Lansdowne one win away from home semi-final


All-Ireland League First Division: St Mary's - 27 Lansdowne - 36  Lansdowne are five points away from securing a home draw for the semi-finals of the All-Ireland League despite some resistance from Brent Pope's men at Templeville Road on Saturday.

Their win, with the bonus point in tow, moved them above Ballymena in the table and maximum points against Galwegians in their final game next weekend would be enough to secure second place.

Having registered 14 points without reply inside the opening 10 minutes, Lansdowne must have thought that they were already home and dry. The St Mary's defence was less than assured in that stage, with spilt ball allowing Lansdowne and Leinster panellist Liam Toland to kick ahead before touching down in the corner after five minutes. Matthew Leek, their outhalf, converted and was called into action two minutes later after Toland's back row partner, Jim O'Donovan had slipped a tackle to score under the posts.

Lansdowne, however, dropped a bit off the pace after that allowing St Mary's to post nine points through full back Barry Lynn.

And then an incredible mix-up by Lansdowne allowed John McWeeney to steal clear of the cover to race unopposed to the line on 22 minutes. Lynn converted to put St Mary's ahead for the first time, and although another successful effort from Leek handed Lansdowne the lead, St Mary's response was quick: Lynn added a penalty on half time to leave it 19-17 to the home side.

But Lansdowne were soon back in business when O'Donovan went over for his second try on 45 minutes after McWeeney had originally prevented a try in the corner. Leek converted, but Lynn again gave St Mary's hope shortly after with a penalty to keep the home side within striking distance.

But that was the sum of St Mary's' efforts, with Lansdowne finally pulling away with back to back tries before the hour from first Steven O'Connor and then Enda Bohan on the hour to leave it 36-22.

St Mary's were afforded a consolation score on the final whistle when, after good work by Connor McPhillps, Graham Ingles made the touchdown.

ST MARY'S COLLEGE: B Lynn; C McPhillips, M McHugh, G Gannon, J McWeeney; N Spooner, E McCormack; B Moran, M Duggan, D Clare, P Kelly, J Ryan, E Keane, K O'Brien, J Ellis. Replacements: C O'Byrne for Moran (half-time), G Logan for Keane (54 mins), B McCormack for Ryan (71 mins), J Ingles for O'Brien (75 mins).

LANSDOWNE: B Doherty; F Baynes, A Magro, K Kennedy, J Smith; M Leek, S Whelan; E Bohan, R Fallon, A McKeen, S O'Connor, B Cusack, J O'Donovan, L Toland, S Rooney. Replacements: J Lynn for McKeen (60 mins), R Bolger for Toland (70 mins).

Referee: P Eakin (Ulster).