Clontarf to meet Cork Constitution in Ulster Bank League decider

Dublin side will be looking to win second title in three years at Aviva Stadium

Clontarf’s Mick McGrath stretches to score a try during the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final against UCD at  Castle Avenue. Photograph:  Gary Carr/Inpho

Clontarf’s Mick McGrath stretches to score a try during the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final against UCD at Castle Avenue. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

 

Clontarf 24 UCD 10

Division 1A table toppers Clontarf ran in four tries to see off the semi-final challenge of UCD at Castle Avenue and move a step closer to their second Ulster Bank League crown in three years.

Beaten finalists last season, ’Tarf look well placed to go one better when they meet Cork Constitution at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, May 8th, and they were helped on their way this afternoon by early tries from Leinster-capped duo Bryan Byrne and Mick McGrath.

Playing on the all-weather surface at Castle Avenue, the north Dubliners broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when hooker Byrne barged his way over to finish off a strong spell of carrying from the home forwards. The backs followed suit three minutes later, fast-breaking outhalf Joey Carbery launching a sublime move that ended with McGrath going over in the left corner for his 14th try of the campaign.

Both of the scores were unconverted, though, and UCD were within a converted try by half-time, trailing 10-3 after outhalf Ross Byrne was successful with the first of two penalty attempts. The students did stretch the home defence, missing out on a try due to a forward pass from Barry Daly and they also failed to turn two late breaks from winger Daly and prop Andrew Porter into points.

However, approaching the hour mark, ’Tarf grabbed their third try when powerful flanker Michael Noone held off a number of challenges to score on the right. The excellent Carbery added the extras to make it 17-3.

The margin was back down to seven points after Daly touched down with 16 minutes remaining, profiting from some exceptional approach work by captain Emmet MacMahon. Byrne’s impressive conversion from out wide kept Noel McNamara’s youngsters in the hunt.

But, despite losing openside Karl Moran to the sin-bin, ’Tarf maintained their lead. UCD turned down two kickable shots as Byrne went for touch instead, and the well-organised home defence eventually stood firm. ’Tarf replacement Evan Ryan, himself a former league-winning captain with Cork Con, sealed the visitors’ fate when racing in under the posts in injury-time.

CLONTARF: Rob Keogh; Michael Brown, Conor O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Mick McGrath; Joey Carbery, Sam Cronin; Ivan Soroka, Bryan Byrne, Vakhtang Abdaladze; Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly (capt); Michael Noone, Karl Moran, Anthony Ryan.

UCD: Billy Dardis; Adam Byrne, Jamie Glynn, Bobby Holland, Barry Daly; Ross Byrne, Nick McCarthy; Andrew Porter, Sean McNulty, Jeremy Loughman; Greg Jones, Emmet MacMahon (capt); Will Connors, Dan Leavy, Peadar Timmins.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)

Cork Constitution 22 Young Munster 16

Cork Constitution will contest two All-Ireland senior finals in the coming weeks after a late brace of tries saw them edge out Young Munster 22-16 at Temple Hill.

Cork Con, who travel to Galwegians in next Saturday’s Bateman Cup final, booked their place in the League decider against Clontarf next month with a storming finish.

Centre Niall Kenneally’s sixth-minute try, in response to an earlier penalty from Gearoid Lyons, had Constitution leading the Cookies 7-3 at half-time.

But this error-strewn encounter turned in Young Munster’s favour as goal-kicking centre Lyons landed two more penalties and helped to set up a breakaway try for fullback Craig O’Hanlon.

Con were leading 10-9 but had hooker Max Abbott in the sin-bin when Ireland Sevens international Lyons burst clear from his 22 and made a full 60 metres. Munsters retained possession and managed to put O’Hanlon over in the corner, with Lyons’s crisp conversion making it 16-10 on the 70-minute mark.

However, the travelling support cruelly had to endure semi-final heartbreak for the second successive season as a combination of Constitution composure and Munsters indiscipline saw the hosts prevail.

With Seán Duggan already binned for collapsing a maul a few minutes earlier, Munsters went down to 13 men after a second straight scrum infringement and then a third such offence saw referee Gary Conway award an 80th-minute penalty try to Constitution.

Tomás Quinlan tapped over the conversion for a 17-16 scoreline and Brian Hickey’s men made certain of their final place with an injury-time try from powerful runner Kenneally, who followed up on an initial break from winger Aaron Spring.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Tomás Quinlan; Aaron Spring, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally, Rob Jermyn; Darragh Lyons, Ryan Foley; Gavin Duffy, Max Abbott, Rory Burke; Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan; Graeme Lawler, James Murphy, James Ryan (capt).

YOUNG MUNSTER: Craig O’Hanlon; Jack Harrington, Dan Goggin, Gearoid Lyons, Darragh O’Neill; Rob Guerin, Abrie Griesel; David Begley, Ger Slattery, Evan Ryan; Tom Goggin, Seán Duggan; Seán Rennison, Diarmaid Dee, Ben Kilkenny.

Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU).

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