AIL: Cork Con lose to late Clontarf try in exciting finish at Temple Hill

The home side picked up two yellow cards and a red but battled bravely to the end
AIL: Cork Con lose to late Clontarf try in exciting finish at Temple Hill

James Murphy charges to the line to score Cork Constitution's first try against Clontarf in the energia All-Ireland League Division 1A at Temple Hill. Picture: Larry Cummins

Cork Constitution 22 Clontarf 29 

CLONTARF showed why they’re the energia All-Ireland League champions with a late, late try to grab all five points as Cork Constitution endured card trouble at Temple Hill on Saturday.

It’s hard enough to beat the holders with 15 players on the pitch throughout, but when you pick up two yellows and a red that difficult job becomes increasingly hazardous as Con found to their cost in a game that was always intriguing without catching fire at the same time.

The main difference between two evenly matched teams was ’Tarf’s driving line-out maul, which led to all 29 points and spells in the sin-bin for a couple of home players.

And, yet, despite their numerical disadvantage, Con worked tirelessly especially from the 57th minute, when flanker Jack Kelleher was shown a second yellow card for a deliberate knock-on and because it was his second time to offend, yellow turned to red.

The game was finely balanced at 15-15, but within minutes the visitors had edged in front on only the second occasion with hooker Dylan Donnellan benefitting from a close-range surge for a try, which Con Kelly converted.

In keeping with Con’s spirited defiance, however, the rivals were level a fourth time, seven minutes later, with the quick-thinking of replacement prop forward Alessandro Heaney leading to a levelling try, converted by Aidan Moynihan.

The 14-men sensed their opportunities and when awarded a penalty after 71 minutes, it gave Moynihan the chance, albeit from a testing position near the 10m line, but his penalty just drifted wide of the right upright.

Typically, the champions, made the most of that close shave and a spell of sustained pressure in the Con 22 ended with centre Michael Courtney darting between the posts for the match-winning try, which Kelly duly converted.

The game also began dramatically with ’Tarf’s power evident in the opening line-out and a try looked certain only for Con to interfere illegally, prompting referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell to reach for his cards and brandish yellow to Moynihan.

 Team captain Aidan Moynihan, Cork Con, under pressure from Clontarf. Picture: Larry Cummins
Team captain Aidan Moynihan, Cork Con, under pressure from Clontarf. Picture: Larry Cummins

A Kelly penalty resulted, Con, no doubt, breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn’t more, and their mood picked up almost immediately as good play by flanker James Murphy and scrum-half Ian Leonard led to an equalising penalty from full-back George Coomber.

It was 3-3 after the opening quarter only for Con to experience more card problems, Kelleher dispatched to the bin for his part in collapsing a maul, which yielded a penalty try for the Dubliners, who led for the second time.

Kelleher’s return coincided with a yellow for Tarf, Courtney tempted to throw a hand at a pass only to knock on and the automatic 10-minute ban, during which Con prospered hugely.

It was the home side’s turn to exert pressure in the visiting 22 and their patience paid off in the shape of a Murphy try at the posts after 32 minutes, Moynihan converting for 10-10.

And they added a second try approaching the interval, Billy Crowley applying the finishing touches to more concerted pummelling of the Tarf line and an unexpected five-point lead on the resumption.

It lasted 13 minutes because number 8 Tony Ryan, who became an ever-growing influence on proceedings, touched down from another close-range sweep with Kelly striking an upright with the conversion, 15-15.

Then came Kelleher’s second yellow and an exciting climax during which the game could have gone either way until Clontarf struck at the death.

Scorers for Cork Con: Tries: J Murphy, B Crowley, A Heaney. Cons: A Moynihan (2). Pen: G Coomber.

Clontarf: Tries: Pen, T Ryan, D Donnellan, M Courtney. Cons: C Kelly (2). Pen: C Kelly.

CORK CONSTITUTION: G Coomber; D Hurley, G Higgins, B Matthews, B Crowley; A Moynihan, captain, I Leonard; B Quinlan, B Scannell, L Masters; E Quilter, C O’Flaherty; J Kelleher, D Hyland, J Murphy.

Subs: M Abbott, A Heaney, S Duffy, M Stafford, H O’Riordan, L Kerr.

CLONTARF: T Bird; H Cooney, M Courtney, M D’Arcy, captain, C O’Donoghue; C Kelly, A Lloyd; I Soroko, D Donnellan, V Abadaladze; F Gilbert, M Kearney; C Daly, T Ryan, C Walsh.

Subs: B Gray, D Bolger, JJ O’Dea, S Owens, S Reilly, B Griffin.

Referee: E Hogan O’Connell (MAR).

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