Wood joy as Clontarf find feet on road
CLONTARF and Old Belvedere could not be in more contrasting situations after their Division 1A encounter at Anglesea Road.
Thanks to Dolphin's win over St Mary's College, Clontarf have moved back to the top of the table and have every chance of claiming the title. On the other hand, defending champions Belvo are seven points adrift at the bottom of the league and seemingly doomed to automatic relegation.
Phil Werahiko, the man who masterminded last season's success, has been replaced as head coach by Andy Dunne in the hope that something can still be done -- but sadly their troubles continue.
While this was an improved performance under ex-Harlequins and Leinster out-half Dunne, it was not enough for Belvo to record their first victory of the season. Once Clontarf took the lead in the 27th minute with a try from No 8 Frank Cogan, they always looked likely to complete the double over their Dublin rivals.
By the final 10 minutes, Clontarf were chasing a bonus point for a fourth try -- they didn't manage it, but it didn't seem to worry their coach Andy Wood. More importantly he has seen his side respond well after three successive away defeats.
"To come here and get a win, that's what it was all about," said Wood. "We've had our problems away from home but now we've put a good run together. The league is still wide open."
Wood might have had a few initial concerns as Clontarf trailed to a penalty from Eamon Fitzgerald for most of the opening half, but Cogan's try -- following good work from skipper Barry O'Mahony -- helped settle them.
Clontarf were ahead 12-3 at the interval, with full-back Richie Lane landing the conversion and centre Killian Lett then adding a further unconverted try. Two further penalties from Lane extended that advantage to 18-3, before a superb run from Old Belvedere full-back Danny Riordan set up a try for winger Eddie Devitt.
But Clontarf moved 25-8 clear in the 70th minute as the impressive O'Mahony ran in from halfway for a try which Lane converted.
Belvo defended well to deny their rivals the bonus point and then came up with a consolation try in the dying minutes through replacement hooker Mark Cooney.
Coach Dunne believes they must stay upbeat, despite their situation. "We have no option," he said. "Our main problem is there are too many lapses in concentration and you can't afford that against Clontarf."
Old Belvedere -- D Riordan; E Fitzgerald, J Kennedy, B Woods, E Devitt; A Wynne, S Keogh; V Soden, D Gilchrist, B O'Dea; D Moore, A Trenier; R Leyden (capt), C Mallon, R Monaghan.
Clontarf -- R Lane; M McGrath, K Lett, C Keegan, T McCoy; M Dufficy, S Cronin; B Barclay, A Dundon, N Treston; B Reilly, J Chipman; S Crawford, B O'Mahony (capt), F Cogan.
Ref -- J Carvill.