Talented Clontarf hit new heights
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Clontarf's early season form suggests last season's semi-final appearance may be a minimum requirement of the current team. Coach Phil Werahiko watched his side easily dismiss the Lansdowne challenge 34-11 at Castle Avenue and in doing so move to the top of Division One.
The north Dublin club led 8-3 at the interval, a penalty from Darragh O'Shea pre-empting hooker Bernard Jackman's fifth try of the season. Flanker Alan Dignam crossed for a try, O'Shea tagged on a conversion to scrumhalf Ronan O'Reilly's try to move the home side into a 20-3 lead.
They then set about grabbing a bonus point, a task duly completed when outstanding centre James Downey and wing Ollie Winchester crossed for the third and fourth tries.
Hooker Jackman, who spent a few seasons at Sale, in between his stints at Clontarf enthused: "There's some great talent here. It's a totally different team to when I left."
Lansdowne were limited to a brace of penalties from Matthew Leek and a try by John Smyth.
Ballymena continued their impressive campaign with a first ever away victory over Dungannon in the league. Ballymena coach Tony D'Arcy couldn't hide his smile as his side triumphed 13-12 in a close encounter at Stevenson Park. "It is not often that we win in Dungannon but after such a close match it was especially sweet."
Dungannon led 12-7 at the break with tries from Seamus Mallon and Aidan Kearney but the visitors responded with a try by Derek Topping and two penalties and a conversion from Matt Waterhouse. Champions Shannon produced an excellent final quarter to oust Cork Constitution at Thomond Park 21-15.
Tries by the Buckleys, Tony and Brian, paved the way for Shannon's success, with Andrew Thompson adding the rest. All of Con's points came from scrumhalf Pat McCarthy with four penalties and a drop goal.
Belfast Harlequins thumped UCD 52-29, running in eight tries in the process; three for Johnny Lowe and two apiece for Chris McCarey and Roger Wilson (there was also a penalty try). The Students did grab a bonus point for scoring four tries, two coming from full back Darren McKenna.
Finally, St Mary's returned to winning ways with a 22-10 victory over Carlow at Oak Park, Conor McPhillips grabbing a brace of tries.