Thursday 12 December 2019

Clontarf's Students stumble leaves Old Belvedere hot on heels for title run-in

A late try form Michael McGrath helped Clontarf pick up a bonus point in their defeat to UCD
A late try form Michael McGrath helped Clontarf pick up a bonus point in their defeat to UCD

Clontarf's lead at the top of Division 1A has been cut to just a point following a shock 39-33 defeat to an under-strength UCD in a rearranged match at Belfield.

The defeat puts second-placed Old Belvedere right back in the hunt with only two matches remaining. It had been anticipated that Clontarf would prove much too strong for a UCD side missing several top players because of their involvement with the Leinster 'A' side against Munster 'A' on Friday night.

Yet, the Students produced an outstanding performance of running rugby to score five tries through Barry Daly, Shane O'Meara, Stephen Murphy, Niall Earls and James Murray. It took a late fightback for Clontarf to secure what could yet prove to be a vital losing bonus point.

They had tries from Michael McGrath and replacement Cathal O'Flynn to add to an early effort from Tim McCoy.

Importantly, out-half David Joyce was in good goal-kicking form, landing all three conversions and four penalties.

Clontarf play Lansdowne away and Ballynahinch at home in their last two games. Old Belvedere face Dolphin at home and Garryowen away in what promises to be an exciting and tense finish to the title race.

UCD's surprise victory means that they have moved up to third place in the table, ahead of Lansdowne, who went down 38-18 to St Mary's College in the other re-arranged game on the back pitch at the Aviva Stadium.

It was a vital success for St Mary's on the basis that they are now almost certainly clear of relegation trouble.

They crossed for six tries, with scrum-half Matthew D'Arcy getting two of them. The other tries came from Ciaran Ruddock, Robbie Hudson, Marcus O'Driscoll and Colm McMahon. Lansdowne replied with tries from Willie Walsh, Peter Dooley and Tom Kiersey.

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