Wednesday 25 April 2018

Pirates put to sword in return to top flight

Ulster Bank League

Sean Kearns kicks a penalty for St Mary’s during yesterday’s Ulster Bank League win over Garryowen at Templeville Road. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean Kearns kicks a penalty for St Mary’s during yesterday’s Ulster Bank League win over Garryowen at Templeville Road. Photo: Sportsfile Sportsdesk

Buccaneers' first game back in Ulster Bank League's top flight after a 10-year absence ended in a 19-10 defeat to Lansdowne, last season's table-toppers.

It was a league debut at Dubarry Park yesterday for Buccs' new coaching duo of Darin Claasen, who previously assisted the now Hong Kong-based Brett Wilkinson, and Mike McCarthy, the retired Leinster and Ireland lock.

The Pirates gave as good as they got in the first half, only trailing 3-0 to an 18th minute penalty from Lansdowne's lynchpin out-half Scott Deasy.

His opposite number Alan Gaughan missed two efforts in the difficult wet conditions.

Deasy doubled the visitors' lead in the 51st minute before Jack Carty's teenage brother Luke, a new addition to the Connacht Academy, hit back for Buccs with a well-taken drop goal.

The scores were now coming thick and fast, the sides swapping tries just before the hour mark as provincially-capped replacement scrum halves Charlie Rock and Conor McKeon touched down at either end.

The gap remained at three points - 13-10 - until the pressure off the back of a Buccs yellow card led to Deasy landing his third penalty success.

His fourth, coming from a 73rd-minute scrum penalty, sealed the hosts' fate and gave Mike Ruddock's men a winning start to their Division 1A campaign.

Cork Constitution launched their Ulster Bank League title defence with an impressive 30-18 bonus point dismissal of Clontarf at Temple Hill.

In what was a repeat of last May's final, which Constitution won 25-21 thanks to Tomas Quinlan's pinpoint place-kicking, it was tries - four in all - which saw the hosts triumph.

Ireland Sevens squad member Shane Daly sliced open the Clontarf defence for a second minute try, converted by out-half Quinlan.

The north Dubliners, who have James Downey as their new backs coach, bounced back to lead 10-7 by the end of the first quarter, Conor Jennings kicking a penalty and his centre partner Matt D'Arcy nipping over for a try.

However, Quinlan levelled from the tee soon after, and tries from winger Rob Jermyn and Munster 'A'-capped prop Brendan Quinlan just before half-time opened up a slightly flattering 22-10 lead for Brian Hickey's charges.

The second half was more defence-dominated with Quinlan and Jennings swapping penalties, before the former touched down in the corner after a speedy 60th-minute break from full-back Daly.

Meanwhile, Ireland Sevens stars Jimmy O'Brien and Harry McNulty bagged two of UCD's five tries as they signalled their intent for the season ahead with a 39-20 bonus point win at Young Munster.

And at Templeville Road, St Mary's College scored the only points of a tightly-contested second half to run out 13-7 winners over Garryowen

Terenure College kicked off the new league season in style with an eye-catching 24-0 bonus point victory over Dublin University at College Park.

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