Con responded to the challenge of winning crunch game against Young Munster

The Cork club bounced back from the previous week's disappointment in the defeat by Clontarf to stay in the title hunt
Con responded to the challenge of winning crunch game against Young Munster

Max Abbott was among the try scorers for Cork Constitution against Young Munster in energia All-Ireland League Division 1A at Clifford Park.  Pic Larry Cummins.

CORK CONSTITUTION reacted brilliantly to the previous week’s setback against Clontarf with a courageous 27-19 come-from-behind win over Young Munster at Clifford Park at the weekend.

“Our backs were to the wall, but we got ourselves to a place during the week that we were going to fight for everything,” said coach Johnny Holland afterwards.

“No matter how far we were down we were hoping to get a response from our lads and, gladly, we did.

“There were other games during the year where we didn’t get that response, but we did this time and that’s what makes me so proud.” 

Con led 13-7 at half-time following a try from Billy Crowley, converted by captain Aidan Moynihan, who also kicked two penalties.

But, Munsters, who needed a bonus-point win to have a chance of reaching the energia All-Ireland League Division 1A semi-finals, roared back with two quick-fire tries to edge 19-13 in front after 47 minutes.

Con, though, rallied courageously with spirited carries by the back-row of John Forde, Luke Cahill and James Murphy, prop Brendan Quinlan and centre Niall Kenneally to seize the initiative once more.

Kenneally and hooker Max Abbott touched down during an important seven-minute spell, Moynihan adding the extras, to put the pressure back on the Limerick side.

“The leaders in the team really stepped up, but we said before the match that we couldn’t expect them to do it on their own because everyone had to be a leader.

“This is a very hard place to come and Young Munster have had a very good year despite now not making it to the semi-final.

“They’re a club that you would expect to have qualified with a strong set-piece and to come through a test like that is a credit to our fellows.”

Holland stressed the importance of the bench after Con made five changes to their starting 15, including handing a rare start to young tight-head Luke Masters.

“We focused on this because we were going to up the pace a bit and we were going to use everyone, especially with rolling substitutions in this league. That was a massive factor.

“We had some guys left at home and others who could easily have been in the team and wouldn’t have made us weaker.

“It’s a massive squad effort, 21 on the day, and a big squad overall for training which is what you need.” Holland also indicated management had to react to the ’Tarf display.

“I said that to the lads that we were all culpable, players and management, and we made changes not only to the team, but in how we prepared, as well.

“In all, it was a massive club effort because you could see what it meant to the members and it was a huge effort from everyone.

“It was great to see and I think it helped gee our fellows up as well.” 

Now, it all hinges on the last game against already qualified Lansdowne at Temple Hill on Saturday.

“It’s in our own hands and that’s all you want, though it’s still going to be very tough.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a spark out of this and if you can’t do it at home, then you don’t deserve to be in a semi-final.

“So, the plan is to tee the lads up again in the right way and maybe it will drive itself from here.

“I think we have to focus on ourselves, at the same time knowing the threats they pose, a good set-piece and pace out wide,” Holland concluded.

In other games, UCC, preparing for their division 1A two-legged relegation play-off with Ballynahinch, were pipped by a late penalty in a 15-14 defeat by Garryowen at the Mardyke.

Second-half tries from the returning Matthew Bowen and Joe O’Leary, both converted by captain Rob Hedderman, edged the Students ahead only to be caught at the death.

Dolphin left empty-handed despite tries from Ryan Foley and Rob Reardon in an 18-10 loss away to Rainey Old Boys.

And a couple of familiar names are attempting to rejoin the league after losing their senior status in recent years.

Bective Rangers and Instonians qualified for the junior round-robin final with the winners in division 2C next season.

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