Terenure close in on semi-final with win over Cork Con
With Clontarf slipping up at St Mary's on Friday night, Terenure College closed in on a home semi-final in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A with a well-judged 20-8 win away to Cork Constitution.
'Nure were unbeatable earlier in the season and they recaptured some of their best form with a 20-point first-half display at Temple Hill, as James O'Donoghue, Robert Duke and Harry Moore all ran in tries.
The result saw James Blaney's men tighten their grip on second spot. They now hold a seven-point lead over third-placed Clontarf with just three rounds remaining.
Terenure made full use of their early wind advantage on Leeside, with outhalf James Thornton landing a second-minute penalty. Then a quick tap set up right winger O'Donoghue for a try in the corner. Impressive flanker Robert Duke scored for the second week running, charging through from halfway to touch down to the right of the posts, and free-scoring winger Harry Moore grabbed his ninth try of the campaign to make it 20-0.
An unconverted effort from Munster Academy member Darren Sweetnam reduced the arrears for Con to 15 points, but the visitors always looked in control despite Tomás Quinlan tagging on a 55th-minute penalty.
Apart from retaining the Munster Senior Cup, it has been an up and down 2015 so far for Cork Constitution. Certainly, it was a weekend of mixed emotions for their head coach Tom Tierney as this defeat came less than 24 hours after his Ireland Women's team beat world champions England in Ashbourne.
The Leesiders have a fight on their hands to reach the play-offs as they still have to travel to leaders Lansdowne and reigning champions Clontarf, and host UCD in the final round in April.
Cork Con have been leapfrogged by Ballynahinch into fourth in the table following the Co Down club's hard-fought 18-16 victory over UCD at Ballymacarn Park.
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Three well-struck penalties from outhalf Liam Bourke had the students leading 9-7 at half-time, but 'Hinch scored at crucial stages in the second half with Chris Quinn converting two penalties and fellow winger Ross Adair scoring a try. The elusive Adair had a second effort ruled out in the dying minutes.
Young Munster won for the first time in six league outings as they ran out comfortable 24-9 winners of their basement battle with Dolphin at Tom Clifford Park.
Bottom side Dolphin were the form team coming into this encounter, but Munsters raised their game significantly from recent weeks to bag a precious bonus point and move above Old Belvedere into eighth place.
The Corkmen had the benefit of a strong wind in the opening half and two long-range penalties from outhalf Rory Scannell gave them an early advantage. Scannell's third successful penalty, after he was caught with a high tackle, proved to be Dolphin's final score.
Young Munster broke into a 17-9 lead for half-time thanks to tries from Rob Guerin, Darren Gallagher and Kolio Hifo, with the latter one coming after Dolphin lock Chris Rowe was sin-binned in the 38th minute.
Dolphin almost got in for a try but winger Rob Rearden was brought down near the line and the visitors suffered another blow nine minutes from the end when prop James Rochford was yellow-carded. It was all about the bonus point at this stage but Young Munster had to wait until the 78th minute when hooker Ger Slattery touched down and Willie Staunton, a steadying presence at outhalf, added his second conversion of the afternoon.
The defeat leaves Dolphin precariously placed in the automatic relegation spot, some eight points adrift of second-from-bottom 'Belvo, with a must-win trip to Clontarf to come next Saturday.
'Tarf themselves slumped to a disappointing 21-17 defeat to St Mary's at Templeville Road on Friday night. Seventh-placed Mary's may still be battling relegation but are only four points adrift of 'Hinch in the fourth play-off position.
Peter Smyth's charges were hammered 44-15 by Clontarf in early January, but they turned the tables on the title holders. With a big wind behind them, Mary's burst into a 21-3 interval lead thanks to 11 points from Ray Crotty's boot and tries from Brian McGovern and Ryan O'Loughlin, who finished off an excellent team score.
Clontarf capitalised on Mary's indiscipline to run in tries through Rob Keogh and Ireland Club international captain Matt D'Arcy. However, despite being down to 13 men, the home side hung on to win by a four-point margin.
Beaten by UCD last week, table-topping Lansdowne battled their way a 17-13 victory at Old Belvedere. Tom Farrell's 51st-minute score split the sides at the end of a keenly-contested game. 'Belvo cancelled out an early Aaron Conneely effort with tries from Jonathan Slattery and goal-kicker Josh Glynn, but were left to rue two missed conversions and two missed penalties.
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