Cork Constitution clinches semi-final berth with comeback win
Matisse Lamarque d’Arrouzat emerged as the unlikely hero of Constitution of cork clinched a place in the All-Ireland league semi-finals with a 21-17 comeback victory Lansdowne.
The Frenchman’s first league try for the club, with five minutes left in the Temple Hill thriller on Saturday, saw Cork Con retain fourth place in Division 1A, setting up a trip to top table Clontarf in two weeks.
Needing a final round victory to hold off Dublin University’s charge, former Con captain Niall Kenneally stepped in from the right wing for the game’s opening try in the 13th minute.
However, Lansdowne, who were already guaranteed to finish at least third, gradually increased their attack. They built through the phases before taking out winger James Reynolds to close the gap to 7-5.
The visitors made it a quick brace, Andy Marks freeing Stephen Madigan for the corner to get ahead of them. Then a brilliant attack, unleashed by center Marks, just at half-time, saw full-back Eamonn Mills go over the top. Charlie Tector converted for a 17-7 lead.
Brian Hickey’s half-time words had the desired effect for Con, with Munster’s Sean French breaking through to send second row Cian Barry under the posts in the 44th minute.
Skipper Aidan Moynihan converted, but Con was forced back on the defensive when hooker Max Abbott was convicted for a deliberate forward as he tried to intercept a pass from Lansdowne.
In his absence, the reigning Division 1A champions were tenacious in their tackles and kept Lansdowne at bay. Indeed, with their Rory Burke-inspired scrum in dominant form, the Leesiders went on for the winning try.
Their handling and line-up let them down in a couple of promising situations, but Larmaque d’Arrouzat clawed back the inviting offload from fellow substitute Duncan Williams and powered under two defenders for the decisive score, converted by Moynihan.
Lansdowne will be out for Terenure College who cemented second place with a dazzling 50-14 away triumph UDC.
Cork Students have a relegation play-off against Ballynahinch to plan for, so facing in-form Terenure was a tough ask for Neil Lucey’s much-modified selection.
Terenure winger Craig Adams scored a 50th-minute try hat-trick, taking his season to 14. The visitors finished with eight tries in all, with Adams winger Caolan Dooley racking up 15 points with a try and five conversions.
Clontarf concluded the regular season with its 17th win, overcoming a fiery UCD side 35-17. Prolific Clontarf hooker Dylan Donnellan sits proudly atop the tries standings with 17 tries, following another brace at Belfield.
Leinster’s Chris Cosgrave converted his own try, responding to Tadhg Bird’s opener for Clontarf, and Ross Deegan scored from a cross kick to keep UCD on the heels of the league leaders.
However, Clontarf captain Matt D’Arcy darted under the posts in the 37th minute, and nine minutes into the second half Donnellan deftly rounded full-back Cosgrave’s attempted tackle to give Andy Wood’s men a 28-12 lead.
Barry Gray and Jack Gardiner traded further tries, with the result seeing UCD finish eighth overall, two points behind early season leaders garryowen who were beaten 34-12 by a semi-final chase Trinity the last day.
Tony Smeeth’s youngsters hoped Cork Con would make a mistake, but sadly they missed out on the top four by a single championship point.
A well-crafted line-out move freed up center Gavin Jones for Trinity’s opening try at Dooradoyle, with the Students building a 17-0 half-time lead with influential forwards Harry Sheridan and Thomas Clarkson also crossing the White.
Tricky winger Ronan Quinn had two tries in the second half, before the Light Blues rallied halfbacks Ed Barry and Tony Butler. Leinster’s Max O’Reilly had the final say for the visitors, with Quinn as provider.
Preparing for their two-man relegation shootout with UCC, Ballynahinch picked up a first timely win since February as they got the better of Young Munster on a score of 17-10.
Ulster academy fullback Conor Rankin showed his striking ability with four well-kicked penalties for Ballynahinch. Hooker Josh Hanlon drove for their tryout, while Eoin O’Connor and Shane Malone claimed the Cookies tryouts.