Saturday 26 May 2018

Wood hails defence as 'Tarf set up Con decider

Andy Wood:
Andy Wood: "It was fraught, it was hard-earned" Photo: Sportsfile newsdesk

Clontarf coach Andy Wood highlighted his side's defensive efforts in keeping UCD to just one try after their 24-10 Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final win over the students.

The two teams with the meanest defences in the top flight this season - Clontarf and Cork Constitution - will meet in the May 8 final at the Aviva Stadium and Wood was delighted to see his charges reach their second successive league decider.

"We certainly had to work hard in defence. UCD had the majority of territory and ball, so we had to defend for huge periods. It was fraught, it was hard-earned, so I'm just pleased (to win)," said the New Zealander.

"I've got to give credit to Simon Broughton, who is our attack coach and skills coach, and Aaron Dundon, who does set-piece and the contact work. You can see the fruits of that coming into play here. The guys over the ball (the likes of Karl Moran and Tom Byrne) kept UCD very, very honest, and gave us time to realign as well."

Wood also spoke about the clinical nature of Clontarf's attack, the pick of their four tries being a magical move involving several players that ended with Leinster winger Mick McGrath reaching over in the left corner for his 14th touchdown of the campaign.

Early scores from Bryan Byrne and McGrath left UCD trailing 10-3 at half-time and the visitors leaked a third score to Michael Noone by the hour mark.

Barry Daly's 64th-minute effort, coupled with the sin-binning of Moran four minutes later, got the students back in contention before 'Tarf replacement Evan Ryan slammed the door shut in injury-time.


Constitution booked their final berth with a late two-try salvo as they overcame Young Munster 22-16 at Temple Hill. A third successive scrum penalty yielded an 80th-minute penalty try for the Leesiders and centre Niall Kenneally completed his brace in injury-time.

Kenneally's sixth-minute try had Brian Hickey's men leading 7-3 at the break before the large crowd watched Munsters have the better of the third quarter as Gearoid Lyons landed two penalties to a single effort from Tomas Quinlan.

With Con hooker Max Abbott in the sin-bin, centre Lyons made 60 metres on a superb run from deep and Abrie Griesel's subsequent skip pass released full-back Craig O'Hanlon to go over in the corner. Lyons converted and suddenly the Cookies, who suffered semi-final heartbreak against Lansdowne last year, held a 16-10 advantage.

However, Con, who face Galwegians in Saturday's Bateman Cup final, kept their All-Ireland double dreams alive with a storming finish. Two yellow cards in quick succession left Munsters without two forwards and the hosts took full advantage, their scrum getting on top for the penalty try before Kenneally had the final say.

Ballynahinch will host Dublin University in next Saturday's Division 1A relegation/promotion play-off final, while Sunday's Well and Wanderers trumped Greystones and Tullamore in their play-off finals to gain promotion to 2A and 2B respectively.

Irish Independent

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