CLONTARF 13 GARRYOWEN 32, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Hugh O’Sullivan, Matt D’Arcy; Pen: Sean Kearns
Garryowen: Tries: Andy Keating 2, Colm Quilligan, Cian Hurley; Cons: Ben Healy 3; Pens: Ben Healy 2
HT: Clontarf 8 Garryowen 12
Garryowen completed a fine season’s double over fellow play-off hopefuls Clontarf with a well-merited 32-12 bonus point victory at Castle Avenue.
While Munster Academy duo Ben Healy (20) and Jack Stafford (22) pulled the strings at half-back, Garryowen also benefited from another strong showing by their big pack. Ireland Club international Andy ‘Panda’ Keating helped himself to two of the visitors’ four tries.
The Light Blues’ decision to play into the wind in the first half paid off, although they trailed early on to a Sean Kearns penalty. In response, eager winger Colm Quilligan was released for the game’s opening try in the right corner.
Clontarf, who have struggled with some inconsistent recent form, snapped back with a clever sniping try from Leinster scrum half Hugh O’Sullivan. The tricky conditions played their part in Kearns’ missed conversion and ‘Tarf were held scoreless for the remainder of the first half.
Garryowen took a 12-8 lead right on the stroke of half-time, tighthead Keating showing his power as he picked from a ruck and took two defenders with him over the whitewash. Before that, ‘Tarf had failed to profit from a series of scrum and maul penalties at the other end.
Conan Doyle’s side built further momentum on the resumption, as they wore down the home defence for flanker Cian Hurley to cross from close range. Tipperary youngster Healy converted and added a penalty to suddenly leave the north Dubliners with a 14-point deficit.
‘Tarf’s talismanic centre Matt D’Arcy clawed back five points by breaking the line and reaching over in the corner for his sixth try of the season. However, that good work was undone when the Garryowen forwards began to punch holes in the home defence and Keating, having been off for a breather, proved unstoppable again from a few metres out.
Munster prospect Healy closed out the scoring with a well-struck conversion and a terrific penalty from halfway, taking his tally to 12 points. Garryowen are looking stronger by the week in second place, while Clontarf’s eighth loss has seen them drop out of the top half of the table.
CLONTARF: Jack Power; Sean Kearns, Michael Brown, Matt D’Arcy, Michael Courtney; Conor Kelly, Hugh O’Sullivan; Ivan Soroka, Dylan Donnellan, JP Phelan, Tom Byrne, Ben Reilly, Tom Ryan, Tony Ryan, Michael Noone (capt).
Replacements: Tadgh McElroy, Cormac Daly, Sam Garvey, Angus Lloyd, Gearoid Lyons.
GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Colm Quilligan, Bryan Fitzgerald, Dave McCarthy, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham; Ben Healy, Jack Stafford; Corrie Barrett, Pat O’Toole, Andy Keating, Tim Ferguson, Kevin Seymour (capt), Cian Hurley, Johnny Keane, Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Mark Donnelly, Paddy Kelly, Evan Maher, Jack Delaney