Adam Leavy double keeps Lansdowne on course for double
Mike Ruddock’s side pull away from Garryowen in second half at the Aviva Stadium
Lansdowne’s Adam Leavy scores a try despite the attepted tackle of Jamie Gavin of Garryowen during the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Lansdowne 36 Garryowen 19
Lansdowne’s potent mix of pace and power saw them progress to their first Ulster Bank League final since 2015, following a 36-19 semi-final over Garryowen at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Jet-heeled winger Adam Leavy started and finished the try-scoring, bagging a well-taken brace on the same pitch that his older brother Dan has starred on for Leinster and Ireland this season.
Table toppers at the end of league phase and boosted by last week’s Bateman Cup title win, Lansdowne outscored the Light Blues by five tries to one. The Limerick men deserved to be closer given their collective efforts, but brothers Neil and Liam Cronin combined for their only points, including the latter’s 75th-minute try.
Mike Ruddock’s side fell behind to an 11th minute penalty from Garryowen captain Neil Cronin, who rewarded a well-timed scrum from his forwards. Early in the second quarter, Leavy replied with a try in the left corner, evading the clutches of the covering Jamie Gavin.
Scott Deasy and Cronin traded penalties as it remained nip and tuck up to half-time, Lansdowne holding onto a slender 8-6 lead. However, just like last Saturday’s Bateman Cup decider against Cork Constitution, the headquarters club moved clear in the third quarter.
Scrumhalf Alan Bennie sniped over for a crucial try, getting the ball down despite the best efforts of Liam Coombes. The visitors failed to panic, Bennie’s opposite number Cronin cutting gap to 15-12 after Lansdowne were penalised in the scrum again and then for a high tackle.
The hosts turned to their well-drilled pack, which included fit-again skipper Ian Prenderville and Leinster’s Peter Dooley off the bench, to widen the margin. They won a 56th-minute penalty try after Garryowen were guilty of collapsing a maul, and hard-working hooker Tyrone Moran deservedly added a fourth try soon after.
Fresh legs off the bench inspired a late Garryowen revival, with replacement hooker Liam Cronin muscling over to reduce the arrears to 29-19, but a turnover in injury-time allowed Connacht Academy youngster Leavy to have the final say as Lansdowne moved within 80 minutes of a famous All-Ireland League and Cup double.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Foster Horan, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Martin Mulhall, Tyrone, Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt); Josh O’Rourke, Jack Dwan; Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Earle.
Replacements: James Rael, Peter Dooley, Greg McGrath, Barry Fitzpatrick, Charlie Rock, Ian Fitzpatrick, Mark O’Keeffe.
GARRYOWEN: Andrew O’Byrne; Liam Coombes, David Johnston, David McCarthy, Bryan Fitzgerald; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Diarmuid Barron, Andy Keating; Seán O’Connor, Dean Moore; Tim Ferguson, Jack Daly, Darren Ryan.
Replacements: Liam Cronin, Ben Rowley, Seán Rennison, Mikey Wilson, Paul Clancy, JP Phelan, Bailey Faloon.
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)