Young Munster take over from Trinity at the top
Munster’s win over Mary’s sees them go top as Trinity beaten by Lansdowne
Eamon Mills of Lansdowne runs in for his side’s first try at Trinity. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Dublin University 14 Lansdowne 25
Dublin University’s spell at the top of Division 1A lasted just a week after Lansdowne consigned the high-flying students to a rare 25-14 defeat at College Park. Trinity, who led 11-3 during the first half, have fallen from the summit to fifth place in the top flight standings, with 2015 champions Lansdowne climbing to second on the back of Scott Deasy’s decisive 15-point kicking haul.
Paddy Finlay returned at hooker for the hosts in their only change from last week’s three-try victory at Garryowen, while Lansdowne - 33-31 winners over Clontarf in the last round - were missing their top try-scoring flanker Joe McSwiney following the sudden death of his father Joe senior on Wednesday. Tyrone Moran, Philip Donnellan and Paul Boyle came into their pack.
Following a minute’s silence to mark McSwiney’s passing, Trinity started strongly with winger Colm Hogan pressing for a try in the corner. Out-half Jack McDermott slotted over a subsequent penalty, which was quickly cancelled out by his opposite number Deasy.
McDermott restored the students’ lead before they conjured up the opening try, prop Andy ‘Panda’ Keating’s initial carry giving them momentum and some neat interplay between Tom Ryan, Jack Kelly and Bryan Mollen seeing full-back Kelly eventually cross. Deasy’s cultured right boot clawed back six points in swift fashion to reduce the arrears to 11-9, and with Trinity meekly coughing up possession after a fine defensive stand, Lansdowne worked full-back Eamonn Mills over for a try in the corner.
However, the home side levelled matters at 14-all for half-time, McDermott landing his third successful penalty and repeated infringements leading to Lansdowne tighthead and captain Ian Prendiville picking up a yellow card.
Despite a positive start on the resumption, the league leaders continued to give away cheap ball at times and Lansdowne needed no second invitation, centre and Ireland Sevens international John O’Donnell darting through for his third try of the campaign. After missing the conversion, the increasingly influential Deasy was back on target with a subsequent penalty. Mike Ruddock’s men seem to be hitting form at a crucial stage of the season, and a final penalty in the dying minutes from Deasy took the losing bonus point away from misfiring Trinity.
St Mary’s College 32 Young Munster 34
St Mary’s College strung together five second half tries but still fell just short of Young Munster in a stunning 66-point, nine-try contest at Tempeville Road. A first half brace from Munster centre Dan Goggin laid the foundations for the Cookies’ breathless 34-32 victory, a result which has sent Gearoid Prendergast’s charges right to the top of the table.
Sniping scrum half Rob Guerin’s 76th-minute try was just enough to get the visitors over the finish line, with Mary’s two-try centre Darren Moroney closing out the scoring in the dying seconds. Conor Hogan and Moroney were brought into the Mary’s back-line, with young out-half Conor Dean - the son of former international and incoming Ireland team manager Paul Dean - continuing to deputise for injured top scorer Sean Kearns.
Former captain Kevin Sheahan added steel to the hosts’ back row, while the Limerick men welcomed back Abrie Griesel, a PRO12 debutant for Munster on Friday night, and Tom Goggin into their starting line-up.
Eager to build on last week’s bonus point success against UCD, free-scoring Munsters were over the whitewash inside five minutes as the talismanic Goggin powered over from close range. Full-back David O’Mahony converted and added a 10th minute penalty. Dean answered back with a well-struck kick, three minutes later, but the Cookies were clinical with ball in hand, Goggin breaking through again in the 24th minute and young number 8 Gavin Coombes, a recent Munster Academy recruit, adding try number three before the interval.
Mary’s head coach Jamie Cornett’s half-time words had the desired effect, though, as they began to eat into the 24-3 deficit. Quick-fire tries from pacy backs Ryan O’Loughlin (48 minutes) and Terry Kennedy (51) had them back within nine points.
Munsters replied with a penalty through impressive place-kicker O’Mahony, but it really was anyone’s contest after Dean converted Moroney’s first touchdown of the afternoon and the equally elusive David Fanagan, who switched from full-back to wing this week, flew in for the levelling 70th minute try. Mary’s now had the bonus point and enough momentum to kick on from 27-all.
It was Munsters, however, who struck for a vital try from replacement Guerin six minutes later and although resilient Mary’s opened up the visitors’ brittle defence again through Moroney, Dean’s missed conversion allowed the Cookies to cling on.
Elsewhere, Cork Constitution swept clear of Division 1A’s bottom side Terenure College in the second half to register a 31-15 win at Temple Hill. Constitution won for the third time in as many games, claiming their first try-scoring bonus point of the campaign thanks to a late breakaway score from captain Niall Kenneally.
At Belfield, Ireland Under-20 captain James Ryan had a starring role in UCD’s hard-earned 23-16 success at home to a durable Garryowen side. Ryan’s second half try helped the students end their three-match losing streak in the Ulster Bank League, with captain Jamie Glynn and teenage centre Tommy O’Brien also touching down.
And Clontarf’s Ulster Bank League title defence took another dent when Old Belvedere came from behind to beat their Dublin rivals 20-13 at Castle Avenue on Friday night. Belvedere moved back up to third place in Division 1A as 15 points from the boot of out-half Steve Crosbie steered Paul Cunningham’s men to a hard-earned victory. Winger Simon Killeen’s second half try was also crucial.