Old Belvedere have title in their sights
Clontarf need win over Ballynahinch and an unlikely favour from Garryowen
Old Belvedere 21 Dolphin 15
Old Belvedere are just one victory away from capturing the Ulster Bank League for the second time in four years following a hard earned victory over Dolphin at Anglesea Road.
Fullback Josh Glynn’s achievement of kicking all 21 points means that they will travel to face Garryowen at Dooradoyle next Saturday with a two point lead over their nearest challengers Clontarf.
Having gone down to surprise defeats in their last two matches, Clontarf are now facing the prospect of yet more disappointment in their bid to gain the elusive title. They must defeat Ballynahinch at home in their final game and hope that Garryowen can somehow do them a favour by beating Old Belvedere.
That would appear to be very unlikely given that Garryowen have already been relegated.
Predictably, though, the Old Belvedere coach Paul Cunningham believes that the encounter is far from straightforward. Having played and coached at Garryowen over a 20-year period, he should know what to expect.
“It doesn’t matter that they are already relegated.” Cunningham insists. “They have great pride and will be 100 per cent. It’s going to be tough.”
No doubt, Cunningham will be looking for the same attitude displayed against Dolphin. It was a match which saw a below par Old Belvedere come from behind after Dolphin had taken an early 10-0 advantage.
A try from hooker Niall Scannell after just five minutes rocked Old Belvedere. Outhalf Rory Scannell converted and then added a penalty before Old Belvedere found their feet with Glynn landing three penalties to reduce the deficit to 10-9 at half-time.
With the wind behind them in the second half, Old Belvedere seemed to be in good position. All the more so, as Dolphin had two players, secondrow Chris Rowe and centre John Gleeson yellow carded compared to one, wing Aidan Wynne for Old Belvedere.
But the home side badly missed the sharpness of their injured full-back and captain Danny Riordan. Fortunately, Leo Auva’a produced a big performance at No 8 and Glynn continued to knock over his penalty opportunites in the difficult windy conditions. He landed seven out of eight attempts in all while Dolphin responded with a well worked unconverted try from right-wing Eoin O’Shaugnesssy.
Desperate to stay ahead of Ballynahinch in the battle to avoid the second from bottom position in the table, they caused Old Belvedere problems right up to the final whistle.
“We weren’t at our best but credit to Dolphin, they made it very hard. The good aspect was that we stayed patient after going 10 points down and showed character.” stressed Cunningham.
What of the possibility of Riordan and their highly rated backrow Jack Conan being able to return for the Garryowen game?
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed, we’ll just have to wait and see what develops.”
Old Belvedere: J Glynn; A Wynne, J Kennedy, S Berne, P O’Dwyer; S Crosbie, A Sheehan; P O’Regan, K McDonald, D Lavery, D Moore, J Eden-Whatiri, J Slattery (Capt), K O’Gorman, L Auva’a.
Replacements: A Trenier, A Howard, K O’Neill, F Lawlor, P Robb.
Dolphin: E Millls; E O’Shaughnessy, J Gleeson, C Bohane, A O’Leary; R Scannell, C Bannon; B Scott, N Scannell, C Condon (Capt), C Rowe, R O’Herlihy, M Cronin, J Vaughan, R Murphy.
Replacements: W Foley, D O’Shea, S McKeown, D Attridge.
Referee: D Wilkinson.