Rugby: O’Callaghan leads the way in 100th AIL game

Cork Constitution 24 Garryowen 8

Being voted ‘Man of the Match’ was a debatable issue - given the fantastic performance of younger colleague Frank Cogan - but he definitely played a major role in pushing his team to the top of the AIB league table.

O’Callaghan made his league debut for Constitution over ten years ago against age old rivals Garryowen.

Never though, could he have anticipated setting Con up for a fine victory with a try three minutes after the kick off, just after being allowed lead the team onto the pitch by captain Jerry Murray who, with 111 appearances, joined coach Brian Walsh as Constitution’s top league representative.

Constitution were always in control but O’Callaghan still remarked: “It was tough going at times but we had a great start and I never really worried about losing the game.

“The thing is that you can never relax against a side like Garryowen and, to be fair, they did a bit of damage to us up front for periods of the match.”

O’Callaghan scorched over for a third minute try under the posts.

He held possession from a lineout, hesitated for a second, before powering in for a try under the posts, Pat McCarthy converting.

“Quite honestly, I wasn't thinking of myself, only that we should have a good start against a very good side.”

Constitution needed that good start on the basis of a vigorous challenge from Garryowen, who had four players yellow carded by Simon McDowell, who could best be described as fussy.

It was never a dirty game but cards for mainly technical offences were shown at regular intervals. Garryowen had Rob Laffan sent to the “bin” but he and the Constitution recipients, Des Murray, Kevin Coughlan, Joey Sheahan and Murray were equally bemused by some of the decisions.

Midway through the opening half it almost developed into farce as both sides were reduced to 14 and 13 players.

In any event, Cian Mahony scored a 35th minute try and McCarthy added the points to shoot Constitution into a 14 point lead. Mark Connolly struck a 52nd minute penalty but Stephen McColl finished off a magnificent Constitution movement to push the home lead out to 19-3.

Shane Leahy grabbed a Garryowen try midway through the second-half but Constitution rallied the troops and substitute Brendan O’Connor was at the end of a very good movement to secure the victory - and the bonus point.

*Ballymena fell from grace with a surprise home defeat by Blackrock. The Dublin club hauled themselves up the table with their third win from four outings and are live title contenders because they have a game in hand over most of the front-runners.

*Shannon’s big victory over Galwegians, secured with a bonus point for good measure, leaves them in second place and order, in terms of Munster’s previous League dominance appears to have been restored.

*Buccaneers, of course, could pose a problem after another good victory over Dolphin, while County Carlow still hang onto joint third, with Buccs and UCD, the only side to have taken a point from Constitution.

The students strengthened their position with a 32-28 victory over Lansdowne.

*At the lower end of the scale, Galwegians still await their first point after losing to Shannon and St. Mary’s , Lansdowne and Dungannon are all in a precarious position, slightly behind both Dolphin and Garryowen.

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