three more tries in the second half as hard-working forwards Brian Hayes and Kevin Sheahan got in on the act along with centre McHenry. Late scores from wingers Daniel McEvoy and Peter Sullivan – his 10th of the season – salvaged some pride for Lansdowne, who have slipped from second to third in the table with Clontarf leapfrogging them.

Cork Constitution scorers: Tries: Jason Higgins, Niall Kenneally, Greg Higgins, Liam O’Connell, Brian Hayes, Kevin Sheahan, Alex McHenry; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 7

Lansdowne scorers: Tries: Aaron Conneely, Peter Sullivan, Daniel McEvoy; Con: Scott Deasy