Garryowen deny Old Belvedere as Clontarf land first ever AIL title
In the end it not only went down to the last game of the season but also the final play of what was a thrilling encounter between Garryowen and Old Belvedere at Dooradoyle.
Belvo knew that a win would seal their second ever league title but Garryowen who were already consigned to relegation caused one of the major upsets in the most dramatic day of AIL action.
Belvo’s nerves were evident from the kick off and Garryowen capitalised on that after just two minutes when Munster academy winger, Harry McNulty touched down for the game’s opening try.
Andrew O’Byrne converted for a 7-0 lead and the fly half had the opportunity to extend his side’s lead shortly later but he missed what looked like a straightforward penalty.
Kieran Gorman’s try just before the half hour brought Belvo back into the game as the former Garryowen player made the most of a quick tap penalty by Leo Auva’a. Josh Glynn added the extras to pull Belvo level at 7-7.
Garryowen capped an excellent first half performance with a stunning second try just before the break. McNulty made the initial break before the ball was spun wide for Anthony Kavanagh to score. O’Byrne again converted to give his side a 14-7 half time lead.
O’Byrne extended Garryowen’s lead with a sweetly struck drop goal shortly after the restart but Glynn immediately hit back with a penalty.
Garryowen were reduced to 13-players when Ed Rossiter and Aaron McCloskey were both sent to the sin bin. Belvo soon made their numerical advantage count when Philip O’Dwyer got over in the corner to bring the score back to 20-15.
O’Dwyer’s afternoon took a turn for the worst when he was sin binned 5-minutes later and with that went Belvo’s title hopes.
O’Byrne fired over the resulting penalty and although Glynn did reply with a penalty of his own, Belvo left themselves too much to do as they came up one-point to short to Clontarf who are crowned AIL champions for the first time in the club’s history.
Garryowen: A Wooton; H McNulty (E Connolly 67), A Gaughan, C Doyle, C O’Shea; A O’Byrne, N Cronin; R Brosnan © (P O’Shea 17), E Rossiter, JP Cooney; M Hanrahan (D Mulcair 52), A McCloskey; S Buckley, A Kavanagh, M Rowley (D Rowley 60).
Old Belvedere: J Glynn; A Wynne, J Kennedy, S Berne, P O’Dwyer; S Crosbie, A Sheehan (F Lawlor 75); P O’Regan, K McDonald (K O’Neill h/t), D Lavery (A Howard 15); D Moore (A Trenier 75), J Eden-Whatiri; J Slattery ©, K O’Gorman, L Auva’a.