Cork Con v. Lansdowne
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A
Temple Hill, Saturday 20th September 2014
In the eighty-fifth minute of this engaging match, a hush fell over Temple Hill as Scott Deasy, himself a former Cork Con player, lined up for what would be a decisive last penalty kick.
Half-way out and around 32 metres from goal, Deasy struck the ball beautifully, and stopped to admire it as it sailed between the uprights to separate the two sides.
It was fitting that Deasy should have the last word, and his vital last kick of the match made partial amends for the double the Cork side recorded over Lansdowne last season.
Lansdowne lost Ireland U20 second row Stephen Gardiner in the warm up. The injury saw Jack Dilger promoted from the bench with another former Cork Con player, Joe McSwiney, who made a fine debut, moving to the row. Ross Deacon came onto the bench and also made his AIL debut.
Despite the disruption, Lansdowne started brightly, and as early as the third minute scored when Scott Deasy dinked a beautiful ball behind the Constitution defence for winger Ian Fitzpatrick to gather unopposed and cross for a simple, but perfectly executed try.
Deasy added the conversion. He then struck a penalty in the 7th minute when Lansdowne dominated the first scrum and the retreating home side transgressed. Lansdowne made a bit of a mess of both restarts from these early scores, and paid the price the second time when they were penalised for a high tackle on Con out-half, Gerry Hurley, who duly kicked the goal for 10-3 after 9 minutes.
Lansdowne failed to capitalise on a penalty when their line-out miss-fired in the corner. The visitors kept up the pressure and set up a series of attacks but were unable to finish them off, Fitzpatrick being narrowly thwarted in what would have been a replica of his earlier try. The visitors finally won another scrum penalty after 20 minutes and Deasy knocked over his third successful kick for 13-3.
This early dominance promised to create the platform for Lansdowne to secure a comfortable win. However, the replacement of three players through injury within the first 35 minutes did not help cohesion, and Con began to come into the match with some effective counter-attacking. Lansdowne’s defence was not proving as decisive as usual and a succession of turn-overs gave encouragement to the home team.
The red carding of Constitution second-row Graeme Lawlor for an alleged head butt in the 32nd minute should have been a decisive moment in the match; instead, it served to galvanise the home team. Lansdowne did have several chances to capitalise on the extra man before the half-time break, but the opportunities were let slip. The visitor’s line-out continued to splutter and ball retention suffered.
Lansdowne took up after the break as if they meant business. Centre Tom Daly made a fine break which was not capitalised on. There was a collective gasp when Deasy finally missed his first kick at goal of the season from a penalty in the 48th minute, such has been the high standard of his ball-striking thus far in the league.
Lansdowne’s mounting frustration served as encouragement for the home side. Despite being a man down, Con proved their pedigree as the only ever-present side in the top division of Irish club rugby with a battling performance, which started to pay dividends. Led by No. 8 Luke Cahill and ably supported by James Murphy and Cathal O’Flaherty up front, Con began to enjoy their best phase of the match.
After Hurley had missed a penalty, centre Kenneally scored a try from a penalty line-out. With Hurley missing the convert, Con wrested the initiative from the visitors and returned to the attack. Some relief came from a break-out by Captain Ron Boucher which led to Cian Kelleher being put away - only to be called back for a forward pass. The Corkmen surged back, and numbers were evened-up when winger Tom Farrell received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the 67th minute.
Constitution forced another penalty line-out, and Murphy barged his way over for the try, which levelled the scores at 13-all. Hurley again failed with the kick from a similar position, and the scene was set for the final show-down. Lansdowne again had Boucher to thank for his battling leadership qualities, and his barn-storming run from twenty-two to twenty two set up the opportunity for Deasy to land the final blow against a brave opposition.
Backs Coach Mark McHugh noted that the team was creating many chances; the challenge is to convert them into points on the board. Similar to Leinster the previous evening, Lansdowne lost their way somewhat after a dominant first half during which they could have put the opposition away. However, an away win against Cork Con is a rare achievement and to be valued, and this Lansdowne side will be a better team for the experience.
Match Report by Michael Daly
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