Walsh hails new-look Con as Hurley turns tide
LAST year's beaten finalists Cork Constitution came from 9-0 down to gain a well-deserved victory on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Not bad considering that they have lost quite a few of their leading players. However, they are still able to call on the goalkicking skills of Gerry Hurley.
The scrum-half, who so uncharacteristically missed a kick to send last season's final into extra-time, showed that he has lost none of his confidence by landing six out of six. Out-half Daragh Lyons added a late drop goal.
By the finish there was no doubting the visitors' superiority -- they had played virtually all of the second period in their opponents' half.
It was all very different in the first half when the young Lansdowne side, now coached by Mike Ruddock, seemed more at home in the difficult, wet conditions on the artificial pitch. Three penalties from out-half Craig Ronaldson put them 9-0 clear after 16 minutes.
What's more, they were unlucky not to be awarded a try when right-wing Cian Aherne was deemed not to have grounded the ball.
Gradually, Con got to grips with the situation and hit back to level matters at 9-9 with three penalties from Hurley before half-time.
Their greater experience and superior game management enabled Con to take control after the break.
Their back-row had a major say, with Brian O'Hara, a son of former international flanker Pat, doing particularly well at the breakdown.
Eventually, the penalty opportunities came and Hurley put over three more to make it 18-9, before Lyons completed matters with a drop-goal.
Coach Brian Walsh said: "Today was all about finding out if we are competitive. We found out that we are.
"This was a great win considering our changed circumstances. That said, it's much too early judge how we are going to do in the league."
Former Wales coach Mike Ruddock said: "It was a bit frustrating that Cian Aherne's try wasn't awarded, the boys tell me it was a definite try.
"But credit to Cork Con, they know what to do to win a game. We were a little bit naïve, giving away penalties against such a good goal-kicker as Hurley.
"It came down to who managed the game better, and they were superior in that area. We will just have to learn from the experience."
Lansdowne -- R McCarron (capt); C Aherne, S Carey, W Walsh, M Healy; C Ronaldson, P O'Driscoll (F Doherty 56); C Murphy (I Prenderville 57), D Toomey (S Collins h-t), D O'Reilly (W Earle 46), N Keogh, M Feeley, K Essex, J Kelly, R Boucher.
Cork Constitution -- S Scanlon; C Quinn, R Clune, I Dineen, S Zebo; D Lyons, G Hurley; M Gately, A Cudmore, J Ryan, B Hayes, P Donnellan (I Nagle 65), B Cutriss, B O'Hara, J Ryan (C O'Flaherty 48).
Ref -- M Black.