CORK CON coach Paul Barr knows enough about the dynamics of Limerick rugby to know that they were going to get a hot reception from Garryowen in Dooradoyle on Saturday afternoon.
The Light Blues had lost a Shannonside derby to their arch-rivals Young Munster the weekend prior to this game and were demanding a response. Then again, Con was also demanding a reply following their surprise reversal to UCD last time out.
But Garryowen didn’t get a response, not on the scoreboard anyway, with JJ O’Neill crossing the line twice and Aidan Moynihan touching down early in the game at a windswept Dooradoyle.
Moynihan struck after three minutes and O’Neill dotted down twice in either half. Peader Collins contributed all of Garryowen’s points with a try and conversion in the opening 40 minutes before O’Neill edged his side back in front on the stroke of half time.
”Both teams played well in really difficult conditions out there, said Barr. “It was difficult for both sides; a wet ball, a lot of wind, rain.
“I thought both teams really had a cut off of that one. Into the breeze, we probably did enough. Getting the second score at half time made it very hard for Garryowen. They had to turn into the breeze.
“That score right on half time was probably the difference in the game. It was a great start with an early try. The players felt that they needed to bounce back after last weekend.
“I think there was really good intensity in the opening couple of plays and I thought we played very well and took that try very well.
“This (Garryowen) is a great club and I think that Con and Garryowen have a rivalry going back a very long time. You never get an easy game against Garryowen. You just don’t get them, they don’t occur.
“That’s what makes it great. Today we were eight points clear at the end. But even still, it was extremely tight. There was a lot of big moments. When you play that kind of rugby there are always key moments.
“Maybe we had one or two more (key moments) than they did. I think the conditions were a factor, but the players on both sides went about their jobs with real commitment. I think it was a great spectacle in the conditions.”
Con started the game with intent. On three occasions they went through 10 and 13 phases of possession - and the table toppers are not looking too far ahead going in the final run in.
“Into the wind, we had to keep that level of control and possession,” added Barr. “The key is that Garryowen had a great kicking game and we had to keep the ball for long stretches.
“We were playing into the breeze. I think that the first half performance was critical considering the conditions.
“We decided to focus on every match. I don’t think we’ve looked at the league table once collectively, maybe the players have. We just look at the next team and how hard we have to work.
“That’s the point of focus really. The table looks after itself if you look after the next match. We’re very happy with the result today, delighted. To get a win here is huge and we’re really happy with it.”