Wednesday 21 August 2019

Munster scrum-half Williams caps off his rugby career in style as Cork Con clinch AIL crown

 

Cork Con’s Aidan Moynihan and Niall Kenneally celebrate with the cup. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Cork Con’s Aidan Moynihan and Niall Kenneally celebrate with the cup. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The celebrations in the Cork Con dressing room could be heard from the tunnel as the jubilant winners got the party started.

Duncan Williams walked slowly across the turf at the Aviva Stadium savouring the moment.

Patrick Finlay of Clontarf is tackled by Evan Mintern of Cork Constitution. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Patrick Finlay of Clontarf is tackled by Evan Mintern of Cork Constitution. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The scrum-half has achieved a lot in his 11-year professional career and he added to that by coming off the bench to score the decisive try that saw Con crowned All-Ireland League (AIL) champions for the sixth time.

Last week, Munster announced that Williams' time with his home province is up at the end of the season, and while the 33-year old was open to continuing his career, he confirmed that yesterday was likely to have been his final game.

If indeed that is the end, then Williams can hold his head up high as he bows out of the game as an AIL winner for a third time.

A bitter-sweet moment if ever there was one, and as the Cork native reflected in the immediate aftermath of his side's 28-13 win over Clontarf, the range of emotions in his face was visible.

Matthew Darcy of Clontarf is tackled by Dylan Murphy and Evan Mintern of Cork Constitution. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Matthew Darcy of Clontarf is tackled by Dylan Murphy and Evan Mintern of Cork Constitution. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

"At the moment, I have no club, so that looks like it will be my last game of rugby," Williams said.

"I suppose I found out in November that I wasn't going to be kept on with Munster so I have been looking since then and nothing has come up. I have a wife and child to be thinking about now as well."

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It hasn't all been plain sailing for Williams, who despite having to cope with an unfair amount of flack from some Munster supporters, has long been one of the most respected players in the dressing room.

As well as that, you don't last 11 years at Munster and play 163 games for a club that big unless you are doing something right.

"I won the AIL here with my friends from college and some of us in the Academy with Munster," Williams continued.

"So to come back nine years later and win another one is great.

"The club is important to me. I am probably helping them out because I am taking a break on the sideline due to my old age.

"I have played professional rugby for ten years and I have seen little bits that can be improved on. I just try and help out as much as I can.

"My quota is usually one try a year so between Boston and this, I am up to three."

Williams had only just been sprung from the bench when he scored Con's third try just before the hour mark that ultimately killed off Clontarf's challenge.

Con had led 14-10 at the break thanks to tries from the impressive Shane Daly and man-of-the-match Rob Jermyn as well as two Aidan Moynihan conversions.

Tarf stalwart Matt D'Arcy got over for a try on the stroke of half-time to give his side hope of mounting a comeback, but when his side lost two props to injury before the hour mark, they were forced to finish the game with 14 players.

This quirky rule is something that must be looked at going forward because this was no way to decide what was a closely fought contest.

"We were getting an edge in the scrum, so once that was taken away from us, it was tricky," Tarf head coach Andy Wood conceded.

"If they extended it to 23 for the final, then you have full front-row cover. We ran out of puff."

Con pair Alex McHenry and Sean French, as well as Angus Lloyd, each spent 10 minutes in the sin bin, but it was the Cork side who held their nerve and generally looked sharper.

Moynihan kicked well all afternoon and his three late penalties ensured that Con headed back to Leeside with another cup in tow.

Cork Con - L O'Connell; S French, S Daly (Jermyn 79), A McHenry, R Jermyn (J Wren 65); A Moynihan, J Higgins (D Williams 55); G Duffy (B Quinlan 69), V O'Brien (M Abbott 76), D Murphy (P Casey 78); B Hayes (capt), E Mintern; J McSwiney (J Murphy 50), K Sheehan (R O'Neill 68), L Cahill.

Clontarf - J Power; M Courtney, S O'Brien, M D'Arcy, C O'Donoghue (A Feeney 45) (C O'Brien 53); D Joyce (C Kelly 72), A Lloyd; I Soroka (V Abdaladze 13), P Finlay, R Burke-Flynn (D Adamson 51); C Daly (B Deeny 62), B Reilly; A Ryan, A Darcy (T Ryan 69), M Noone (capt).

REF - J Erskine.

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