Wood hails 'exceptional' McGrath after hat-trick
RIGHT-WING Michael McGrath crossed for a hat-trick of tries as Clontarf beat Young Munster 46-28 at Castle Avenue to secure a bonus point and maintain their lead at the top of Division 1A.
In all, the match contained nine tries, with six of them coming from Clontarf. Yet, apart from a spectacular try from McGrath in the opening 30 seconds, which saw him run three-quarters of the length of the field, Clontarf struggled to find their form in the first half.
Indeed, the league leaders looked vulnerable after they had flanker Brendan Cutriss yellow-carded when only ahead 13-9 at the interval. However, their 14 men then produced an outstanding spell, which saw them move 25-9 in front within eight minutes of the restart.
Flanker Adrian D'Arcy and McGrath added tries, both of which were converted by out-half David Joyce. That period was effectively the winning and losing of the match.
The victory, Clontarf's sixth in a row, keeps them a point clear at the top of the table.
Coach Andy Wood admitted to being worried at the interval. "We were inaccurate and on the back foot for much of the first half. But we played some really good rugby to take control in that period when we were down to 14 men after the interval," he said.
On the subject of McGrath, the coach commented: "He is getting opportunities off the hard work of the rest of the team but he's also creating a lot for himself. He's playing exceptionally well at the moment."
Old Belvedere remain hot on the heels of the leaders following a hard-earned bonus-point 27-24 success over St Mary's College at Templeville Road.
Once again, highly regarded back-row Jack Conan was among the try scorers. Their other tries came from Josh Eden-Whaitiri, Mark Corballis and Philip Dwyer, while Shaun Berne landed two conversions and a penalty.
UCD returned to winning form following two defeats with a 23-17 home victory over Cork Constitution. The result moved them back up to third spot in the table, four points behind Old Belvedere.
James Thornton played a major role, contributing 18 points with a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal. Talented full-back Andy Boyle was responsible for the students' other try.
Cork Con, who had tries from Cathal O'Flaherty and Luke Duffy, have now lost three on the trot.
Defending champions Lansdowne are up to fourth after trouncing bottom side Garryowen 35-10 at Dooradoyle, where they went over for five tries, with Leinster prop Jack O'Connell getting two of them.
In the big match in Division 1B, leaders Terenure College produced an outstanding performance to demolish the previously unbeaten Corinthians 57-10 at Corinthian Park. Terenure are the only side with a 100pc record in the top two divisions.
They crossed for six tries, with Kevin O'Neill and John Bollard getting two each.
They are now four points clear of Buccaneers, who have moved into second spot after beating Blackrock College 41-22 at Stradbrook.