CLONTARF 13 CORK CONSTITUTION 16, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Cian O’Donoghue, Matt D’Arcy; Pen: David Joyce
Cork Constitution: Try: Joe McSwiney; Con: Aidan Moynihan; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 3
HT: Clontarf 5 Cork Constitution 3
Cork Constitution are the new leaders of All-Ireland League Division 1A after ending Clontarf’s six-match winning streak with a stirring 16-13 comeback victory at Castle Avenue on Saturday afternoon.
Armed with a 13-3 advantage inside the final quarter, ‘Tarf looked set to preserve their 100% record this season, but the boot of Aidan Moynihan kept Cork Con in contention and replacement Joe McSwiney’s converted try drew them level before Moynihan landed an injury-time penalty to dramatically take the spoils.
Constitution, who are now two points ahead of the north Dubliners at the summit, suffered an early setback when captain Niall Kenneally was sin-binned. However, winger Alex McHenry proved more than an able deputy in midfield. Out-half Moynihan duly dispatched a 16th minute penalty through the posts to open the scoring.
Moynihan increased his influence with an electrifying break on the all-weather pitch which almost produced a try. He was stopped just short of the line and it was Clontarf who were celebrating the game’s first try in the 25th minute. Angus Lloyd fixed the defence before offloading to explosive winger Cian O’Donoghue who charged over for a cracking unconverted score.
Flanker Tony Ryan led ‘Tarf’s charge for a second try but Con’s industrious defence kept them out, leaving it 5-3 for the break. The home side pressed again early on the resumption as Leinster ‘A’ talent David Hawkshaw sought out Jack Power with an audacious cross-field kick and the full-back was agonisingly close to doubling ‘Tarf’s tally.
Moynihan was wide with a 48th-minute penalty attempt before Clontarf looked to have a firm grip on proceedings. Centre Matt D’Arcy powered over for a 54th minute try from an intricate move off an attacking scrum. Hawkshaw was short with the conversion effort but, a few minutes later, replacement David Joyce fired over a magnificent penalty from inside his own half to make it 13-3.
Nonetheless, Con replacements McSwiney and Brendan Quinlan soon began to make their presence felt. Moynihan was successful with a straightforward 67th-minute penalty, and he added the extras to McSwiney’s powerful finish to the left of the posts which saw ‘Tarf pay the price for a late sin-binning.
Brian Hickey’s men were not content with a share of the spoils and there was time for a final twist in the tale. ‘Tarf appeared to be safe when they were awarded a scrum on their own 22, but Con brilliantly secured a turnover penalty. Moynihan stepped up to the place-kick and his composed strike ensured a very happy bus journey home for last season’s beaten finalists.
CLONTARF: Jack Power; Sean O’Brien, Michael Courtney, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Hawkshaw, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Paddy Finlay, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tony Ryan, Vincent Gavin, Michael Noone (capt).
Replacements: Declan Adamson, Cian Walsh, Martin Kelly, Andrew Feeney, David Joyce.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Alex McHenry, Shane Daly, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Brian Scott, Conor Kindregan, Brian Hayes, Kevin Sheahan, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Dylan Murphy, Brendan Quinlan, Joe McSwiney, Richard Cassidy, Billy Crowley.