Sunday 19 November 2017

Cork Con set for another crack at Clontarf in AIL showdown

Conor Kindregan of Cork Con holds off Matthew D’Arcy of Lansdowne in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final. Photo: SAM BARNES/SPORTSFILE
Conor Kindregan of Cork Con holds off Matthew D’Arcy of Lansdowne in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final. Photo: SAM BARNES/SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

An understrength Young Munster team suffered their third Ulster Bank League semi-final defeat in as many years, as defending champions Clontarf proved too strong at Castle Avenue.

Clontarf ran in six tries, including a brace from former Leinster winger Mick McGrath, to claim a 37-29 win and move within 80 minutes of their third Division 1A title in four years.

The north Dubliners will face Cork Constitution in a repeat of last year's final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, May 7.

Yesterday afternoon on their 4G pitch, it was McGrath who led the way, breaking through a ruck to score under the posts in the third minute, with David Joyce converting.

Munster were understandably annoyed at the IRFU's scheduling of the semi-finals for the same weekend as the British & Irish Cup final and Champions Cup semi-finals - a clash the Union's All-Ireland League committee have known about and done nothing to rectify since last July.

Dan Goggin, Cian Bohane, Robin Copeland and Gavin Coombes started for Munster 'A' in Friday's B&I Cup final success over Jersey Reds, so the Cookies had to do without that quartet, but did at least have Fineen Wycherley, Calvin Nash and Abrie Griesel at their disposal.

One of Young Munster's leading performers this season, teenage out-half Alan Tynan, was inspirational, cutting through for a brace of first-half tries.

The Tipperary starlet danced through the Clontarf defence and converted his seventh-minute try to bring the visitors level, before he sniped over for a second early in the second quarter.

Crucially, Andy Wood's home side took advantage of a yellow card to score 10 points in the lead-up to half-time, out-half Joyce landing a penalty and converting captain Ben Reilly's late score.

A 17-12 interval deficit was suddenly 27-15 in the third quarter as Munster, who had a 50th-minute penalty from Tynan, dug deep to stay in contention. Either side of Tynan's kick, McGrath burst through for his second try and centre Conor O'Brien also touched down.

That strength in depth proved too much for Munster to handle, Clontarf replacement Rob McGrath duly joining his brother as a try scorer on the hour mark and scrum-half Mark Sutton tagging on the sixth try late on.

Tomás Quinlan was Con's 14-point goal-kicking hero as they knocked table toppers Lansdowne out of the running.

The ice-cool Quinlan converted an 82nd minute penalty to guide Constitution to a gripping 19-16 semi-final victory on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch.

Lansdowne led at the interval, but three Quinlan penalties had the Leesiders just 10-9 down. Deasy had turned a 22nd-minute scrum penalty into three points.

It was end-to-end stuff in the second-half, Constitution briefly seizing control thanks to Liam O'Connell's 53rd-minute try before Deasy answered back from the tee just two minutes later.

Extra-time was looming when Deasy found the target with a 75th minute penalty to square things up at 16-16, but Quinlan held his nerve at the death to snatch victory.

Meanwhile, Garryowen will meet Limerick rivals UL Bohs in the promotion/relegation play-off.

Irish Independent

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