Wednesday 18 July 2018

O'Neill leads charge against Garryowen as Terenure stay top


'O'Neill's try under the posts on the half-hour mark came after a yellow card apiece for Garryowen number 10 Jamie Gavin and Terenure flanker Kyle McCoy.' (stock image)
'O'Neill's try under the posts on the half-hour mark came after a yellow card apiece for Garryowen number 10 Jamie Gavin and Terenure flanker Kyle McCoy.' (stock image) Sportsdesk

Two-try outhalf Mark O'Neill was the scoring star for Division 1A leaders Terenure College in their 27-20 home win over Garryowen.

Yesterday's clash at Lakelands Park brought together two of the most impressive teams in the top flight this season - and the skilful O'Neill stamped his authority on the match with a 22-point haul.

O'Neill's try under the posts on the half-hour mark came after a yellow card apiece for Garryowen number 10 Jamie Gavin and Terenure flanker Kyle McCoy. He converted to add to an earlier penalty, but the Light Blues cut the half-time deficit to 10-7 when the returning Gavin broke from halfway to set up a seven-pointer for winger Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham.

However, 'Nure displayed their table-topping form again, scoring at crucial stages in the second half, seizing back control thanks to a try from Leinster prop Oisín Heffernan, 10 minutes in.

Fresh props JP Cooney and JP Phelan were sent on for Garryowen, who replied with a David Johnston penalty, but man-of-the-match O'Neill was quick off the mark to grab a 63rd-minute try and push the lead out to 24-10. Front-rower Phelan piled over seven minutes later to set up a grandstand finish, but the seven-point gap remained in place, O'Neill and Johnston swapping closing penalties which ensured both sides took something out of a bruising game.

Backs coach James Downey was back in the blue and red of Clontarf as they returned to winning ways with a 26-6 bonus-point win at home to Buccaneers.

Hammered last week, 'Tarf called on the 36-year-old Downey, who has dual status as Monkstown player-coach in the Leinster Junior League, to start at centre in his first outing for the Castle Avenue club in 11 years.

Downey, who retired as a professional in 2016, helped 'Tarf take a 12-0 lead into the interval. Buccaneers welcomed back Ireland Sevens star Jordan Conroy from injury.

Outhalves David Joyce and Luke Carty both missed penalty attempts, before Clontarf found their form with a two-try salvo just before half-time. Number 8 Michael Noone powered over for the first try after a series of five-metre scrums. Joyce converted and then Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne added a second try from a well-executed lineout maul.

With winger Conroy's influence growing, Buccs had the better of the exchanges early in the second period. Carty went for goal from inside his own half and nailed the penalty. Following further indiscipline from the 'Tarf defence, he cut the gap to 12-6 with a routine place-kick.

However, the Pirates, who remain without a win after four rounds, were on the receiving end of a double blow straight from the restart. A strong Byrne carry brought the home side into scoring range and then Matt D'Arcy's neat pass put Cian O'Donoghue through for a try in the left corner.

Buccs captain Shane Layden was sin-binned in the aftermath of the score and with Joyce adding the extras, 'Tarf set sail for the finish line. To their credit, the Midlanders never allowed their work-rate to drop and the 69th minute sin-binning of 'Tarf replacement scrum-half Hugh O'Sullivan offered them a potential lifeline.

Nonetheless, Clontarf boss Andy Wood reintroduced Andrew Feeney in the absence of O'Sullivan and he combined brilliantly with Downey to set up a D'Arcy try - his fourth of the campaign - under the posts.

Joyce converted the bonus-point score to round it up to a 20-point winning margin.

Dublin University erased an early 14-point deficit to claim the scalp of Young Munster (21-17) at Tom Clifford Park for the second year in a row.

Trinity turned things around in the second half thanks to tries from David St Leger and Jack Fitzpatrick, along with the place-kicking of Tommy Whittle who finished with 11 points.

Director of rugby Tony Smeeth will hope that yesterday's result can kick-start Trinity's second season in Division 1A, which continues with an October 28 trip to basement rivals Buccaneers - the same day that eighth-placed Munsters travel to defending champions Cork Constitution.

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