Terenure College 15 Cork Constitution 22
Defending champions Cork Constitution dug deep to defeat semi-final opponents Terenure College 22-15 at Lakelands Park and book their place in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A decider against Lansdowne next Sunday afternoon.
With classy outhalf Tomás Quinlan notching an impressive tally of 17 points, Brian Hickey's charges overcame the stubborn challenge of an ambitious Terenure side. Tries in each half by Robbie Carroll and Jake Swaine kept theDublin side in the reckoning, but thanks to key scores from Quinlan and replacement Evan Mintern either side of the interval, it was Con who prevailed.
Following a late tackle on number eight Luke Cahill on 15 minutes, Constitution broke the deadlock with a routine penalty from Quinlan. While this was an early setback for 'Nure, James Blaney's men turned the game on its head with a superb try from centre Carroll, who used a lovely step to go over in the corner just past the first quarter.
Although Mark O’Neill’s touchline conversion was wide of the mark, the hosts were now hoping to build momentum for the remainder of the half. However, thanks to a six-point salvo by the reliable Quinlan, Con took a 9-5 cushion into the second period.
After O’Neill cancelled out another Quinlan three-pointer after the restart, Munster prospect Mintern entered the fray to put the Leesiders firmly in the driving seat. When scrum possession on the left was switched towards the far wing, the powerful backrower was in the right place to drive over the line.
Quinlan, Con’s 20-point from last year’s league final, converted his fifth penalty of the game in the 71st minute, giving the visitors a 22-8 buffer. Terenure were not prepared to go down without a fight, however, and winger Swaine was picked out for a simple finish in the right corner.
O’Neill added the extras to bring the deficit down to seven points, but despite losing prop Ger Sweeney to the sin-bin, Constitution held firm to set up an Aviva Stadium rematch with Lansdowne who beat them 32-12 in last Saturday’s Bateman Cup final at Temple Hill.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Matthew Byrne; Jake Swaine, Marc Hiney, Robbie Carroll, Sam Coghlan Murray; Mark O'Neill, Tim Schmidt; Cian Madden, Robbie Smyth, Oisin Heffernan; Michael Melia, Alex Thompson; Cathal Deans, Robert Duke, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Adam Clarkin, Schalk Jooste, Niall Lalor, Paddy Thornton, Kevin O'Neill, Kaleikumaka Konrad, James O'Donoghue.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O'Connell; JJ O'Neill, Alex McHenry, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Tomás Quinlan, Gerry Hurley; Brendan Quinlan, Vincent O'Brien, Ger Sweeney; Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes; Joe McSwiney, Ross O'Neill, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Jack McHenry, Dylan Murphy, Gavin Duffy, Greg Higgins, Jason Higgins, Seán Duffy, Evan Mintern.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)