Cork Con suffer blow to league semi-final ambitions as Clontarf triumph at Temple Hill

Con fell 24-0 down early in the second-half after the league leaders showased their talents in the ideal conditions
Cork Con suffer blow to league semi-final ambitions as Clontarf triumph at Temple Hill

JJ O'Neill, Cork Con, is tackled by Clontarf's Cian O'Donoghue, during their Engeria AIL division 1A league match against Clontarf at Temple Hill. Picture Dan Linehan

Cork Constitution 12 Clontarf 24 

CLONTARF showed why they’ve occupied top slot in energia All-Ireland League Division 1A all season with an impressive win over Cork Constitution in a bruising tie at Temple Hill on Saturday.

Set-piece dominance formed the central plank of the visitors’ victory, which is a set-back, but not fatal, to Con’s semi-finals hopes with two games remaining.

The towering presence of the outstanding Alekseiy Soroko, Fionn Gilbert and Cormac Daly caused problems at line-out time for the Cork side, whose difficulties in the scrum compounded their position.

And when Con managed to get their mitts on the ball for any concerted period, they found the visiting defence an almost impregnable fortress to breach.

It was as physical as a game you’d witness in the top tier of the club game, notably at the breakdown with every ruck contested with feverish intensity.

Playing against the strong wind from the start, Con would have been pleased enough at conceding just a penalty to out-half Conor Kelly in the 19th minute.

The pressure, though, told with the opening try just before the half-hour as Clontarf won a scrum penalty and opted for the corner.

Ed Brennan broke from the line-out only to be stopped short of the line, but Tarf remained calm and eventually, Soroka got over near the posts for Kelly to convert, 10-0.

 Former Irish international Noel Murphy watching at Temple Hill. Picture: Dan Linehan
Former Irish international Noel Murphy watching at Temple Hill. Picture: Dan Linehan

Five minutes later, Con fell further behind as their opponents took a quick tap penalty and backed themselves from halfway, displaying good handling and support play for Matt D’Arcy to send centre colleague Michael Brown in on the right for their second try, which Kelly converted expertly from the touchline.

A 17-point half-time deficit represented a daunting challenge, but Con’s precarious situation worsened with an intercept try from wing Cian O’Donoghue, who raced away from his own 22 in the 55th minute to cross between the posts. Kelly converted for 24-0.

Credit Con, though, for battling to the bitter end, Alex McHenry beginning a revival with an intercept try of his own after 66 minutes, Aidan Moynihan converting.

John Forde broke through for a second in the right corner, a couple of minutes from the end of normal time, to offer a slight hope of a losing bonus point.

Replacement Matisse Lamarque d’Arrouzat carried brilliantly, but the move fizzled out.

 Cork Con scrum-half Duncan Williams getting the ball back from Niall Kenneally. Picture: Dan Linehan
Cork Con scrum-half Duncan Williams getting the ball back from Niall Kenneally. Picture: Dan Linehan

Scorers for Cork Con: Tries: A McHenry and J Forde Con: A Moynihan.

Clontarf: Tries: A Soroka, M Brown and C O’Donoghue.

CORK CONSTITUTION: J Crowley; JJ O’Neill, A McHenry, N Kenneally, S French; A Moynihan, captain, D Williams; B Quinlan, M Abbott, R Burke; C Barry, C Kindregan; J Forde, L Cahill, J Murphy.

Subs: L McAuliffe, P Casey, E Quilter, M Lamargue d’Arrouzat, G Hurley, R Jermyn.

CLONTARF: T Bird; S Reilly-Ashiru, M Brow, M D’Arcy, C O’Donoghue; C Kelly, A Lloyd; I Soroko, D Donnellan, B Griffin; C Daly, F Gilbert; A Soroko, T Ryan, E Brennan.

Subs: C O’Flynn, D Bolger, J Horgan, A Feeney, B Woods, V Gavin.

Referee: G Clancy (MAR).

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