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Monkstown cruise past Andrew's to make final

CBC MONKSTOWN are aiming for a fourth Vinnie Murray Cup success after a comfortable semi-final victory over St Andrew's at Wanderers RFC last week.

Coached by Conor Montayne, CBC will meet the winner's of the Gonzaga-Newpark semi-final after the mid-term.

Robert Hallam and Ronan Banaghan were the try-scoring heroes for Monkstown, while the kicking of out-half Aaron Sheehan really caught the eye.

Montayne was more than pleased with the performances his charges put in to clinch their place in the final. They previously lifted the trophy in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

He said: "This was a game I always felt we were comfortable in, with the exception of a 10 minute spell when St Andrew's put us under real pressure.

"I felt we could have won by more at the end but in a cup game you are happy just to come out on the winning side.



DIFFICULT

"This competition is always a hard one for us because the focus is on the senior cup and after going out of that it can be difficult to refocus the lads."

A second-half try from prop Banaghan was the deciding moment of the game after Monkstown led by just 10-7 at half-time.

Banaghan grounded close to the posts in the 39th minute after a rolling maul, and when Sheehan converted it never seemed that St Andrew's had the guile to unhinge the CBC defence.

Right from the off it was Monkstown that had caught the eye, with Darren O'Brien fielding securely under the high ball and Rory Keogh dominating at the lineout.

The spectacular running of flanker Johnny Rice was the main asset of the St Andew's side and he certainly had the CBC defence troubled on a number of occasions.

A brilliant crossfield kick from Sheehan produced the opening try for sprint star Hallam in the 20th minute.

It was a pinpoint delivery Ronan O'Gara would have been pleased with.

After Sheehan converted from under the posts it was set-up for CBC to take control, but St Andrew's went on to produce their best rugby of the afternoon to get back in the game.

Saints captain Josh Barrington took advantage of a brave call to run a penalty on the half-hour and burst through to bag a try. Mark Reid converted to level matters.

Sheehan's boot seemed to be the likely route to success for CBC at this point. He had a penalty attempt from wide on the left drop just short and a drop-goal attempt narrowly wide, but he was just finding his range.

The Monkstown out-half made no mistake from a close-range penalty in first-half injury-time to extend their lead.

He also converted Banaghan's try early in the second half to push his side out of reach.



GROUNDED

Conor Martin was desperately unlucky not to pinch another try for CBC in the 57th minute after being penalised for having his foot in touch as he grounded inside the try line.

Montayne will be interested to see who comes through the other semi-final now, but his hunch is that it will be Gonzaga, winners of this competition in 2008.

"Newpark have had a good run this year but Gonzaga have that bit more experience. It'll be close whoever comes through it though," he said.

Scorers -- CBC Monkstown: Hallam, Banaghan 1 try each, Sheehan 2 cons, 1 pen. St Andrew's: Barrington 1 try, Reid 1 con.

CBC Monkstown: D O'Brien, E Fitzpatrick (B Howard 45), R Hallam, S Hanley, C Martin (C Jordan 72), A Sheehan, S Woods; R Banaghan, K O'Neill (C O'Brien 69), A Howard, E Keogh, A Ryan, R Keogh, D O'Toole (G Monaghan 70), P Crown.

St Andrew's: M Reid (H Balbernie 66), J Rowe (M Ruttle 14), G Foxton, A McDonagh, M Hide, C Buckley, K Weymes (S Curran 65); N Veltom, A Brady, J Cawley, J Barrington, P Cremin, J Rice, C Weymes, M Kerr.

Referee: Ed Kenny (Leinster).


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