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Stunning try from Ireland U20 French sets Con on their way to decider with Clontarf

Cork Con saw off Trinity at Temple Hill on Sunday, while UCC took a step closer to Division 1A safety.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A SEMI-FINAL:

CORK CONSTITUTION 23 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 3, Temple Hill

IRELAND U20 STARLET Sean French’s timely try on the stroke of half-time helped to catapult Cork Constitution to a 23-3 semi-final win over Trinity at Temple Hill.

Brian Hickey’s table-toppers will contest Con’s fourth successive league final, clashing with Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium next Sunday (kick-off 3pm) in a repeat of the 2017 decider which they won 25-21.

Trinity had a busy build-up to their historic semi-final appearance, with their U20s retaining the Fraser McMullen Cup last weekend and 14 members of today’s senior matchday squad taking exams yesterday before boarding the bus for Cork. They had high hopes of putting it up to Con having defeated them 37-13 at College Park last month when the league leaders were down a few bodies.

Luke Cahill and Rob Jermyn celebrate after the game Luke Cahill and Rob Jermyn celebrate after the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A breathless first quarter produced only one score, a well-struck 18th-minute penalty from the students’ out-half Micheal O’Kennedy who rifled over from the edge of the 22. His opposite number Aidan Moynihan levelled with his first place-kick of the afternoon in the 27th minute, and then added a second for a hard-earned lead.

Hickey’s charges struck a big blow in the first half’s final play to go 13-3 in front. Profiting from a turnover on the Trinity 10-metre line, Grand Slam winner French was fed on the right wing by Shane Daly’s looping pass and he jinked past O’Kennedy, collected his own kick on the bounce and weaved in past James Hickey to score a classy solo try. Moynihan’s conversion opened up a 10-point buffer.

Tony Smeeth’s youngsters fell further behind courtesy of Moynihan’s third penalty success, just two minutes after the restart. A critical period came during the third quarter when Con had a one-man advantage due to Trinity number eight Niall O’Riordan’s sin-binning for a no-arms tackle.

Credit to the 14-man students, they managed to create their best opportunity as captain Colm Hogan embarked on a thrilling run through the middle. It led to a penalty deep inside the Con 22, but usually-reliable hooker Dan Sheehan could not connect with his jumper at the lineout and Con’s ambition was evident in the manner of their counter-attack involving French.

Brian Hayes with Michael Sylvester Brian Hayes attempts to tackle Michael Sylvester. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Con’s progression through to the final was underpinned by a powerful defensive display which kept Trinity frustratingly on just three points. The outcome was decided on the hour mark when Munster’s Shane Daly dislodged possession from Philip Murphy with a man-and-ball tackle, allowing Rob Jermyn to dribble through and the onrushing Moynihan kicked ahead before winning the race to touch down. He converted to complete his handsome 18-point haul.

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Sean French, Aidan Moynihan; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 2; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 3
Dublin University: Pen: Micheal O’Kennedy

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Sean French, Shane Daly, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Joe McSwiney, Kevin Sheahan, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Patrick Casey, Brendan Quinlan, James Murphy, Alex McHenry, Ross O’Neill, Duncan Williams, Jonathan Wren.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Colm Hogan (capt), James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Jack Kelly; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Aziz Naser, Bart Vermeulen, Arthur Greene, Conor Lowndes, James Fennelly, Rob Russell.

Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFFS ROUND-UP

James Taylor celebrates scoring a try UCC out-half James Taylor. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

UCC’s points machine James Taylor scored a try and kicked 12 points as they completed the first part of their mission to avoid relegation from All-Ireland League Division 1A. They will have home advantage in next Saturday’s play-off final against either Old Wesley.

In today’s play-off semi-final at Energia Park, Morgan Lennon’s Wesley team outlasted Naas after 100-plus absorbing minutes of hugely-committed and entertaining rugby to prevail 20-17. Replacement Josh Miller’s extra-time penalty was the difference between the sides. Naas player-coach Johne Murphy is stepping down after four seasons in charge of the Cobras.

Notably, three of the weekend’s four promotion/relegation play-off deciders were won by away teams. Clonmel will join Round Robin winners Enniscorthy in Division 2C next season following a gritty 15-12 win at Seapoint. Dylan Cadogan’s coolly-struck last-minute penalty saw the south Tipperary club secure a historic All-Ireland League place.

