Dublin University 37 -13 Cork Con, College Park
Dublin University took a step closer to a historic All-Ireland League semi-final place with an emphatic bonus point win over Division 1A leaders Cork Constitution.
Trailing 10-5 early on in the second half, Tony Smeeth’s Trinity side turned on the style in ruthless fashion to claim Con’s scalp and strengthen their grip on fourth spot, moving six points ahead of Garryowen with just two rounds remaining in the regular season.
Two of the Ireland Under-20s’ Grand Slam winners, Rob Russell and Ryan Baird, started for the students who largely controlled possession inside the Con half. Micheal O’Kennedy was off target with an early penalty, and just when it looked like the visitors would strike from a lineout, Trinity scrum half Rowan Osborne executed a brilliant turnover, broke forward and released Ronan Quinn for a slick finish on the left wing.
Despite another maul effort failing to produce a score, Aidan Moynihan narrowed the gap with a routine penalty for a 5-3 scoreline. The two-point gap remained in place as number 8 Niall O’Riordan was just short of the Con line following a lung-busting run from deep, while James Hickey and captain Colm Hogan were particularly prominent in the Trinity attack on the resumption.
Nonetheless, with 48 minutes on the clock, Con winger Billy Crowley’s powerful surge gave the visitors a foothold and when play was transferred across to the left, centre Alex McHenry sidestepped his way over the whitewash for their only try. Moynihan converted for a 10-5 lead but Smeeth’s charges were soon running riot at the other end. Russell jinked over for their second try, having raced onto a Hogan pass.
O’Kennedy converted and had the tee again just shy of the hour mark, converting Osborne’s clinical score from a Dan Sheehan offload and a strong initial carry by Max Kearney. Moynihan responded with a penalty, only for flanker Kearney’s exceptional build-up play to give Trinity further momentum and he set up prop Giuseppe Coyne for a 65th-minute converted try.
Cork Con, who remain on course for a home semi-final, missed the influence of skipper Niall Kenneally and fell further behind after yellow cards for forwards Ross O’Neill and Dylan Murphy. O’Kennedy knocked over a penalty and Quinn completed his brace before either of the sin-binned players returned. Replacement James Fennelly rounded off a memorable day for Smeeth’s young guns with a closing penalty.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan (capt); Rob Russell, Luis Faria, James Hickey, Ronan Quinn; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Ryan Baird, Reuben Pim, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Bart Vermeulen, Cian O’Dwyer, Conor Lowndes, James Fennelly.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Billy Crowley, Alex McHenry, Greg Higgins, Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Kevin Sheahan, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Brendan Quinlan, Patrick Casey, Dave Hyland, Gary Bradley, Jack Costigan.