Cork Constitution 21 Lansdowne 17
ALMOST despite themselves at times, Cork Constitution pulled off the required win to book an energia All-Ireland League Division 1A semi-final away to Clontarf following a tense finish against already-qualified Lansdowne at Temple Hill on Saturday.
They didn’t make it easy, but Con got there in the end with five minutes to spare after a winning try from an unlikely source Frenchman Matisse Lamarque, who crossed for his first in the competition.
Having trailed 17-7 at the interval, Con thundered back into the game with a Cian Barry try, finishing off good approach play though the centre by Sean French, four minutes on the resumption.
But, there were many fretful moments thereafter, including a sin-bin just moments later, when Max Abbott couldn’t resist an intercept close to his own line but knocked-on in the process and duly saw yellow.
The 14-men, though, defended manfully as Lansdowne tried for an opening only to be met by defiant tackling before Con took over, helped by a dominant scrum in which Rory Burke was destroyer-in-chief.
Yet, the Cork side squandered promising situations with poor handling and line-out inaccuracy on occasions, too, but their perseverance paid off with Lamarque’s priceless try.
Con also started well, JJ O’Neill brilliantly fielding Aidan Moynihan’s kick-off and while it took them 13 minutes to capitalise, Niall Kenneally’s try off a line-out was the least they deserved.
It took Lansdowne all of 17 minutes to register their first attack of note, but once they got within sight of the home try line, the visitors were ruthless.
Sustained pressure yielded a try out wide for right wing James Reynolds, 7-5, after 25 minutes, and they were gifted a second within four minutes.
Con’s efforts to move the ball through the hands from deep backfired as Andy Marks sent left wing Stephen Madigan in at the corner.
And when the home side couldn’t profit from an overlap down the left approaching half-time, Lansdowne showed how with a brilliant counter-attack from their own 22.
And ironically enough, the move ended with full-back Eamonn Mills, a product of PBC and UCC, touching down at the posts for Ireland U20 out-half Charlie Tector to duly add the extras.
Con had it all to do on the resumption, but those two tries in 30 minutes were enough to the relief and delight of all.