Con knock Rock for 12th time

CORK Constitution stretched their unbeaten AIB League run over Blackrock to 12 games with a deserved triumph at Temple Hill on Saturday.

The hosts pulled away in the last 10 minutes of a game that was marked by endless endeavour, but also by a series of mistakes on the opening day of the league campaign.

Constitution coach Brian Walsh didn’t disguise his disappointment at the overall display and rugby quality.

He admitted: “It was a poor game, probably driven by the fact that nobody wanted to lose their first league match of the season.

“Both sides looked rusty; there was no real flow to the game and once we got to half time with just one score on the board — it was always going to be a dour second half.

“I don’t think either side hugely threatened, but at least it was good to be able to put the scores on the board when it counted. I think we were comfortable at 15-5 but only felt totally safe with that last score,” he added.

Walsh can reflect happily on a marvellous second-half try from Tom Gleeson, who brilliantly caught a long pass from Jeremy Manning whose break paved the way for the score.

Given the quality of players available, Con, with a measure of improved form, look well capable of challenging for the title.

Blackrock mightn’t do so badly either, despite this losing start. With Shane Byrne back in the ranks and Des Dillon leading the troops from the front, they won’t be bossed up front by many of the participants.

Walsh noted: “It’s their 125th anniversary and I’m sure they’ll be going all out to have a decent season.

“I’m sure it has been already a huge boost to have Shane (Byrne) back after giving his heart and soul to professional rugby. They’re pretty formidable up front; I was particularly impressed by their number eight (Paul Graham), the full back (Fionn Carr) also looked impressive and they’ve got an out half (Emmett Farrell) who can kick them into attacking territory. All in all, they should prove a handful for a number of teams.”

The visitors started brightly when Carr raced away for an intercept try in the ninth minute. Blackrock doggedly preserved that lead until Manning kick-started the Constitution challenge with that spectacular break that led to the try from Gleeson.

Blackrock got a dose of their own medicine in the 50th minute when Farrell’s chip was blocked by John Stringer and the ball fell perfectly for the scrum half to pick up and race away for a try that Manning converted.

The out half then finished off Blackrock, dropping a goal after 69 minutes and adding a penalty near the end.

Walsh is aware that there is a long hard grind in front of his team: “It’s going to be all about getting the fundamentals right, a good solid scrum and a quality line-out. It’s fair to say that we weren’t the finished article, but the players are of such a quality that I’m confident of an improvement.”

CORK CONSTITUTION: D Hurley, R Lane, T Gleeson, D Nethery, C Healy, J Manning, J Stringer, C Murphy, De Murray, T Ryan, M O’Connell (captain), S O’Connor, B Holland, F Cogan, E Leamy.

Replacements: J Moloney for Cogan (65), Tom Ryan for Murphy, R Quinn for Murray (both 70), D O’Kane for Gleeson (inj, 73), D Lyons for Manning (78).

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: F Carr, S Monahan, K Tonetti, B Canavan, N Morris, E Farrell, D Moore, K Moloney, S Byrne, R Burke-Flynn, P Huntley, D Dillon (captain), J Hill, P Graham, R Woods.

Replacements: P Ryan for Hill (70), M Cuffe for Quinn (73), D Madigan for Moore (76).

Referee: C Stanley (IRFU).

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