Cork Constitution 17
By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Shannon’s exalted place in Irish club rugby was reaffirmed last weekend at Lansdowne Road when they won the All-Ireland League title for the fifth time with a deserved victory over Cork Constitution.
Ahead by 13-0 after 10 minutes, and then 18-7 clear at the interval, Shannon had to withstand a courageous Constitution rally during the second half before sealing victory with a drop goal by out-half Niall McNamara.
There was even time for Mick Galwey to amble on for a substitute’s cameo, and while other Munster stalwarts such as Ronan O’Gara sat the final out in preparation for the European Cup decider at the end of the month, there was still a real edge to proceedings.
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As Cork Con struggled with their lineout, Shannon were soon motoring with a couple of Tom Cregan penalties and an intercept try by Colm McMahon. John Kelly gave Con some hope with a score form Conor Mahony’s long pass, but soon Shannon were back in control when John Lacey followed up a kick for his side’s second try.
Cork Con had the better of the second half, eventually narrowing the gap to a point thanks to a Joey Sheahan try, but McNamara kept his nerve to land the crucial drop goal nine minutes from the end.
Shannon: J. Lacey; T. Cregan, M. Lawlor, A. Thompson, M. McNamara; N. McNamara, D. Hegarty; M. Horan, J. Blaney, J. Hayes, B. Buckley, T. Hayes, A. Quinlan, C. McMahon, D. Quinlan. Sub: M. Galwey for Buckley, 55 mins.
Cork Con: B. Walsh; D. Dillon, J. Kelly, Cian Mahony, A. Horgan; Conor Mahony, B. O’Meara; I. Murray, F. Sheahan, J. O’Driscoll, D. O’Callaghan, M. O’Driscoll, J. Sheahan, J. Murray, U. O’Callaghan.