AFTER last week’s thrillingly open high-scoring AIL encounter away to UCD; UCC played out a much tighter, grittier game against high-flying Young Munster.
The Cookies power up front proved decisive as they now remain the only unbeaten side in Division 1A of the Energia All Ireland League.
UCC had scored five tries the prior week; including a Matthew Bowen hat-trick, but the concession of six tries meant a try bonus was their consolation from that match. This weekend; there was a big focus on defence and territory this time against a powerful Limerick outfit but in the end, they came up just short.
College were particularly ferocious around the break-down which saw them win a lot of penalties on Young Munster ball. Playing so close to the edge meant they also conceded several penalties at crucial stages. Finn Burke and Alex Kendellen were never far away from the breakdown battle while the students’ hard-tackling intent was epitomised by the centres Daniel Squires and Darragh French.
While UCC were mostly chasing the game and rarely seemed in a position to win; they will feel they at least deserved a bonus point. Squires, who kicked three solid penalties narrowly missed a tricky long-range penalty late on to get back into bonus-point territory; but he would be more disappointed with a much earlier effort inside the 22 that he completely miskicked.
UCC showed their intentions from the kick-off; as they chased a Louis Kahn box-kick and swarmed over Conor Hayes to win a penalty. Squires slotted over but this was immediately cancelled out by an Evan Cusack effort at the other end.
Try scoring chances were rare in the first half; with one notable opportunity for each side that both saw the wingers run out of space by the touch-line just metres short. The Limerick side did hold a 9-3 advantage at the break courtesy of two further Cusack penalties.
The Young Munster scrum upped a gear in the second half; as they regularly demolished the UCC pack. However; College’s stern defence was immense; regularly forcing turnovers before pressure could mount. At the other end, they managed to win some penalties again at the breakdown and Squires reduced the deficit to three points with two successful kicks.
However; the scrum pressure finally told with replacement prop Corey Hanlon yellow card for the Cork side around the 55-minute mark. Young Munster used this period to pin UCC back and finally got over the line. From a line-out close-in; Tom Goggin secured possession and his pack powered forward with Mark O’Mara touching down. Cusack added the extras to secure victory for the Limerick men.
: D Squires 3 pens.
: M O’Mara try; E Cusack 4 pens, con.
G Coomber; L Bruce, D French, D Squires, M Bowen; C Whooley, L Kahn; A Hennessey, S Buckley. J French; J Kelleher (c), S O’Sullivan; J O’Sullivan, F Burke, A Kendellen.
B Kingston, C Hanlon, P McBarron, M Cogan, B Kiernan, L Kerr.
C Hayes; J Harrington, P Ryan, H Fleming, S McCarthy; E Cusack, J Lyons; D Begley, M O’Mara, C Bartley; E O’Connor, S Rigney; A Kennedy (c), J Foley, D Walsh.
M Doran, C Skehan, T Goggin, B Faloon, A Maher, C Nash.
R O’Sullivan (IRFU).