Navan’s stunning rise up the divisions continued with their third promotion in as many years, which was sealed by a 34-19 triumph over Queen’s University. They finished sixth in Division 2C in 2016, but a league title and two play-off final wins have followed under Alan Kingsley, firstly, and now Ray Moloney. They booked a Division 1B berth thanks to tries from James McInerney (2), Willie Staunton and Leigh Jackson, as well as a penalty try.

A late Staunton penalty denied Rainey Old Boys promotion to the third tier last year, but the Magherafelt club will compete in Division 2A next season. First-half tries from Oisin Quinn, Brad Roberts and Michael O’Neill inspired their 35-21 win at Stradbrook, which demoted a Blackrock side which has James Blaney coming on board as their new head coach.

Two years on from gaining senior status, Malahide blitzed Bruff 36-13 at Kilballyowen Park to ensure Division 2B rugby at Estuary Road come the autumn. Marcus McAllister saved the best for last, intercepting a loose ball on halfway, darting downfield and throwing an outstanding offload behind his back to send fellow winger Daniel Hayes over for the Dubliners’ fifth and final try.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – WEEKEND RESULTS:

DIVISION 1A SEMI-FINALS:

CLONTARF 23 LANSDOWNE 15, Castle Avenue — FULL REPORT HERE

Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Matt D’Arcy, Sean O’Brien, Michael Courtney; Con: David Joyce; Pens: David Joyce 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Daniel McEvoy, Penalty try; Con: Pen try con; Pen: Scott Deasy

CLONTARF: Jack Power; Michael Courtney, Sean O’Brien, Matt D’Arcy, Mick McGrath; David Joyce, Angus Lloyd; Ivan Soroka, Paddy Finlay, Royce Burke-Flynn, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly, Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone (capt).

Replacements: Declan Adamson, Tom Ryan, Niall Carson, Andrew Feeney, Conor Kelly, Cian O’Donoghue, Brian Deeny.

LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Peter Sullivan, Foster Horan, Tom Roche, Daniel McEvoy; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Martin Mulhall, Jack Dinneen, Ian Prendiville, David O’Connor, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Tom Murphy, Willie Earle.

Replacements: James Rael, Ntinga Mpiko, Greg McGrath, Joe O’Brien, Aaron Conneely, James Kenny, Harry Brennan.

CORK CONSTITUTION 23 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 3, Temple Hill

Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Sean French, Aidan Moynihan; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 2; Pens: Aidan Moynihan 3
Dublin University: Pen: Micheal O’Kennedy

CORK CONSTITUTION: Liam O’Connell; Sean French, Shane Daly, Niall Kenneally (capt), Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Jason Higgins; Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Dylan Murphy, Brian Hayes, Evan Mintern, Joe McSwiney, Kevin Sheahan, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Patrick Casey, Brendan Quinlan, James Murphy, Alex McHenry, Ross O’Neill, Duncan Williams, Jonathan Wren.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Colm Hogan (capt), James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Jack Kelly; Micheal O’Kennedy, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Aziz Naser, Bart Vermeulen, Arthur Greene, Conor Lowndes, James Fennelly, Rob Russell.

DIVISION 1A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINALS:

UCC 27 MALONE 11, the Mardyke

Scorers: UCC: Tries: James Taylor, Michael Clune, Murray Linn; Cons: James Taylor 3; Pens: James Taylor 2
Malone: Try: Rory Campbell; Pens: Callum Smith 2
HT: UCC 3 Malone 6

UCC: Rob Hedderman; Michael Clune, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Murray Linn; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Paidi McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Cian Barry, Brian O’Mahony, Daire Feeney (capt), John Hodnett, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Fergus Hennessey, Rob Loftus, Richard Thompson, Ryan Murphy, Cian Fitzgerald, Colin Sisk, Adam O’Connor.

MALONE: Andy Bryans; Rory Campbell, Josh Pentland, Nathan Brown, Ben McCaughey; Callum Smith, Shane Kelly; Ben Halliday, Dave Cave, Ricky Greenwood, James McAllister, Stuart Dodington, Joe Dunleavy, Ross Todd (capt), Ryan Clarke.

