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Ben Whitley/INPHO Dublin University celebrate Whittle's smash-and-grab try.
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Dublin University snatch last-gasp try that could be key to their survival hopes
DU pulled clear of the bottom two in Division 1A, with relegation rivals St Mary’s losing to UCD.

Dublin University 21-19 Young Munster

St Mary’s College 7-23 UCD

TOMMY WHITTLE’S LATE converted try could be Dublin University’s most valuable score of the entire Ulster Bank League season after they came from behind to beat Young Munster 21-19 at College Park.

Former Leinster underage player Whittle, who turns 22 on Wednesday, started his birthday celebrations early by coming off the bench to land the match-winning blow for the students in this end-to-end Bank Holiday Monday tie.

Trailing 19-11 in the closing stages, Jack McDermott fired over his third successful penalty and then converted Whittle’s all-important try, as Trinity gave their Division 1A survival hopes a huge boost. They are now six points clear of second-from-bottom St Mary’s with three rounds remaining.

It was not looking good for Tony Smeeth’s side when Munsters, who came to Dublin on the back of a five-match winning streak, cancelled out an initial McDermott penalty with tries from Ger Slattery and promising young full-back Alan Tynan.

Pressure on the Trinity lineout led to experienced hooker Slattery breaking through for the opening try, and the Cookies claimed a second when Tynan scored from a chip and chase effort. 12-3 was a flattering lead though, as the hosts had played most of the rugby in the first half.

Munsters were determined to move back into the top four after some of their rivals had gained recent ground on them, but they were rocked by a Tom Ryan try, via a terrific Kyle Dixon offload, and a McDermott penalty soon made it a one-point game, 12-11.

Tynan completed his brace six minutes later, turning a bout of pressure into seven hard-earned points. But it was not enough in the end as Trinity continue to be a bogey team for Munsters – they have now achieved two season’s doubles over the Limerick men since gaining promotion in 2016.

In Monday’s other game in Division 1A, UCD outscored St. Mary’s College by three tries to one in a lively second half to emerge as 23-7 winners at Templeville Road.

The seventh-placed students climbed away from relegation trouble with their first away victory since November, while Mary’s may not be able to break out of the bottom two, given they have to face title-chasing opposition in each of the final three rounds.

Two penalties from out-half Matthew Gilsenan had UCD leading 6-0 at half-time, and a strong set of phases in sight of the try-line led to flanker number 8 Stephen McVeigh crossing in the 48th minute.

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Mary’s were back in contention four minutes later when right winger Craig Kennedy crossed for a try. The seven-pointer owed much to the swift hands of Ireland U20 international Conor Dean and a charging run in the build-up by prop Tom O’Reilly, who was fresh from playing for the Ireland Club team in Scotland on Friday night.

However, Mary’s could not maintain the momentum and it was UCD who produced the stronger finish, Gilsenan missing a penalty before two late tries from Conall Doherty and replacement Tom Fletcher wrapped up the points.

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