Review and results of the opening weekend of the All Ireland League rugby division 1A
Buccaneers 10 Lansdowne 19, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Try: Conor McKeon; Con: Alan Gaughan; Drop: Luke Carty.
Lansdowne: Try: Charlie Rock; Con: Scott Deasy; Pens: Scott Deasy 4.
Buccaneers’ first game back in Ulster Bank League’s top flight after a 10-year absence ended in a 19-10 defeat to Lansdowne, last season’s table toppers.
It was a league debut at Dubarry Park for Buccs’ new coaching duo of Darin Claasen, who previously assisted the now Hong Kong-based Brett Wilkinson, and Mike McCarthy, the retired Leinster and Ireland lock.
The Pirates gave as good as they got in the first half, only trailing 3-0 to an 18th minute penalty from Lansdowne’s lynchpin out-half Scott Deasy. His opposite number Alan Gaughan missed two efforts in the difficult wet conditions.
Deasy doubled the visitors’ lead in the 51st minute before Jack Carty’s teenage brother Luke, a new addition to the Connacht Academy, hit back for Buccs with a well-taken drop goal.
The scores were now coming thick and fast, the sides swapping tries just before the hour mark as provincially-capped replacement scrum halves Charlie Rock and Conor McKeon touched down at either end. Today was Rock’s league debut for Lansdowne.
The gap remained at three points – 13-10 – until the pressure off the back of a Buccs yellow card led to Deasy landing his third penalty success. His fourth, coming from a 73rd-minute scrum penalty, sealed the hosts’ fate and gave Mike Ruddock’s men a winning start to their Division 1A campaign.
Cork Constitution 30 Clontarf 18, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Shane Daly, Rob Jermyn, Brendan Quinlan, Tomás Quinlan; Cons: Tomás Quinlan 2; Pens: Tomás Quinlan 2.
Clontarf: Tries: Matt D’Arcy, Vakh Abdaladze; Con: Matt D’Arcy; Pens: Conor Jennings 2.
Cork Constitution launched their Ulster Bank League title defence with an impressive 30-18 bonus point dismissal of Clontarf at Temple Hill.
In what was a repeat of last May’s final, which Constitution won 25-21 thanks to Tomas Quinlan’s pinpoint place-kicking, it was tries – four in all – which saw the hosts triumph.
Ireland Sevens squad member Shane Daly sliced open the Clontarf defence for a second minute try, converted by out-half Quinlan.
The north Dubliners, who have James Downey as their new backs coach, bounced back to lead 10-7 by the end of the first quarter, Conor Jennings kicking a penalty and his centre partner Matt D’Arcy nipping over for a try.
Quinlan levelled from the tee soon after, and tries from winger Rob Jermyn and Munster ‘A’ – capped prop Brendan Quinlan just before half-time opened up a slightly flattering 22-10 lead for Brian Hickey’s charges.
The second half was more defence-dominated with Quinlan and Jennings swapping penalties, before the former touched down in the corner after a speedy 60th-minute break from full-back Daly.
With their bonus point secured at 30-13, the Constitution side was content to protect what they had and see out the result. ’Tarf tighthead Vakh Abdaladze registered a late consolation try but there was no catching a buoyant Con side.
Dublin University 0 Terenure College 24, College Park
Scorers: Dublin University: –
Terenure College: Tries: Oisín Heffernan, Michael Melia, Sam Coghlan Murray, Stephen O’Neill; Con: Mark O’Neill 2.
Terenure College kicked off the new league season in style with an eye-catching 24-0 bonus point victory over Dublin University at College Park.
Trinity’s dramatic 27-25 win over the same opponents at the end of last term saved their Division 1A status, but Terenure exacted revenge today with unanswered tries from Oisín Heffernan, Michael Melia, Sam Coghlan Murray and Stephen O’Neill.
The students were up against it almost straight from the off, flanker Sam Pim seeing yellow for a tackle in the air in the third minute. Although they held out initially, the home defence gave when when Leinster-capped prop Heffernan powered over from a maul.
Out-half Mark O’Neill converted brilliantly from a tight angle in the tenth minute. Following Pim’s return, the Terenure pack continued to look dangerous deep in Trinity territory. Another drive towards the posts was finished off by lock Melia.
As the first half developed, heavy rainfall made life difficult for both sets of players and clear-cut opportunities were few and far between. Toby Boyd and out-half James Fennelly broke for Trinity to get them into scoring range, but the half ended with ’Nure still with a 12-point cushion.
Two of the visitors’ summer signings, front rowers Schalk Jooste (South Africa) and Giorgi Turabelidze (Portugal via Georgia), were having a noticeable impact. The latter was involved in a sweeping 57th-minute move which ended with winger Coghlan Murray scoring out on the left.
