McGrath's late try breaks Shannon hearts
Former Leinster winger Mick McGrath crossed for a 78th-minute try to rescue a win from the jaws of defeat as Clontarf edged out a young Shannon side 22-17 in Division 1A.
Jake Flannery scored all of Shannon's points on Thomond Park's back pitch, including an opportunist try early in the second half and a monster lead penalty from the half-way line. However, the 19-year-old man of the match's exploits were not enough as McGrath swooped to claim four valuable points on the road.
Clontarf opened the scoring with a penalty from out-half David Joyce, but Flannery replied with two kicks.
Despite losing McGrath to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, Clontarf went back in front when Jack Power's break sent Tony Ryan over in the corner. Joyce converted and the visitors added a second try in the 31st minute, working winger Sean O'Brien over out wide.
Shannon closed the gap to 15-9 at half-time, and they were soon within a point on the resumption as Flannery seized on a dropped ball to score Shannon's only try, although he missed the conversion.
The action swung back and forth before Kelvin Brown did well to recover an overthrown lineout and won a penalty from which Flannery split the posts from 50 metres out to make it 17-15 late on.
But 'Tarf kept their composure in to work their way downfield, and McGrath forced his way over from close range.
Replacement Conor Kelly's conversion, coupled with 'Tarf's defensive pressure which forced a late lost lineout for Shannon in a very promising position, sealed a fourth victory on the trot for the north Dubliners, who have taken over from Cork Constitution at the top of the table.
Harry Byrne enjoyed a dream Lansdowne debut on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch as his 20-point haul helped the defending champions to a 35-27 bonus-point victory over Cork Con.
Ross Byrne's younger brother stepped in at out-half for the absent Scott Deasy, bagging two first-half tries and kicking two conversions and two penalties in this repeat of May's final.
Byrne seized an early lead with a seventh-minute penalty. The Ireland under 20 international then sped through a gap for a terrific unconverted try, but Con churned out a powerful lineout maul from which lock Brian Hayes touched down in the 16th minute.
Lansdowne pushed into a 15-5 lead after Tim Murphy picked out his half-back partner with an incisive pass and Byrne jinked over the whitewash and converted himself. Byrne and his opposite number Aidan Moynihan swapped penalties before Byrne was able to release winger Daniel McEvoy for a try to the left of the posts and a 25-8 half-time lead.
Just four minutes into the second period a costly turnover led to Lansdowne winger Adam Leavy racing clear to brilliantly secure the bonus point.
A pulsating final quarter saw Con draw themselves back into contention. Luke Cahill finished off their second try, with Moynihan supplying the conversion, and Jason Higgins put winger Jack Costigan over in the corner.
The margin was down to 30-20 at that stage, but Lansdowne re-established territory inside the Con half before the pressure told and lock Jack Dwan scored the clinching try. There was still enough time for Con captain Niall Kenneally to crash over for a final try, ensuring the Leesiders took home a try-scoring bonus point.
Dublin University got their first league win of the season as Michael Silvester's hat-trick of tries guided them past Young Munster on a 37-26 scoreline at College Park.
Silvester, who returned at full-back following Celtic Cup success with Leinster 'A', was at the end of some electric moves from the home backline. There was also a key contribution from out-half James Fennelly, who nailed seven place-kicks for a 17-point haul.
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