Replacements: Scott Finlay, Lee Barlow, Josh Davidson, Gary Crawford, Graham Curtis, Mark O’Connor, Matthew Agnew.

OLD WESLEY 20 NAAS 17, Energia Park (after extra-time)

Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Tommy O’Callaghan, Ben Burns; Cons: Rory Stynes 2; Pens: Josh Miller 2
Naas: Tries: Peter Osborne 2; Cons: Peter Osborne 2; Pen: Peter Osborne

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Tommy O’Callaghan, Alan Gaughan, David Poff, Paul Harte (capt); Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan; Conor Maguire, Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann, Conor Barry, Josh Pim, Paul Derham.

Replacements: Craig Telford, Ciaran McHugh, Mark Rowley, Darren Horan, Josh Miller, Alan Jeffares, Lachlan Anderson.

NAAS: Peter Osborne; Fionn Higgins, Johne Murphy, Eoin Walsh, Andy Ellis; Peter Hastie, Richard Fahy; Conor Doyle, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, James Connolly.

Replacements: Cathal Duff, Jack Barry, Peter King, Niall Delahunt, Cillian Dempsey, Ruadhan McDonnell, Fionn Carr.

DIVISION 1B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

Navan 34 Queen’s University 19, Balreask Old

DIVISION 2A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

Blackrock College 21 Rainey Old Boys 35, Stradbrook

DIVISION 2B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

Bruff 13 Malahide 36, Kilballyowen Park

DIVISION 2C PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

Seapoint 12 Clonmel 15, Kilbogget Park

Cormac Daly celebrates turning over a scrum Clontarf and Cormac Daly will meet Cork Con in this year's Division 1A decider. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISIONAL RUNDOWN:

DIVISION 1A:

All-Ireland League champions: Clontarf v Cork Constitution (Final, Aviva Stadium, 3pm, Sunday, May 5)

Division 1A promotion/relegation play-off winners: UCC/Old Wesley (Final, the Mardyke, 2.30pm, Saturday, May 4)

Relegated: Shannon (automatic)

10 Division 1A clubs for next season: Cork Constitution, Clontarf, Lansdowne, Dublin University, Garryowen, UCD, Young Munster, Terenure College, Ballynahinch, One from UCC/Old Wesley

DIVISION 1B:

Division 1B champions/Promoted: Ballynahinch

Division 1B promotion/relegation play-off winners: Navan (promoted)

Relegated: Ballymena (automatic), Buccaneers (via play-offs)

10 Division 1B clubs for next season: One from UCC/Old Wesley, Naas, Shannon, Malone, Banbridge, St. Mary’s College, Old Belvedere, City of Armagh, Highfield, Navan

DIVISION 2A:

Division 2A champions/Promoted: Highfield

Division 2A promotion/relegation play-off winners: Rainey Old Boys (promoted)

Relegated: Galwegians (automatic), Blackrock College (via play-offs)

10 Division 2A clubs for next season: Buccaneers, Ballymena, Cashel, Queen’s University, UL Bohemians, Old Crescent, Dolphin, Nenagh Ormond, MU Barnhall, Rainey Old Boys

DIVISION 2B:

Division 2B champions/Promoted: MU Barnhall

Division 2B promotion/relegation play-off winners: Malahide (promoted)

Relegated: Sunday’s Well (automatic), Skerries (via play-offs)

10 Division 2B clubs for next season: Blackrock College, Galwegians, Greystones, Sligo, Dungannon, Galway Corinthians, Wanderers, Belfast Harlequins, Ballina, Malahide

DIVISION 2C:

Division 2C champions/Promoted: Ballina

All-Ireland Provincial League champions/Promoted: Enniscorthy

Relegated: Thomond (automatic), Seapoint (via play-offs)

10 Division 2C clubs for next season: Skerries, Sunday’s Well, Midleton, Bruff, Omagh, City of Derry, Tullamore, Bangor, Enniscorthy, Clonmel

ALL-IRELAND PROVINCIAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND ROBIN SERIES:

All-Ireland Provincial League champions/Promoted: Enniscorthy

Runners-up/Promoted: Clonmel (via a play-off)

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