Clontarf out in front as 14-man Munsters hold on
CLONTARF are the only unbeaten team in Division 1A following Young Munster's 9-3 derby success over Shannon at Tom Clifford Park on Saturday.
It was quite an achievement as Young Munster had to play for 50 minutes with 14 men after skipper Ger Slattery was sent off by referee Dudley Phillips following an altercation with Shannon player-coach Stephen Keogh.
Somehow, though, Young Munster managed to secure a victory that moves them up to second in the table behind Clontarf. Shannon drop to third. At the time of the sending-off, Young Munster led 6-3 through a drop-goal and a penalty from Willie Staunton, with Gareth Quinn McDonagh replying with a penalty for Shannon.
As hard as they tried, Shannon could not take advantage of the extra man and it was Young Munster who had the last word with a further penalty from Staunton.
All the signs are it is going to be a very open league race. Apart from Clontarf, who have won four on the trot following Friday night's 25-13 success over Lansdowne, every team has lost at least one game.
Cork Constitution have lost two following their 13-9 defeat to Garryowen, an uncharacteristic second successive home loss.
Credit must go to the young Garryowen outfit who scored a crucial opportunist try through wing Alan Gaughan just before half-time.
Fergal Lawlor added the conversion and also kicked two second-half penalties, while Gerry Hurley kicked three penalties for Con.
Ballynahinch continue to lead the way in Division 1B following a comfortable 31-11 home success over UCC. To complete matters, they picked up a bonus point scoring five tries through Aaron Ferris (2), David Nicholson, Willie Faloon and James Simpson.
Second-placed Buccaneers have also started with four straight victories. Their latest success saw them travel to Limerick to defeat UL Bohemians 12-8, with substitute Martin Staunton getting the crucial second-half try.
Ballymena are third following a runaway 32-19 victory over bottom-of-the-table Galwegians at Eaton Park, Dungannon got the better of Belfast Harlequins 27-15 at Deramore Park, while an improving UCD outfit defeated Bruff 21-8 at the Belfield Bowl.