Deasy guides Lansdowne to title glory
LANSDOWNE 18 CLONTARF 17
A 67th-minute penalty from Scott Deasy was the difference between the teams at the Aviva Stadium yesterday afternoon, when Lansdowne secured the Ulster Bank League Division 1A title.
'Tarf were aiming to become the first team since Shannon in 2006 to successfully defending their All-Ireland League crown, but despite leading by nine points (17-8) after 55 minutes, a strong Lansdowne fightback ensured that the top-flight domestic trophy will reside in Ballsbridge for the second time in three seasons.
Regular 'Tarf place-kicker David Joyce was again absent through injury, but rather than semi-final hero Matt D'Arcy, it was returning fullback Rob Keogh who deputised on this occasion.
He swapped penalties with Deasy during the early moments of the contest, but despite falling behind to a further Keogh three-pointer, Lansdowne eventually moved into the ascendancy for the very first time on 22 minutes.
A terrific cross-field pass from Deasy (who featured alongside Simon Zebo and Peter O'Mahony for Cork Constitution in the 2011 AIL decider) was fielded superbly by Ian Fitzpatrick, and after receiving a quick offload from his fellow winger, Mark Roche touched down under pressure in the right corner.
As a result, the 2012/'13 champions brought a slender 8-6 cushion into the second period of play. The 45th-minute sin-binning of replacement Adam Boland was a significant setback for Lansdowne, though, and following Keogh's third successful attempt from the kicking tee seven minutes after the restart, inside centre D'Arcy intercepted an ambitious pass from Deasy to break away for an unconverted score.
There certainly were ominous signs for Mike Ruddock's men during this juncture, but they reignited their challenge towards the end of the third quarter when flanker Joe McSwiney applied the finishing touches to a powerful lineout maul on the left-hand side.
Deasy added the bonuses with the help of the woodwork, and courtesy of his outstanding touchline penalty 13 minutes from the end, the Ballsbridge outfit had turned the tie on its head.
The yellow card issued to 'Tarf's Ariel Robles also meant that they had a numerical advantage in the closing stages, and although Deasy was off target with his final kick two minutes from the end, Lansdowne held out for victory by the slenderest of margins.
Scorers - Lansdowne: M Roche, J McSwiney try each, S Deasy 2 pens, con. Clontarf: M D'Arcy try, R Keogh 4 pens
Lansdowne: C Kelleher; M Roche, T Farrell, T Daly, I Fitzpatrick; S Deasy, A Griggs; P Dooley, T Moran, I Prendiville; B Moylett, S Gardiner; J McSwiney, A Conneely, R Boucher. Replacements: C Aherne for Kelleher (16-25, blood sub), A Boland for Prendiville (28), T Beirne for Moylett (50), Prendiville for McSwiney (51-54), J O'Brien for Boucher (59-76), P O'Driscoll for Griggs (62)
Clontarf: R Keogh; C O'Brien, C O'Shea, M D'Arcy, M McFarland; E Ryan, S Cronin; I Soroka, B Byrne, R Burke-Flynn; T Byrne, B Reilly; K Moran, A D'Arcy, T Ryan. Replacements: T McCoy for Ryan (39), A Robles for McCoy (h-t),I Hirst for Soroka (58), C O'Keeffe for T Byrne (60), McCoy for Keogh (68), L óg Murphy for Ryan (73), D O'Meara for Cronin (76), R Litchfield for B Byrne (79)
Referee: S Gallagher (IRFU)
Sunday Indo Sport