Blackrock go top with Garryowen win

 

AIL Round-Up:After crossing for six tries to demolish Garryowen (48-14) at Stradbrook yesterday and move top of the AIB League Division One A League, Blackrock College are entitled to feel pretty good about themselves.

Sensibly though, coaches Emmet Farrell and Barry Gibney have no intention of getting carried away. A couple of matches in and Blackrock are exactly where they want to be, with only themselves, St Mary’s College and Dolphin having won their first two games in what is already proving a highly competitive and entertaining league.

“That’s great so far as it goes, but we only have to look back on the events of last season to know how things can change,” said Farrell. “I seem to remember that we also got away to a great start, but eventually missed out on the play-offs.

“Shannon and Clontarf bounced back to contest the final after some early setbacks. This season’s league is even more competitive with the new set-up, so we definitely won’t be getting ahead of ourselves.”

That said, there’s a lot to admire about this young and very talented Blackrock outfit. No doubt, the two members of the the Leinster management team, Chris Whittaker and Guy Easterby who watched the action at Stradbrook, felt the same way.

Blackrock, containing five Leinster Academy backs and one forward, have a lot going for them. Three of last March’s Leinster Schools Senior Cup winning side, Brendan Macken, Andrew Conway and Jordi Murphy were among their try scorers.

Number eight Michael Carroll provided the openings for Macken and substitute Murphy to go over, while the highly rated Conway, featuring on the left-wing, showed his pace and finishing power to cross for Blackrock’s final try in an outstanding team performance.

It was, Farrell pointed out, a significant step up from the opening hard earned away success over UL Bohemians. At the same time, the coach, quite rightly, admitted that the real test for his team will come when the conditions get more difficult.

Crucially, Garryowen had their Ireland under-20 scrumhalf Conor Murray sent to the sin-bin at a stage when they just might just have been thinking of a comeback. After trailing 24-6, they had reduced the deficit to 27-14 when Murray was yellow carded midway through the second half.

Blackrock took full advantage to score two converted tries and end the game as a contest. It was a pity for Murray as he was comfortably Garryowen’s best player, his battle with Blackrock’s equally impressive scrum-half Dave Moore being one of the highlights of the afternoon.

Earlier, Moore had sprinted in from 30 metres to score his team’s first try. Hooker Cian Culleton and centre Kyle Tonnetti soon added two more, while out-half James Power contributed a drop goal and three conversions to give Blackrock their 24-6 advantage.

Garryowen then enjoyed their best period of the game, a well taken try from centre right Ronan O’Mahony right on half time, providing them with a much needed boost. With Murray, who contributed three penalties, on the field they remained competitive, but once he had gone to the sin-bin, Garryowen were overrun.

Blackrock, now in full flow, ran in a fourth try through Macken for the bonus point, before Murphy and Conway got their names on the scoresheet. The accurate Power completed an excellent day’s work with all three conversions to add to the penalty he kicked earlier in the half.

Elsewhere there was more evidence that this is going to be far from a straightforward Division One A campaign as last season’s finalists Shannon and Clontarf both lost for a second time.

Neither could many have predicted that Dolphin would be up there as the leading Munster club following two victories. They currently lie in third position, trailing Blackrock and St Mary’s by just a point, after upsetting Clontarf 27-19 at Castle Avenue.

Remarkably, Dolphin overcame a 19-3 half-time deficit. With two contracted Munster players Nick Williams and James Coughlan in their back-row, along with the highly rated Barry O’Mahony, Dolphin clearly should not be underestimated.

Even so, Clontarf must have been stunned to finish without so much as a losing bonus point. Outhalf Barry Keeshan contributed a try, conversion and five penalties for Dolphin, with O’Mahony adding a late try.

St Mary’s added to Shannon’s problems by beating them 12-7 at Thomond Park. Mossie Lawlor scored the only try of the game to put Shannon 7-3 in front but three penalties from Gavin Dunne, and a drop goal by Shaun McCarthy, gave St Mary’s victory.

So, the holders have to satisfy themselves with two losing points from their opening two games. Cork Constitution bounced back from their defeat at the hands of Dolphin by accounting for UL Bohemians at Temple Hill.

First half tries from Darragh Lyons and Richie Lane proved decisive. In Division One B, Old Belvedere lead the way after trouncing Buccaneers 36-12 at Dubarry Park.

Leinster centre Fergus McFadden made a big contribution with a try, four conversions and a penalty, while Dave Mongan crossed for two tries. Elsewhere, Ballymena defeated UCC 31-28 at the Mardyke, Ballynahinch edged past Galwegians 25-24 at home, and Dungannon accounted for Young Munster 14-8 at Stevenson Park.

Results

Division 1A
Blackrock 48-14 Garryowen
Clontarf 19-27 Dolphin
Cork Con 16-3 UL Bohemians
Shannon 7-12 St Mary's

Division 1B
Ballynahinch 25-24 Galwegians
Buccaneers 12-36 Old Belvedere
Dungannon 15-8 Young Munster
UCC 28-31 Ballymena

Division 2
Bective 25-24 Old Crescent
Bruff 13-54 Lansdowne
Clonakilty 12-15 Belfast Harlequins
DLSP 25-19 Malone
Greystones 9-47 UCD
Highfield 17-27 Old Wesley
Terenure 19-24 Corinthians
Thomond 26-20 Dublin University

Division 3
Banbridge 15-20 Instonians
Barnhall 29-23 Rainey
Connemara 15-3 Ards
Midleton 25-19 Queen's University
Navan 31-8 Naas
Portadown 18-12 Nenagh Ormond
Sundays Well 16-26 Wanderers
Suttonians 14-11 Co Carlow