Lansdowne reach final
LANSDOWNE ended the year at Sydney Parade on Sunday in a fashion that suggests the club can win the Leinster Senior League title early in the new year.
A victory by 17 points to nine over Monkstown in this cup semifinal did not do justice to the merit of Monkstown's challenge, but it earned Lansdowne a place in the final where they will meet Terenure College in a fortnight's time in the Kitty O'Shea's sponsored competition.
While the surface was heavy, to their credit the sides also produced a worthy contest with the issue in the balance until a few minutes from the end.
While Monkstown struggled for the greater part in the set pieces, their tenacity in the loose and their excellent tackling allowed Lansdowne little latitude. Indeed, with 19 minutes remaining, Monkstown went into the lead when outside half Andrew McMaster kicked the third of his three penalty goals to give his side a 9-8 lead.
But a needlessly conceded penalty at a serum in which they had the ball in front of their own posts gave Lansdowne scrum half, Fergus Aherne, the opportunity to kick the goal and put his side back in front by two points in the 64th minute.
Aherne kicked another penalty in the 77th minute to leave Lansdowne a more comfortable five points clear and then, in injury time, Brian Glennon kicked a good goal from the left hand touchline to put a flattering eight points between the sides.
Lansdowne had wind advantage and more set piece possession in the initial period, but Monkstown defended tenaciously. Paul O'Connor and Shane Leahy gave Lansdowne the edge in the line out and Lansdowne also had the more steady serum.
However, a five-point interval lead was all they could achieve. Aherne, kicked a penalty in the 17th minute but McMaster equalised in the 21st before the only try of the match came after a serum and line out in the 35th minute with Colm McEntee forcing his way over the Monkstown line.
When McMaster kicked a penalty in the 50th minute, only two points separated the sides. Monkstown wing Paul Ryan had just previously been tackled on the line after a fine movement and then Lansdowne's international left wing Darragh O'Mahony, in his comeback match after injury, brought off a try saving tackle on John Cannon. But Monkstown went ahead when McMaster kicked that 61st minute penalty from 45 yards.
With Ian Bloomer having cut out Lansdowne's lineout supremacy, a win for the third division side was more than a remote possibility. However, once Lansdowne regained the lead with Aherne's 64th minute penalty, they also regained the upper hand.