O'Meara to the fore in new role


Cork constitution couldn't have hoped for a better start to their league campaign than this 38-point hammering of Belfast Harlequins at Temple Hill. Even with the late withdrawal of outhalf Ronan O'Gara due to a hand injury, the Cork side were never too far from a score.

It was Leinster scrumhalf Brian O'Meara who took to his new role with particular effect. Kicking four penalties and three conversions, he also picked up one of his side's five tries that helped them claim a valuable bonus point. For once, O'Gara was hardly missed.

Leading 24-0 at half-time, Irish hooker Frank Sheahan had picked up the home side's first try on 25 minutes and O'Meara then claimed the second just before the break. He had also landed three penalties in the opening quarter.

Full back Brian Walsh also looked highly threatening when given the chance and Denis O'Dowd came close to adding a try before the first half ran out. Still, the one-way traffic never stalled and Conor Mahony soon increased the lead on the resumption. From then on it was only a matter of how much more Harlequins would concede.

Constitution then ensured the bonus point on 70 minutes when a most creative pass from Craig Taylor set up the chance for Ronan O'Donovan and he gladly obliged with the try. O'Meara converted yet again and the score stood at 36-0.

It didn't stop there. A fifth try from John Kelly increased the margin even further but thankfully for all involved, Harlequins never gave up. They were rewarded for their efforts with six minutes remaining when captain Gerard O'Loan finally broke through the stubborn Constitution defence .

Cork Constitution: B Walsh; D O'Dowd, R O'Donovan, J Kelly, D Dillon; C Mahony, B O'Meara; R McGrath, F Sheehan, J O'Driscoll, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, C Taylor, J Murray, U O'Callaghan. Replacements: P Soden for J O'Driscoll (64 mins), J Fogerty for Murray (73 mins), K Murphy for O'Callaghan (76 mins).

Belfast Harlequins: P Hancock; S Coulter, S Dick, B Dick, R Marrow; N Malone, A Matchett; S Best, R Weir, C Boyd, K Rabie, A Robinson, C Galway, N Best, G O'Loan. Replace- ments: G Jewhurst for Marrow (53 mins), D Irwin for Robinson (68 mins), C Bleachy for S Dick (73 mins), M Humphreys for Weir (77 mins).

Referee: D Courtney (Leinster).