Lansdowne turn it on in final moments

 

Terenure huffed and puffed for 72 minutes in the Kitty O'Shea Leinster Championship final at Donnybrook yesterday. Then Lansdowne blew the house down in the final eight.

Heading for what looked like their third straight defeat in this competition after losing to Terenure and St Mary's in previous years, Lansdowne rarely threatened to seize control yesterday but when they finally did, they throttled their opponents.

It was quite astonishing how Terenure's collapse came about. Having dominated possession and territory, their main gripe would have been that they didn't have the scores to account for their generally sharper, more inventive play - although Ray Niland's try just after half-time for Lansdowne was a gem of opportunism.

Lansdowne kept their heads, defended courageously, despite having lost Kurt McQuilkin who normally controls the tempo in the three-quarter line, and eventually scored three tries in the final beats of the game, two of them as good as you will see. Not an attractive match, it lurched from whistle to set-piece and only came to life in brief flurries out of which the two best scores came. But they alone could not sustain whole-hearted enthusiasm, although Lansdowne's blossom at the end was a welcome jolt of energy and execution.

The winners' fatal strike came in the 72nd minute when centre Brian Glennon put his chin in the air inside his own half and galloped 50 metres unmolested. Lansdowne's two final scores were window dressing.

With Terenure leading 13-10 and just eight minutes of normal time on the clock, Richard Governey manufactured the cheeky break from the heart of his defence to give Glennon the space as Terenure pressed for the match-winning try. A little chip and gather were perfectly executed before he sent Glennon off on the glorious solo. Terenure's only hope then was that Glennon's hamstring might give. It didn't.

The first half took Terenure to a deserved 10-3 lead after full-back Rory Kearns's nicely curled kick had given Lansdowne an early lead. Peter Walsh replied nine minutes later before open-side Brendan Kavanagh went over in the corner, decorated with the Lansdowne defence, for Terenure's only try.

Niland levelled in the 42nd minute when the ball spilled from a tackle as Terenure were running out of defence. The winger's nifty little kick on the hoof and subsequent pace up the wing brought him to the touch-down fractionally before the covering Ciaran Clarke.

The sides remained locked 1010 for the next 20 minutes before Walsh turned in a penalty from the left to give Terenure three points of breathing space. Then it all fell around them. Glennon bolted away in the 72nd minute and right wing Marcus Dillon darted in four minutes later. This was one of Lansdowne's best moves as they threaded the ball left to right with Kearns coming in for the extra man.

In injury time, replacement Enda Bohan capped it all. As a squadron of players drove over on the right corner, Bohan emerged with the biggest smile. The try was his.

As man of the match, Kearns completed his fifth successful kick and the referee blew with Lansdowne finally claiming the trophy after their third attempt.

Scoring Sequence: 21 mins: R Kearns penalty, 3-0; 30: P Walsh penalty, 3-3; 41: B Kavanagh try, P Walsh conversion, 3-10. 42: R Niland try, R Kearns conversion, 10-10; 62: P Walsh penalty, 10-13; 72: B Glennon try, R Kearns conversion, 17-13; 76: M Dillon try, R Kearns conversion, 24-13; 81: E Bohan try, R Kearns conversion, 31-13.

Lansdowne: R Kearns; M Dillon, B Glennon, K McQuilkin capt, R Niland; R Governey, D O'Mahony; W O'Kelly, C Egan, A McKeen, W Aherne, P O'Connor, S Rooney, S Doyle, C McEntee. Replacements: E Bohan for O'Kelly (40 mins), W Clancy for McQuilkin (64 mins), B McKoy for Egan (64 mins), G Molloy for O'Connor (79 mins), A Freeman for Rooney (79 mins).

Terenure: C Clarke; G Dempsey, R Browne, M Smith, P Walsh; S Cullen, J Sherry; D Hyland, J Blaney, P Bruce, R Sheriff, P Holden, J Kelly capt, B Kavanagh, G Sheehan. Replacements: P Hennebry for Cullen (20 mins), D Hegarty for Sherry (62 mins).

Referee: G Maher (ARLB).

UCC have drawn the French University Sabatier in the semi-final of the European Students Championship. The match will be played in early January in Toulouse. The Cork students are the only Irish side into the final stages of the inaugural competition which involved Queens, Trinity and UCD in the pool phase last week.