Cork Constitution 12 Lansdowne 32: Cork Constitution relinquished their Bateman Cup title in tame fashion at Temple Hill on Saturday when Lansdowne produced a stunning second-half display of poise and power to take the spoils for the first time in the modern era.
After a competitive first half, Mike Ruddock’s charges pulled away to secure an easier victory than expected; they grabbed three tries in the third quarter, the last an interception as Con threw everything at them in a bid to save the game, effectively ended this as a contest and secured Lansdowne their first Bateman Cup since 1931.
After five years in control of this tournament, last year’s double All-Ireland champions are now left to seek redemption with an Ulster Bank League semi-final outing away to Terenure and the possibility of meeting Lansdowne, who play Garryowen in the penultimate stage, again in the final.
Constitution head coach Brian Hickey admitted the better side won but bemoaned the concession of a 59th minute breakaway try to Mark O’Keeffe, which he believed was the final breaking point.
“It was a heavier defeat than we deserved and the disappointing thing is the concession of two tries from 70 yards and two more as a result of turning over possession easily. However, when you look at their points total in the league this season, it’s not a huge shock that they have this ability to score.
"I suppose we knew what we faced; they have been scoring tries for fun this year. I was actually quite pleased with aspects of our game, particularly in the first half, but we got sloppy after that.”
The contest, as predicted, was fierce in the opening half, with Con dominating the first and Lansdowne the second quarters.
Each of the teams scored a try but Lansdowne edged ahead courtesy of a 37th-minute penalty from ex-Constitution star Scott Deasy, who brought his scoring tally for the season to an admirable 200 points with that successful kick.
That followed on a chip and chase try from his half-back partner Alan Bennie after 28 minutes, all in response to Con who were rewarded for their first quarter dominance with a 19th-minute opening score from Liam O’Connell, the architects of which were Alex McHenry and Brian Hayes.
McHenry continued to have inspirational moments after the break but the scoring fell mainly to the visitors who forged into an 18-5 lead with tries from Josh O’Rourke and Adam Leavy and then on to an unassailable advantage when O’Keeffe’s try was converted by Deasy for a 25-5 lead.
Substitute Darren O’Shea responded with one for Con that Quinlan converted, but the highly impressive Eamonn Mills with a fine try and Deasy with the conversion rounded off a memorable afternoon for Lansdowne.
Deasy, composed throughout, was man of the match, but was happy to pass on credit to others, not least the pack for their ability to cope with dogged Constitution and to full-back Mills.
“We sensed it would be difficult, that Con would come out aggressively from the start and it was a question of coming to grips with that.
“We won the collisions against Con for a change and that was crucially important.” He also had words of praise for fellow Corkman Mills, who played important roles in the second and third tries before going on to score one himself at the end. “Super player, just so comfortable on the ball. Great display, he just does the right things at the right times.”
S Daly; L O’Connell, A McHenry, N Kenneally (capt), R Jermyn; T Quinlan, G Hurley; G Duffy, V O’Brien, G Sweeney; B Hayes, C Kindregan; J McSwiney, R O’Neill, L Cahill.
D O’Shea, E Mintern, JJ O’Neill, J Higgins.
E Mills; F Horan, H Brennan, M O’Keeffe, A Leavy; S Deasy (captain), A Bennie; M Mulhall, T Moran, G McGrath; J O’Rourke, J Dwan; J O’Sullivan, A Conneely, W Earle.
A Boland, J Rael, B Fitzpatrick, G Molloy, C McMickan, I Fitzpatrick, A Boland.
G Clancy (IRFU)
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