By Barry Coughlan
Lansdowne 18 Clontarf 17
A 66th minute penalty from the right hand touchline proved priceless as Lansdowne regained the Ulster Bank League title by the skin of their teeth from holders Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium today.
As the scoreline suggests there was little or nothing between two competitive sides, but just as important as that match winning penalty from Scott Deasy was the fact that Clontarf finished the last ten minutes of the game with 14 men, after substitute winger Ariel Robles was yellow carded for a late tackle.
First blood went to Clontarf with a penalty on five minutes from full back Rob Keogh, his effort from 45 metres inch perfect on a windless day.
After a promising series of raids, Lansdowne finally got on the score board when Deasy kicked a penalty - but Clontarf hit back within a couple of minutes when Keogh kicked his second penalty from point blank range for a 6-3 lead. This all came after centre Colm O’Shea had carved out the first try scoring chance of the afternoon.
The first try was to fall to Lansdowne however, winger Mark Roche dotting down in the 23rd minute after an assist from Thomas Farrell who went high to pick up a delicate chip cross field from out half Scott Deasy - who failed to convert from out wide.
Clontarf would rue a missed chance in 37 minutes when Conor O’Brien failed to control possession after a fine Matt Darcy break and it didn’t get any better when outhalf Evan Ryan limped off with an injury just before half-time.
Keogh was unlucky to see his 44th minute penalty attempt bounce off an upright, but he restored the lead for Clontarf two minutes later with another penalty from a slightly more favourable position.
Seconds later Matt Darcy streaked away for an intercept try that went unconverted. But if Keogh missed that kick out wide, he nailed another from the right, a penalty, to put his side 17-8 to the good after 53 minutes.
Back came Lansdowne and Joe McSwiney got the try when he charged over after a maul leaving out half Deasy to knock over the conversion, via an upright, to peg Clontarf back to just a two points lead at 17 to 15.
Deasy struck again from the other side of the Aviva with that all-important penalty to seal it for Lansdowne.
Lansdowne: C Kelleher, M Roche, T Farrell, T Daly, I Fitzpatrick, S Deasy, A Griggs, P Dooley, T Moran, I Prenderville, B Moylett, S Gardiner, J McSwiney, R Boucher, A Conneely.
Replacements: A Boland for Prenderville (28), T Beirne for Moylett (49), P O’Driscoll for Boucher (58), T Kiersey for Griggs (62), Boucher for O’Driscoll (75, injured)
Clontarf: R Keogh, C O’Brien, C O’Shea, M Darcy, M MacFarlane, E Ryan, S Cronin, I Soroka, B Byrne, R Burke-Flynn, T Byrne, B Reilly, K Moran, A Ryan, A Darcy.
Replacements: T McCoy for Ryan (39, injured), A Robles for McCoy (42), I Hirst for Soroka, C O’Keeffe for Byrne (both 60), McCoy for Keogh (67), L Og Murphy for Ryan (72), D O’Meara for Cronin (75, injured), R Lichfield for B Byrne (78).
Referee. S Gallagher (IRFU)