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Cork Con, Shannon reach rugby final

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Malachy Clerkin

Cork Constituion 43, Garryowen 17

Cork Con walked this AIL semifinal and may well walk the final, too. Certainly on this evidence, they’re a step too far for most teams in the country when they have all their internationals back in harness. When you consider that all but five of Garryowen’s 17 points were scored in the dying minutes, you can see how little the Limerick side had to offer.

Con began well at Temple Hill, continued explosively and finished with style. They were physically superior early on and only some last-gasp tackling kept first Anthony Horgan and then Conor Mahony at bay. But it couldn’t last. After Cian Mahony trundled through Peter Malone 10 minutes in, Conor Mahony accepted Ronan O’Gara’s pass 10 meters out. He powered on and over the line after Billy Treacy flapped at him.

Garryowen could have come back into it at the stage, but Jeremy Staunton’s kicking let him down. The game was scrappy for a while before Garryowen managed a try through John O’Sullivan, the lock. Staunton missed the conversion and with it, Garryowen’s chances of staying in touch evaporated. Con mauled their way to a try for Ultan O’Callaghan just before the break and then stretched their legs after it. Cian Mahony, John Kelly and Derek Dillon ran in tries and O’Gara kept the scoreboard ticking over.

It was an utterly convincing win and one that will cause Shannon a few sleepless nights before the final.

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Cork Constitution 43: Conor Mahony, U. O’Callaghan, Cian Mahony, J. Kelly, D. Dillon (tries); R. O’Gara (4 pens., 3 cons.). Garryowen 17: J. O’Sullivan, D. Wallace, D. Crotty (tries); J Staunton (con.).

Shannon 15, Clontarf 12

This was an altogether tighter affair at Thomond Park, but although Clontarf were never any more than a converted try away from the lead, they never actually convinced those watching that such a feat would be within their compass. Shannon were too canny, too streetwise and ultimately too physically strong for the Dublin side, who can nonetheless be delighted with what was a great season for them.

There really was no real flow to the game. Dominated by both packs, neither set of backs ever got the chance to go gamboling. Instead, the result came down to which side’s kicking machine was the more reliable. As it turned out, Tom Cregan just about had the upper hand over Jimmy Dempsey and Shannon squeezed home.

Shannon 15: T. Cregan (4 pens.); M. Lawlor (drp. gl.). Clontarf 12: . Dempsey (3 pens.); D. O’Brien (drp. gl.).

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