Cork Con cruise past Trinity to book place in AIL final
Brian Hickey’s table-toppers will face Clontard in Lansdowne Road final next weekend
Cork Constitution’s Sean French scores the first try of the game during the AIL semi-final win over Trinity. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Cork Constitution 23 Dublin University 3
Ireland Under-20 starlet Sean French’s timely try on the stroke of half-time helped to catapult Cork Constitution to a 23-3 semi-final win over Trinity at Temple Hill.
Brian Hickey’s table-toppers will contest Con’s fourth successive league final, clashing with Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium next Sunday (kick-off 3pm) in a repeat of the 2017 decider which they won 25-21.
Trinity had a busy build-up to their historic semi-final appearance, with their Under-20s retaining the Fraser McMullen Cup last weekend and 14 members of today’s senior matchday squad taking exams yesterday before boarding the bus for Cork. They had high hopes of putting it up to Constitution, having defeated them 37-13 at College Park last month when the league leaders were down a few bodies.
A breathless first quarter produced only one score, a well-struck 18th-minute penalty from the students’ out-half Micheal O’Kennedy who rifled over from the edge of the 22. His opposite number Aidan Moynihan levelled with his first place-kick of the afternoon in the 27th minute, and then added a second for a hard-earned lead.
Hickey’s charges struck a big blow in the first half’s final play to go 13-3 in front. Profiting from a turnover on the Trinity 10-metre line, Grand Slam winner French was fed on the right wing by Shane Daly’s looping pass and he jinked past O’Kennedy, collected his own kick on the bounce and weaved in past James Hickey to score a classy solo try. Moynihan’s conversion opened up a 10-point buffer.
Tony Smeeth’s youngsters fell further behind courtesy of Moynihan’s third penalty success, just two minutes after the restart. A critical period came during the third quarter when Con had a one-man advantage due to Trinity number 8 Niall O’Riordan’s sin-binning for a no-arms tackle.
Credit to the 14-man students, they managed to create their best opportunity as captain Colm Hogan embarked on a thrilling run through the middle. It led to a penalty deep inside the Con 22, but usually-reliable hooker Dan Sheehan could not connect with his jumper at the lineout and Con’s ambition was evident in the manner of their counter attack involving French.
Con’s progression through to the final was underpinned by a powerful defensive display which kept Trinity frustratingly on just three points. The outcome was decided on the hour mark when Munster’s Shane Daly dislodged possession from Philip Murphy with a man-and-ball tackle, allowing Rob Jermyn to dribble through and the onrushing Moynihan kicked ahead before winning the race to touch down. He converted to complete his handsome 18-point haul.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Sean French, Shane Daly, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Joe McSwiney, Kevin Sheahan, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Patrick Casey, Brendan Quinlan, James Murphy, Alex McHenry, Ross O’Neill, Duncan Williams, Jonathan Wren.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Colm Hogan (capt), James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Jack Kelly; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Aziz Naser, Bart Vermeulen, Arthur Greene, Conor Lowndes, James Fennelly, Rob Russell.
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU).