Wily Alex gets Clontarf going
It has been said rather colourfully of Clontarf coach Alex Wyllie that he likes to prepare his players on a diet of barbed wire and raw meat. The New Zealander saw far greater merit in cool pragmatism, however, as he attempted to lift his side from a crushing defeat by Terenure in the Leinster Cup final last week.
The efficacy of Wylie's approach was seen to excellent effect in this Division One triumph in ideal conditions at Castle Avenue.
"After studying a video of the Leinster Cup final, I concluded that we simply couldn't repeat the terrible mistakes of that game," said Wylie, who treated the 31point thrashing by Terenure as an aberration. So he kept faith with no fewer than 11 of that side - and was richly rewarded.
Significantly, scrum-half Gary Kavanagh was not in the Cup final line-up. He formed a most effective half-back partnership with Richie Murphy and delivered the bonus of Clontarf's most important try.
This came in the 16th minute, by which time the teams had exchanged penalties. More importantly, Clontarf had displayed excellent defensive qualities in resisting a spirited, early onslaught by the Buccaneers pack. As ruck followed close ruck to no avail, the visitors must have been somewhat dismayed by the fortitude of their opponents.
Just as they were coping with this blow to morale, Kavanagh picked up in a ruck just inside the Buccaneers 10-yard line. From there, he sprinted for the line, delighted, no doubt, to be encountering virtually no opposition. The converted try gave Clontarf the self-belief to put behind them the horror of the previous week.
The importance of the first 20 minutes couldn't be over-stated as a priceless boost to Clontarf's confidence. And they needed it when Buccaneers fought back with two tries, neither of which out-half Eamonn Molloy succeeded in converting.
It meant Clontarf's deficit was a manageable 11-13 when number eight and skipper Bobby Baggott went over for a 35th minute try, following a line-out deep inside their opponents' territory. Though Murphy, who kicked 17 points, failed with the conversion, the score was sufficient to give them a half-time lead they never relinquished.
Scoring sequence: 6 mins: E Molloy pen 0-3; 8: R Murphy pen 3-3; 13: G Kanavagh try 8-3; 20: Murphy pen goal 11-3; 30: J McVeigh try 11-8; 33: M Walker try 11-13; 35: B Baggott try 16-13; 47: Murphy pen 19-13; 50: Murphy pen 22-13; 60: O Winchester try, Murphy con 29-13; 68: Murphy pen 32-13; 75: N O'Brien try 32-18.
Clontarf: K Nowlan; A Reddan, D McElligott, D O'Brien, O Winchester; R Murphy, G Kavanagh; A Clarke, T Kearns, P McQuillan, D Sheehan, B Gissing, D Quinn, B Baggott, P Lynn. Replacements: T Foucher for Clarke (73 mins), R O'Reilly for Nowlan (75).
Buccaneers: N O'Brien; D Yapp, G Austin, P Whittaker, M Walker; E Molloy, C Keane; J Screene, V McVeigh, M Cahill, C Rigney, K Barrett, I Dillon, C Brownlie, E Brennan. Replace- ments: K Bates for Molloy (47), T Robinson for Yapp (60), T Duignan for Screene (65).
Referee: B Smith (Ulster).