Sunday 25 February 2018

Quinlan boots Con to famous League victory

Luke Cahill celebrates Cork Con’s AIL victory. Photo: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Luke Cahill celebrates Cork Con’s AIL victory. Photo: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer Sportdesk

Cork Constitution completed an Ulster Bank League and Bateman Cup double with an impressive victory over defending champions Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium.

Cork Constitution ended a seven-year gap by winning the league title and made amends for a 28-25 defeat by Clontarf in last year's final.

Man of the match Tomás Quinlan kicked 20 points as Cork Con punished Clontarf's indiscipline that saw Royce Burns-Flynn and Sam Cronin yellow-carded at different stages.

Clontarf won the try count 3-1 with two of Clontarf's tries coming when they were playing with 14 players.

Quinlan kicked Con' into a 6-0 lead with penalties in the first 11 minutes before Clontarf opened their account with a try by Matt D'Arcy having been played in by Mick McGrath, before David Joyce converted. Quinlan restored then Con's advantage with a 17th-minute penalty.

Despite being down to 14 players after Burke-Flynn received a yellow card, McGrath scored Clontarf's second try and Joyce converted five minutes before half-time.

Quinlan kicked his fourth penalty on 37 minutes to leave Clontarf 14-12 ahead at the break.

A Quinlan penalty three minutes into the second half put Con' back in front for a lead they would not relinquish. A break by the impressive Brian Hayes set up Shane Daly who sent Rob Jermyn in for a Con' try on 50 minutes and Quinlan added the extra points.

With Sam Cronin receiving a yellow card on 59 minutes, Quinlan converted the resulting penalty for a 25-14 lead for the Leesiders. Mike Kearney scored Clontarf's third try 15 minutes from time and Rob Keogh converted.

Clontarf dominated the final stages but a solid Constitution defence held firm for a famous victory for the Temple Hill side.

Cork Constitution - Shane Daly; Liam O'Connell, Ned Hodson, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Tomas Quinlan, Jason Higgins; Liam O'Connor, Vincent O'Brien, Ger Sweeney; Brian Hayes, Conor Kindregan; Graeme Lawler, James Murphy, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Rory Burke for Sweeney (half-time), Kevin O'Byrne for O'Brien (46-56 mins; 59), Sean O'Leary for Lawler (56), JJ O'Neill for Hodson (64-66), John Poland for Higgins (71), Gavin Duffy for O'Connor (71-79). Not used: Ross O'Neill.

Burnfort rolls out red carpet

Women's rugby will be taking centre stage this summer, as Ireland plays host to the Women's Rugby World Cup in August, with the Irish hoping to use home advantage and improve further on their fourth-place finish in 2014.

While the tournament is set to take place in Dublin and Belfast across the month of August, reigning All-Ireland League and Cup winners UL Bohemians have shown the strength of the women's game in Munster, while an extremely competitive two divisions indicate there is also plenty of talent within the local game.

There were no fewer than 13 Munster players included in Anthony Eddy's 48-strong training squad ahead of the tournament, and Niamh Briggs will be looking to compete in her third consecutive World Cup.

Off-the-field preparations continue, including the Trophy Tour, which in the last few weeks visited every single county in the province, including a stop at Coláiste Toibirthe in Bandon, and last week the trophy moved to North Cork as Burnfort put on a spectacular welcome.

Anna Caplice, who will be hoping to break into the Irish squad for that World Cup, got her first taste of rugby in school back in Mallow, and last week she was inspiring the next generation as pupils from Burnfort National School performed a very special Haka 'As Gaeilge' with the trophy in tow.

After creating a fantastic poster, making up the Irish jersey with factfiles from each player, the girls were treated to a Q&A with Anna, who made her first XV cap against Canada in last year's November Test series. The back-row forward then saw some potential future Ireland stars take part in a blitz in the village - situated just south of Mallow - organised by Mallow RFC.

Much credit is due to Burnfort NS and Mallow RFC for making the day happen, and to all the clubs and schools who have put in such hard work to make the Munster leg of the Women's World Cup Trophy Tour a massive success.

Irish Independent

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