Ulster Bank League Division 1A review


Brothers Liam and Neil Cronin combined for 12 points as Garryowen made it three league wins on the bounce with a 17-0 dismissal of UCD at the Belfield Bowl.

Hooker Liam’s converted try from a maul on the stroke of half-time ensured the opening half did not end without a score. Wearing navy jerseys, UCD avoided an early concession when Garryowen captain Neil Cronin missed a penalty and play swung quickly between the 22s as both sides were full of running.

The students were denied by a couple of knock-ons in scoring range, while winger Steven Kilgallen, who is part of the Ireland Students squad this season, had one terrific kick return as he broke from halfway up into the visitors’ 22. The hosts lost Nick Peters to injury, with his half-back partner Matthew Gilsenan knocking a late penalty effort wide of the target.

With Andy Keating on at tighthead for JP Cooney, the Light Blues’ driving play proved unstoppable in the dying minutes as hooker Cronin broke the deadlock out wide. His older brother converted for a 7-0 lead and also ended a long scoreless spell in the second period, landing a 69th minute penalty after UCD tighthead Jeremy Loughman was sin-binned for scrum infringements.

Turnovers and handling errors had blighted both attacks, with Garryowen’s lineout also misfiring, but it came good again with a minute left on the clock. Ireland Under-20 hooker Diarmuid Barron was driven over from a rolling maul five metres out, with Cronin tagging on the right-sided conversion to complete the scoring.

Conan Doyle’s charges stay fourth in the top flight standings, with a four-point buffer over Limerick rivals Young Munster. Meanwhile, UCD’s sixth defeat in seven games has drawn them closer to the relegation battle below them. They are still seventh overall, but Dublin University and St. Mary’s College are within a five-point range.


Young Munster enhanced their chances of a top-four finish as they overcame Munster rivals Cork Constitution 15-11 in a cracking encounter at Tom Clifford Park this afternoon.

Munsters have climbed into fifth place after their fifth victory on the bounce, and they continue to be something of a ‘bogey’ team for Cork Constitution who now have lost their last four league meetings with the Cookies.

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Con, who began the round in second place, laid down a marker at Greenfields by winning three early scrum penalties, with their front row, which included Munster hooker Kevin O’Byrne, earning the plaudits.

The visitors lost winger Michael Clune to the sin-bin for taking a player out in the air, but it was not until the half hour mark that Munsters out-half Shane Airey opened the scoring with a crisply-struck penalty.

Tomas Quinlan replied with one of his own to make it three points apiece at half-time, but the Cookies broke the try deadlock six minutes into the second half. Their forwards took it to Con, sucking in defenders before lovely hands across the backs saw a long pass bounce up for influential full-back Alan Tynan to squeeze over in the left corner.

Con showed the necessary composure, drawing a penalty which Quinlan fired over to make it 8-6 before they started the final quarter in ideal fashion, O’Byrne setting up experienced scrum half Gerry Hurley for the game’s second unconverted try.

Munsters could have opted for the posts in pursuit of a draw, but instead they went for the win in the closing stages and that decision paid off with number 8 Gavin Coombes – the pick of the back rowers on show – muscling over for a late match-winning try. Airey’s conversion made it a four-point winning margin.


Dublin University climbed out of the bottom two with a determined 21-17 comeback victory over Buccaneers at College Park today.

Replacement out-half Tommy Whittle held his nerve to land two penalties, which proved to be the second half’s only scores, as the students prevailed in a tightly-contested basement battle.

Winless in the last four rounds, bottom side Buccaneers burst out of the traps at the city centre venue with two early tries. An interception and a bout of sustained forward pressure yielded scores for lock Cian Romaine and Connacht-capped scrum half Conor McKeon, who added both conversions for a 14-0 lead.

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American recruit Alex McDonald provided the inspiration for Trinity, showing impressive pace for a second row to run in a try from close to halfway. Jack McDermott converted and swapped penalties with McKeon, before the home pack struck for a try from a maul closing in on half-time – flanker Sam Pim was the scorer.

The missed conversion kept Buccs in front at 17-15, and two points remained the margin as a stalemate ensued in the second period. With the result being of huge significant to both sides, there were some bone-crunching tackles and absorbing passages of play as both defences were thoroughly tested.

Tony Smeeth’s youngsters managed to turn the screw when Whittle planted his first penalty through the posts, and a second one just five minutes later meant Buccs were suddenly four points in arrears. The slice of luck which has evaded the Pirates for much of the season was missing again as Trinity hung on, their resolute defence summed up by the tackling of captain Michael Courtney and Kyle Dixon in midfield.


Scott Deasy landed a trio of unanswered second half penalties to guide Division 1A leaders Lansdowne past St. Mary’s College on a 16-9 scoreline on Friday night.

Mike Ruddock’s men got back to winning ways after losing their 12-match unbeaten record to Garryowen last time out, but St. Mary’s, who are now second-from-bottom in the table and fighting off relegation trouble, made it a difficult night for the top flight pacesetters.

After the visitors hit the front through the reliable boot of out-half Sean Kearns in the sixth minute, Lansdowne released winger Daniel McEvoy who celebrated his call-up to the Ireland Club International squad with a typically well-taken try, converted by number 10 Deasy.

Defences were on top for the remainder of the first half, with Mary’s visibly growing in stature and confidence as two more penalties from Kearns gave Peter Burke’s side a 9-7 interval lead. The forwards scrapped ferociously for possession in the third quarter, before Mary’s belatedly faltered in the final quarter. Their indiscipline allowed Deasy to swoop for the points thanks to his sure-footed place-kicking.

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Terenure College boosted their hopes of claiming a home semi-final with a gritty late 19-18 win over fellow play-off rivals Clontarf at Lakelands Park on Friday.

Terenure moved above Cork Constitution into second place after flanker Harrison Brewer’s 73rd-minute try, with Jake Swaine adding the crucial conversion, stung a ‘Tarf side that had dominated the early stages of the second half.

Connacht Academy full-back Matthew Byrne touched down out wide in the 27th minute, adding to winger Sam Coghlan Murray’s 10th-minute effort, as Terenure built a 12-6 half-time advantage. A brace of penalties from out-half David Joyce kept the north Dubliners in touch, with his opposite number Mark O’Neill missing two penalty attempts for the hosts.

The hosts were rocked by Tony Ryan’s 46th-minute try, the flanker muscling over after a defence-splitting run from Matt D’Arcy, and the momentum was very much with ‘Tarf when number 8 Michael Noone touched down from a well-worked lineout move, before the hour mark.

However, that one-two punch from the former champions was not enough to kill off Terenure’s challenge, James Blaney’s men built through the phases, in difficult conditions, to tee up Brewer’s match-winning score from close range.