Always a difficult venue to come away from with a result, Cork Con were well worth their victory against a Lansdowne side that will be somewhat dissatisfied with its performance at Temple Hill last Saturday.
Having lost two matches on the bounce, the home side’s confidence had taken a bit of a battering, and they entered the match in last place in the table.
There was a certain brittleness about the Cork Con performance early on; Lansdowne, however, didn’t seize the initiative and the Corkmen soon gained confidence – a confidence that was to grow through the afternoon and, correspondingly, it was the visitors who suffered. They felt keenly the absence of their three Leinster “A” players: Tom Daly, Peter Dooley and Max Deegan, and the additional loss of Captain Ian Prendiville through illness further impacted on the side.
Con went on the attack early, and Lansdowne had a let-off as a home player was penalised for pushing winger Charlie McMickan before grounding the ball over the visitors’ line. Relief was short-lived, as second row Conor Kindergan barged his way over from a lineout maul close to the posts for a try after 5 minutes’ play. Out half Tomás Quinlan, who kicked 6 from 9 for 16 points on the day, knocked over the convert for 7-0.
Winger McMickan won the restart superbly in the air, and this set up Lansdowne’s first attacking opportunity. Play was brought into the home ‘22 with some good recycling, and Lansdowne were rewarded with a penalty 10 metres to the left of the posts which out half Scott Deasy kicked to narrow the gap to 7-3 after 8 minutes.
Shortly afterwards Deasy failed to gather a speculative Con kick, and territory was conceded. Lansdowne were then penalised on the ’22 in front of the posts and Quinlan restored his side’s seven point advantage with 10-3 after 13 minutes.
Lansdowne responded well, and a series of penalties saw several attacks on the Cork Con line. Afte a missed Deasy penalty, Lansdowne opted for a scrum from the next peno, but the play went awry and the ball was turned over under pressure at the back of the scrum and a free kick conceded.
Lansdowne were awarded no less than 6 penalties in a row, and visiting Scottish referee Sam Gove’s patience finally wore out when he binned the outstanding Con. No.6, Brian Hayes, in the 23rd minute. Lansdowne returned to the attack with a good surge put in by second row Stephen Gardiner but, in truth, they lacked the cutting edge to turn territorial domination into points.
Scott Deasy did manage to reduce the leeway to 10-6 with a good kick from 15 metres in from touch on the ’22, but this was scant reward for a lot of pressure inside the home ’22. The cause was not helped by the sin-binning of No.8 Willie Earle on 32 minutes for what appeared a fairly harmless tackle that was deemed to be high by the touch judge.
Constitution took advantage of their numerical superiority once Hayes returned to pile pressure on the Lansdowne defence. After a missed Quinlan penalty, they capitalised on a weak clearing kick to set up a chance for full back Shane Daly to cross for an unconverted try and a 15-6 lead after 38 minutes.
There was still time for Lansdowne to respond and, following good work by centre Mark Roche and hooker Tyrone Moran, it appeared a try was there for the taking. The chance was lost, and the half time whistle sounded to the relief of the home side and the frustration of the Headquarters side.
Several blood injuries let to the replacement of second row Josh O’Rourke and winger McMickan, with Paul Boyle coming on for his AIL debut in the pack. With Earle still off the park, Quinlan kicked an early penalty to stretch his side’s lead to 12 points, 18-6. Lansdowne came back again and centre O’Donnell almost put winger McEvoy away.
Returning local boy Joe McSwiney then seized the initiative, bursting from a ruck 30 metres out to show great pace and determination to dive over beside the posts to narrow the gap to 18 – 13 once Deasy had done the honours with the conversion on 51 minutes.
Hope flickered briefly for Lansdowne, but a further Quinlan penalty stretched the Con lead to 21-13 after 55 minutes. After 67 minutes, out half Deasy made a lovely break but, unfortunately, tried a difficult inside pass when the options outside appeared to offer greater scope, and a genuine scoring opportunity went a-begging.
Worse was to follow, as Roche, who switched to the wing when O’Donnell went off injured and Jack Howlett came on in the centre, was yellow carded. This put the Lansdowne defence under strong pressure. Their tails up, Con made the most of their numbers at this stage and Quinlan stretched their lead to 24-13 in the 76th minute.
Almost on full time, Constitution sub back rower Graeme Lawlor gave a somewhat distorted dimension to the score line with a try as the Lansdowne effort petered out. Quinlan added the final touch with an excellent conversion from the touch line for a 31-13 result in favour of the Corkmen.
Cork Constitution FC 31 Lansdowne FC 13
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A 2016-17
Dooradoyle, Sat. 17th September 2016 k.o. 2:30pm
Referee: Sean Gallagher
Match Report: Michael Daly
Next Match: Lansdowne v. Clontarf: Friday the 28th of October, Aviva back pitch, with a 7:30pm kick-off. Book early for the dinner!
Article related to 1st XV team.
Article related to 1st XV v Cork Constitution fixture.