Friday 23 February 2018

Hurley turns pressure into points to earn Con title

Cork Constitution players celebrate with the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup
Cork Constitution players celebrate with the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup

Cork Constitution retained their Ulster Bank Bateman Cup title last Saturday with an impressive 19-6 victory over UCD at Temple Hill.

The triumph has continued Munster's dominance of this competition since its reintroduction following their win over St Mary's last season.

The title was previously claimed by Bruff in 2011 and Garryowen in 2012.

It was the defensive qualities of the home side that set the pattern for this victory as Cork Constitution never allowed the Dublin students any room to play their expansive game and their commitment to the tackle paid dividends.

UCD always looked dangerous with ball in hand, especially their back line where Barry Daly and Andy Boyle made some telling runs. However, injuries to three of those backs – Stephen Murphy, Alex Kelly and Sam Coghlan-Murray – in the first half ultimately disrupted their momentum.

James Thornton broke the deadlock on 24 minutes as dominance by the Dublin side was rewarded with a penalty.

Little was seen of Con as an attacking force up to that point, but a great break out of defence by Darragh Lyons saw him kick ahead and the ball bounced kindly for him as he outpaced the UCD defence to score.

Gerry Hurley converted to give Con a 7-3 lead they would never relinquish.

A yellow card to Con's hooker Andy O'Driscoll saw Thornton kick his second penalty on 32 minutes, but the out-half was off target with a penalty two minutes before the break.

Hurley extended Con's advantage with a well-taken penalty on the stroke of half-time to leave the Temple Hill side 10-6 ahead at the break.

Con had UCD on the back foot, but Hurley missed a drop-goal attempt and a penalty to extend his side's advantage.

Continuous pressure by the Con pack, where Graeme Lawlor, Billy Holland and Ger Sweeney were prominent, saw Hurley kick penalties on 54, 70 and 76 minutes to secure a deserved victory for the Cork outfit.

Cork Constitution – D Lyons; E O'Donnell, M Keyes, N Kenneally, C Desmond; J Holland, G Hurley (capt); G Duffy, A O'Driscoll, G Sweeney; J McSwiney, B Holland; G Lawlor, J Ryan, W Ryan. Reps: M Abbott, C Corkery, R Burke, C O'Flaherty, L Cahill, R Foley, A Ryan.

UCD – A Boyle; S Coghlan-Murray, A Kelly, S Murphy, B Daly; J Thornton, J Glynn; J Tracey, R Byrne, K Moloney; S Grannell (capt), E MacMahon; J van der Flier, M McGroarty, E Joyce. Reps: L Hyland, B Cawley, R Harrison, A Clarkin, S O'Meara, N Earls, T Fletcher.

Ref – N Correll (IRFU).

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