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Cork Constitution FC v Lansdowne FC

Energia AIL Division 1 A

Saturday 4th November 2023

Temple Hill

 

Cork Con 23  – 17 Lansdowne

 

The hospitality and warmth that Cork Con shows to visitors from Lansdowne was on display as always before and after the game, but between the starting and final whistles, they made Temple Hill a harsh and frosty place for the traveling team. Our genial hosts came out worthy winners of a hard-fought contest and Lansdowne did well to get a losing bonus point.

Con made their intentions clear from the very beginning. Straight from the kick off they recycled the ball and their strong centre partnership broke the gain line and looked destined to score but for a great cover tackle from wing forward Barry Fitzpatrick.  They resumed their attack over and over and even had a try disallowed before Lansdowne finally managed to repel them with an opportunistic clearance kick from hooker Tom Barry.  Against the run of play, it has to be said, we stayed in their half just long enough to be awarded a penalty and outhalf Stephen Madigan converted the long-range kick to put us into an unlikely lead 0 – 3.

But Con were the team with all the energy and hunger, it seemed, and soon they were back in our half, their pressure leading to a kickable penalty and it was 3 – 3 after ten minutes.  They stayed in our half for the following period, winning another penalty, but this time opting to put it in the corner for a 10 meter line out. It looked ominous and sure enough it was, as they executed an inch perfect lineout and maul and went over for a try ten meters from the touchline. An excellent conversion made it 10 – 3.

But the stalwart travelling Lansdowne supporters were warmed by the run of play that marked the second quarter of the game, as we took up an attacking position between their 22 and ten meter lines.  In recent games we’ve been treated to a feast of tries when this back line gets going, but the pickings were decidedly slim today as the Con defence was resolute and impenetrable.  We pounded their line with prop Temi Lasisi and later match captain and centre Rory Parata being held up over the line. But the home side were sailing close to the wind and conceding several penalties in defence of their virtue. Just when it started to look like we were out of ideas, the ball came out on our blind side with scrum half James Kenny drawing one defender before passing towards winger Sean Galvin for what would have been a certain try in the corner. The Con defender instinctively put out his hand, causing a deliberate knock on, penalty try and a yellow card. 10 – 10.

Now the frosty reception was directed at the referee as the local supporters gave voice to their frustration.  Their team too seemed buoyed by this apparent injustice and before long they were back in our half, camped on our line and showing no signs of missing their 15th player.  Again, their resolution showed as their short running rucks and mauls eventually broke down our defence and they scored again.  17 – 10 on the stroke of half time.

The second half started with the same ferocity as the first one had, but this time both sides were playing at full tempo.  Lansdowne’s attack was approaching its former glory, but Con seemed to edge the close encounters and slowly retook control of the game. Now we were defending again and conceding some penalties, and according to the local pundits on the side line, every one was worthy of a yellow card and penalty try!  Notable in their endeavour and hard work during this phase were number 8 , Harry Van Eeden, with sub Conor McMenamin making a big impact when he came on.

But it’s hard to score when you can’t escape from your own 22 and Con made their territorial advantage pay when they won a scrum penalty and edged their lead out to ten points as we entered the last quarter 20 – 10.

Fatigue was starting to show on both sides, but if anything, we seemed to have a bit more in our legs, the only problem being the lack of an opportunity to show it. Con may have been tiring, but their capacity to snuff out our attacks and limit the scope of the game never failed them.  Try as he might, Stephen Madigan couldn’t find the space to unleash our try scoring centres, Andy Marks and Rory Parata, though both made valiant efforts to break through.  As this war of attrition continued, the tide turned even more in our favour when their yellow carded player from earlier was pinged again, this time getting a red for his troubles and the home side were back to 14 men with about 15 minutes to go.  This also went down a treat with the home supporters, as you can imagine.

Still Con held their shape and they managed another ten minutes of slow ball and stop start play, with us conceding another kickable penalty and allowing the home side to edge further out of reach at 23 – 10.

But while the victory was starting to look out of reach, coach Fassbender’s lads weren’t going to go home completely empty handed. With five minutes of normal time left our numerical advantage finally paid. Fifteen meters out from the line the ball came out to a sparsely defended open side and Stephen Mads drew a tackle, letting full back Cathal Eddy loose for an excellent finish under the posts. 23 – 17 and a losing bonus point.  Or was it …?

Yet again from the restart Con were back in our half and, of course we conceded another penalty, just inside the halfway line. Their out half hadn’t missed all day, but this kick looked right at the edge of his range. Would they rob us of the traveling bonus point?  The crowd hushed, he kicks, cocks his head to one side as if to will the ball to the right … but it doesn’t work and the ball drifts left.  The whistle blows.  23 – 17 full time.

Not a pretty encounter as the home side used all their guile and courage to control and limit the game, despite a numerical disadvantage for 25 minutes.  But it was very good to get a losing bonus point on the road and a timely reminder that in this AIL League, nothing is going to be easy.

Next week Terenure away and then Shannon at home.  Let’s keep up the stalwart support!

CORK CONSTITUTION 23 LANSDOWNE 17, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Danny Sheahan, Alessandro Heaney; Cons: James Taylor 2; Pens: James Taylor 3
Lansdowne: Tries: Penalty try, Cathal Eddy; Cons: Pen try con, Stephen Madigan; Pen: Stephen Madigan
HT: Cork Constitution 17 Lansdowne 10

CORK CONSTITUTION: Rob Hedderman; Daniel Hurley, Billy Crowley, Harry O’Riordan, Matthew Bowen; James Taylor, Louis Kahn; Alessandro Heaney, Danny Sheahan, Luke Masters, Sean Duffy, Eoin Quilter, John Forde, Ronan O’Sullivan, David Hyland (capt).

Replacements: Max Abbott, Brendan Quinlan, David Nowak, Mark Stafford, Adam Maher, Te Atawhai Mason.

LANSDOWNE: Cathal Eddy; Hugo McLaughlin, Andy Marks, Rory Parata (capt), Sean Galvin; Stephen Madigan, James Kenny; Ben Popplewell, Tom Barry, Temi Lasisi, Jack Cooke, Ruairi Clarke, Clive Ross, Barry Fitzpatrick, Hardus van Eeden.

Replacements: Henry Godson, George Morris, Liam Forster, Conor McMenamin, Jack Matthews, Tom Gavigan.

 

Match Report – Brian Whelan 

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