'Tarf firepower too much for sorry 'Hinch
Clontarf are odds-on for home advantage in the Ulster Bank League play-offs after hammering bottom side Ballynahinch 31-13 at Ballymacarn Park. 'Tarf moved seven points clear at the top of Division 1A with two rounds left. Their five-try haul included one from debutant Neil Reilly, the former Ireland under 18 Clubs captain.
'Hinch were in the hunt, trailing 12-10 at half-time, with Chris Quinn kicking a penalty to add to an early try. However, Clontarf's firepower proved too much for their hosts and Quinn's second successful penalty was followed by a run of 19 unanswered points from the Dubliners, including tries from Reilly, Rob McGrath and Tom Byrne.
Replacement back rower Reilly scored from a lineout maul, while Michael Brown, who scored 'Tarf's opener, did the groundwork for McGrath's bonus point effort. McGrath's brother Mick, the hirsute Leinster winger, also dotted down during the opening half, taking his tally for the campaign to 11 tries.
Young Munster climbed above UCD into second place after beating the students 28-13 at Tom Clifford Park. The Cookies condemned Noel McNamara's youngsters to their third straight defeat, with UCD's challenge for the play-offs now in real danger of going off the rails.
Munsters scored three tries in all, avenging a 56-22 hammering by the students earlier in the season and giving themselves a major confidence boost ahead of their upcoming April 1 derby clash with Garryowen. Ireland Sevens international Gearoid Lyons set the home side on their way with an eighth-minute penalty and landed another 10 minutes later. Full-back Craig O'Hanlon chased down a kick to score the opening try, with UCD 11-3 behind at the break. Billy Dardis landed a second penalty in the 52nd minute, but Lyons kept the scoreboard ticking over for Munsters before centre Dan Goggin got the second try. Eight minutes from the end, Peter Meyer scored the third try via a quickly-taken tap penalty. Lyons converted again, before UCD winger Barry Daly ran in a late consolation effort with his 11th try of the season.
Cork Constitution ground out a tense 16-14 victory over Garryowen in a combative Munster derby at Temple Hill. With Munster's Shane Buckley making an impact off the bench, Garryowen led by eight points early in the second half, thanks to Alex Wootton's seven-pointer. Wootton had struck late to give his side a 23-19 win over Con back in September, but the Corkmen had other ideas here.
Full-back Tomas Quinlan stepped forward to nail his third successful penalty, and Aaron Spring, the former Sligo and Ireland underage starlet, emerged as the Leesiders' hero. The right winger crashed over in the 72nd minute for his third try in two games. Quinlan's conversion split the sides at 16-14, and Constitution held out. Neil Cronin hit the woodwork with a Garryowen penalty and a subsequent knock-on handed possession back to the victors.
Terenure College lifted themselves out of the relegation play-off spot with a stunning 32-3 triumph over Lansdowne at Lakelands Park. The defending Division 1A champions - missing the influence of injured captain Scott Deasy - crumbled in the second half as 'Nure tallied up five tries for only their second bonus point of the campaign. This defeat was a huge setback to Lansdowne's ambitions of retaining the title. They are seventh with two rounds left. Fourth-placed Cork Con are six points ahead of them and also have a game in hand.
Old Belvedere took themselves clear of the relegation zone too with a six-try 32-24 dismissal of Galwegians at Crowley Park. Belvo out-thought and outmuscled Galwegians, with lynchpin captain Jonathan Slattery helping himself to two tries.
St Mary's College continued their march back to Division 1A rugby with a 24-3 bonus point win away to Shannon, their 12th victory on the trot. Tries from Terry Kennedy and David Fanagan launched Mary's into a 14-3 half-time lead. Tadhg Bennett contributed Shannon's points off the kicking tee. A clever switch move saw winger Kennedy glide over in the 14th minute for 7-3, and scrum-half Fanagan followed him soon after, sniping around the corner from a close-in maul.
Tempers flared on the resumption as Mary's Marcus O'Driscoll saw yellow against his old club, and Shannon's Robbie Deegan was sin-binned for a high tackle. But the Dubliners stayed on course, with Brian McGovern getting over from a 55th-minute rolling maul. The bonus point was supplied by replacement Conor Toolan.
Sunday Indo Sport