Constitution rule the roost over Young Munster


AS RUGBY in Ireland faces up to new challenges and demands, it is no surprise that Limerick finds itself in the eye of whatever storm is blowing. On the evidence of Saturday's important All-Ireland League match at Tom Clifford Park, it may be that Cork could also be crucially involved as their youthful team struggled at first and then took complete control to run in vital tries to beat Young Munster by a margin of two goals, a try and two penalties to three penalties (16 points).

Young Munster may feel that the absence of Michael O'Halloran and Ger EarIs through injury robbed them of the type of stability they needed in the pack but their deputies, Derek Mullane and Anthony Herlihy, did not let the side down.

It was Constitution's domination of the line-out and the neatness of the work of Ronan O'Gara and Brian O'Meara behind the scrum which always left Young Munster at a disadvantage. This pair constantly made good use of their possession from the set pieces to set their three-quarters moving.

Of particular benefit to Constitution was the work of Aaron Verling and Derek Mullane in the pack. With Kenny Murphy and Ultan O'Callaghan also in lively mood, Young Munster were always playing second fiddle.

O'Gara put Constitution ahead with a penalty after four minutes and Aidan O'Halloran equalised a quarter of an hour later. But it was some slack Young Munster defence after 26 minutes which saw a slick Constitution move bear fruit with Anthony Horgan beating Peter Boland's last-ditch tackle for a try. O'Gara failed to convert.

Nevertheless, Young Munster were ahead by a point at halftime by virtue of two further successful penalty shots by O'Halloran.

With the considerable wind behind them in the second-half, Young Munster were expected to raise their game but it was the Cork side which gained in confidence. A superb bout of handling] by Constitution forwards brought them deep into Young Munster territory and wing forward Jerry Murray made the best of a fine] pass to dive over. O'Gara's conversion brought the score to 15-9.

Four minutes later, Constitution came surging back, Anthony Horgan going over the line from a fine pass from O'Meara. O'Gara converted and then had the last word with an9ther penalty five minutes from time.

Last word may be misleading in this context because just before the end, after some heated exchanges as Young Munster sought a consolation try, O'Gara was "coursed" across the pitch by Des Clohessy for 50 yards. Fortunately, Clohessy never got near enough to his elusive quarry to cause anything but laughter from the crowd of 3,000.

Two of Constitution's former internationals, Ralph Keyes and Donal Lenihan, both expressed satisfaction with the result. Keyes felt that Constitution had allowed themselves to be "drawn into a war of attrition" before opting to play their own type of game in the second-half. "When we moved the ball across the field, we were able to stretch them and the tries came and that was the difference between the teams."

Lenihan, wearing his Constitution hat, was pleased that "a young team was beginning to find its feet. A very good second-half display".