Sin-binning allows Clontarf press home their advantage


RUGBY ULSTER BANK DIVISION 1A:THE BATTLE for the Ulster Bank Division 1A title has become a three-horse race following Clontarf’s hard-fought success over Cork Constitution at Castle Avenue on Saturday.

Any chance Cork Constitution had of making a late run disappeared with this defeat. Clontarf, St Mary’s College and Young Munster will now fight it out for the top honours in what promises to be an exciting climax to the season.

Clontarf will be just relieved to have survived a really difficult afternoon. At half-time they looked in some trouble; they were level at 3-3, despite having played with the advantage of a strong wind, and Cork Con looked the more composed outfit.

The visitors led 3-0 with a penalty from scrumhalf Gerry Hurley before former Cork Con man Richie Lane landed an equalising penalty just before the break. But Clontarf were a much improved outfit playing into the wind, retaining possession much better.

The decisive moment came when Cork Con secondrow Brian Hayes was sin binned 15 minutes into the second half. During his absence, Con found themselves under severe pressure in the scrum close to their own line and referee Peter Fitzgibbon quickly awarded a penalty try.

Lane’s conversion gave Clontarf a 10-3 advantage but Cork Con battled back, Hurley landing two penalties to reduce the deficit to 10-9.

“We made life difficult for ourselves with our first-half performance. Thankfully, we were a lot more accurate after the break,” said Clontarf coach Andy Wood.

CLONTARF:R Lane; M McGrath, K Lett, C O’Shea, T McCoy; E Ryan, S Cronin; B Barclay, A Dundon, N Treston, B Reilly, J Chipman, S Crawford, B O’Mahony (Capt), F Cogan. Replacements: A D’Arcy, D O’Meara, N Reid.

CORK CONSTITUTION:S Scanlon; C Quinn, D Lyons, I Dineen, R Clune; J Holland, G Hurley; B Cagney, A Cudmore, C Corkery, B Hayes (Capt), P Donnellan, J McSwiney, B O’Hara, J Ryan. Replacements: B Cutriss, M Gatley.

Referee: P Fitzgibbon.