Classy Carbery ensures gutsy Clontarf edge final thriller
Clontarf 28 Cork Con 25
There was to be no final heartbreak for Clontarf this time round as the league’s best team deservedly edged Cork Con in a thrilling advertisement for club rugby at the Aviva Stadium.
A one-point defeat in last year’s decider meant that motivation was not in short supply for a ‘Tarf side who were guided by their mercurial out-half Joey Carbery.
The 20-year-old is destined for big things and yesterday’s man-of- the-match performance in front of Joe Schmidt served as the latest reminder of his class.
Carbery dictated the tempo for his side and the way in which he glided across the turf was a joy to watch. Born in New Zealand, Carbery has been living in Ireland since he was 12 and having already played once for Leinster in the Pro12 this season, the province have a special talent on their hands.
“It’s good to stand out in a game but the most important thing for impressing him (Schmidt) I reckon is just keep training, keep developing over the next few years and hopefully be in the (shake-up) for opportunities,” Carbery said.
‘Tarf had built up a 21-3 half-time lead after converted tries from Matt D’Arcy, Tony Ryan and a fine individual effort from Carbery himself.
Tomas Quinlan had fired over a superb long-range penalty just before the break leaving Con with a mountain to climb but when Max Abbot powered his way over shortly after the restart they began the comeback. Quinlan added the extras as well as a penalty in quick succession as the gap was cut to eight (21-13).
But try-scoring machine Mick McGrath took his try tally to 15 and Carbery (above) again converted with Tony Ryan in the bin.
Back came Con again with tries through Darren Sweetnam and Robert Jermyn which left ’Tarf facing a nervy finish. But with Carbery continuing to pull the strings, his composure ensured his side won their second title.
For coach Andy Wood, watching one of his players thrive on the big stage was massively rewarding but there is a realisation that the amount of time Carbery spends in a ‘Tarf jersey next season will be significantly less as he will almost certainly push through the Leinster ranks.
“It’s pretty obvious for everyone to see. Whether he was taking a high ball under huge pressure or running our attack shape or making breaks himself, it was a pretty spectacular performance,” Wood enthused.
“He’s a very, very special player. We’ve been lucky to have him this year. He’s aware of the skills he has, but he’s very composed and he’s very honest with himself.
“The composure instils that confidence across the rest of the players. It was pretty clear how good he was today and how good he’s been all season, turning it on when it counts, having the composure and the confidence to play, regardless of the match situation. It got us over the line ultimately.”
Clontarf – E Ryan (R McGrath 4); M Brown, C O’Brien, M D’Arcy, M McGrath; J Carbery, S Cronin (P Du Toite 49); I Soroka, B Byrne (A Dundon 49), I Hirst (V Abdaladze 60); T Byrne (E Browne 64-75), B Reilly (capt); M Noone, K Moran (N Reilly 18-26, 78), A Ryan.
Cork Constitution – D Sweetnam; A Spring, S Daly, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, R Foley (J Poland 78); G Duffy (L O’Connor h-t), M Abbot, G Sweeney (R Burke h-t); B Hayes, C Kindregan; G Lawler (C O’Flaherty 53), J Murphy (S Dwyer 79), R Ryan (capt).
Ref– A Brace (IRFU)