Trinity, who were missing some of their frontline players from the 2016-17 campaign, kept plugging away but they struggled to create try-scoring opportunities.
Terenure, on the other hand, had a bonus point in their sights, and it finally arrived six minutes from the end. Impressive centre Stephen O’Neill intercepted a pass and sprinted over to seal the maximum for James Blaney’s side.
St. Mary’s College 13 Garryowen 7, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Try: Mark Fallon; Con: Seán Kearns; Pens: Seán Kearns 2.
Garryowen: Try: Penalty try.
St. Mary’s College scored the only points of a tightly-contested second half to run out 13-7 winners over Garryowen at Templeville Road.
It was an encouraging start for Mary’s new head coach Peter Burke who watched flanker Mark Fallon claim a 46th-minute try, while out-half Seán Kearns’ penalty on the hour mark proving to be the match-winning score.
Scrums were an issue for Garryowen last season, but this is an area they really targeted in the summer with some key signings. Former Dublin University tighthead Andy ‘Panda’ Keating made his debut today and helped the Light Blues take a first half lead.
Keating’s old Trinity team-mate, Tim Maupin, also made his first league appearance since switching to Mary’s, and the hosts hit the front in the 11th minute thanks to a Kearns penalty.
Keating’s worth to his new club was encapsulated by Garryowen’s penalty try, early in the second quarter. They were camped on the Mary’s line with a series of scrum collapses. Under-fire Mary’s had a yellow card and replaced two looseheads, leaking seven points in the process.
Burke’s men gradually got to grips with Garryowen’s set piece power, aided by the leadership of new captain Ciaran Ruddock and recent Ireland Under-20 tighthead Adam Coyle, who has come up to the top flight via Naas, digging in on his Mary’s debut.
As the home side turned the screw and their loose forwards grew in influence, blindside Fallon broke through from close range for his try, just six minutes after the restart.
With their interval lead now a 10-7 deficit, Garryowen needed to react. They had the two Johnston brothers, David and Bill, in their back-line along with Diarmaid McCarthy, the former Ireland Sevens international who has made a welcome return to club action.
Garryowen boss Conan Doyle was also able to bring on Munster hooker Mike Sherry for the final 25 minutes, but the Mary’s defence continually frustrated the Limerick men who could not break their scoreless streak.
In the end, talented youngster Kearns’ final penalty of the afternoon – completing his eight-point haul – went unanswered as Mary’s retained the Shay Deering trophy which the two clubs compete for when they meet.
Young Munster 20 UCD 39, Tom Clifford Park
Scorers: Young Munster: Tries: Peter Meyer, Ger Slattery, Mark O’Meara; Con: Paul Downes; Pen: Paul Downes.
UCD: Tries: Jimmy O’Brien, Penalty try, Emmet MacMahon, Harry McNulty, Jamie Glynn; Cons: Ciaran Frawley 3; Pens: Ciaran Frawley 2.
Ireland Sevens stars Jimmy O’Brien and Harry McNulty score two of UCD’s five tries as they signalled their intent for the season ahead with a 39-20 bonus point win at Young Munster.
Munsters have been Division 1A semi-finalists for the last three years, and although they enjoyed superiority in the forward exchanges, a three-try salvo in nine minutes (starting on the hour mark) inspired the students to a memorable success.
The Cookies’ loosehead prop Peter Meyer opened the scoring with a try from an 18th minute maul converted by Paul Downes. Only for UCD to respond with an early contender for the IRFU’s newly-launched Ulster Bank League Try of the Month award.
With four current Ireland Sevens internationals in their back-line, UCD always posed a threat when given space, and a terrific move saw one of that quartet, 20-year-old centre O’Brien, scampered over for a peach of a score.
Number 10 Ciarán Frawley converted and with the rain coming down, he was successful with two penalty efforts after 34 and 39 minutes as College pushed into a 13-7 interval lead.
Munsters repeated the trick when a lineout drive saw hooker Ger Slattery cross the whitewash, only two minutes after the restart. Out-half Downes missed the conversion but tagged on a penalty to edge the hosts back in front – 15-13.
A tight finish was in prospect, but UCD’s quick-fire hat-trick of tries knocked that prediction well off course. A penalty try, coupled with a Munsters sin-binning, was followed by efforts from former captain Emmet MacMahon (65 minutes) and winger Harry McNulty (70).
Versatile UCD back Jamie Glynn also dotted down in a helter-skelter finish, with the students receiving a couple of yellow cards from referee Mark Patton. Munsters rallied with a try from replacement Mark O’Meara but it was very much a case of too little, too late.