‘Tarf celebrate title with victory over Baa-baas
Clontarf 43 Barbarians 42
A largely partisan crowd were treated to a wonderful spectacle at Castle Avenue, where newly-crowned AIL champions Clontarf edged out the Barbarians.
This fast-paced encounter was historic not just as it formed part of the Battle of Clontarf 1,000th anniversary celebrations, but because it saw ‘Tarf becoming just the fifth Irish club side to face the Baa-Baas.
Clontarf coach Andy Wood was delighted that his charges were able to match the much-heralded Barbarian style.
“It was a good occasion, true Barbarian style of play, and I think our lads matched them. We played some seriously good rugby there,” the New Zealander said.
After ‘Tarf’s Max McFarland and Baa-Baas lock Hayden Pugh had swapped tries early on, subsequent five-pointers from Darragh Fitzpatrick and Anthony Ryan helped the north Dubliners to take control.
‘Tarf threatened to pull away following a brace of majestic touchdowns by the outstanding Michael McGrath, but the visitors reduced the ‘Tarf lead to three (31-28) by the midway point thanks to tries by Lansdowne’s Charlie Butterworth – one of six Irish-based players in the Baa-Baas squad – and Bryan Rennie.
McFarland registered his team’s seventh try after McGrath completed his hat-trick.
The Barbarians refused to throw in the towel, however, and scores by Ritchie McMasters of Queen’s University and Tom Biggs cut the deficit to the minimum. It was too little, too late for the Baa-Baas, though, and when the league winners medals were presented to the 37-strong squad the celebrations began in earnest.
Clontarf – D Fitzpatrick (T McCoy 31); M McGrath (P du Toit 40), K Lett, E Ryan (M McGrath 61), M McFarland; D Joyce, S Cronin (C Keegan 55); I Hirst (D Hegarty 43 (K Donoghue 61)), C Culleton (C O’Flynn 59), R Burke-Flynn; B Reilly, T Byrne (C O’Keefe h-t); K Moran, A Darcy (L Murphy 66), A Ryan (M Garvey 53).
Barbarians – F Harkness (B Rennie 18); T Biggs, J Shoemark, T Cheeseman, P O’Dwyer (R McMaster 41); C Sweeney, J Grindal (R de la Harpe h-t); L Ward (C McMahon h-t), G Slattery, B Evans (A Jones 53); M Powell, H Pugh; D Schofield (M McCraith 46), C Butterworth (P Synnott 53), W Ryan.
Referee – N Owens (Wales).