Clontarf lifted themselves away from the relegation zone with a deserved win while their hosts’ misery was compounded with news that UL Bohemian snatched an unlikely last minute victory away to Dolphin.
The combination leaves the Light Blues, for so long one of the standard bearers of Munster and Irish club rugby, lying at the bottom of the table. They have a match in hand over UL Bohs, who they meet in the final pre-Christmas game.
But, with two to go down at the end of the campaign, the heat is very much on Garryowen and coach Greg Oliver.
Garryowen conceded a try inside 40 seconds and had fallen 18 points behind at the interval. It was, conceded Oliver, a mountain too high to climb: “We had a bad start, gave away soft tries and the conditions didn’t suit trying to chase the game because we ended up making more mistakes.
“It was a wake up call for us, the reality is that we have to target absolutely every game for points.”
The home side will look back with regret on how easy they made it for Clontarf, particularly the gifting of a second try 27 minutes into the game. Clontarf centre Henry Bryce picked up possession well inside his own half and glided through a tackle; suddenly the gap opened up and flanker Peter Synott made further yards before sending winger Carl de Chenu in for a try that Daragh O’Shea converted to make it 15-0.
The early try from Killian Lett and subsequent penalty from O’Shea were viewed more as an inconvenience than a threat; the second try proved to be much more serious, particularly when Clontarf tacked on a further penalty through O’Shea before the break.
Garryowen reduced the arrears with a penalty from Conor Murray three minutes into the second half and came close to scoring tries from Ronan O’Mahony and Diarmuid McCarthy but Clontarf were up to the task of defending into the wind and of forcing errors based on that vigorous defence.
It turned out to be a frustrating exercise for the Garryowen players and even more so for Oliver, who noted: “The missed tackle that led to the second try was a killer; we have to be honest with one another and realise we have to show a huge improvement.”
The mood was brighter in the Clontarf camp with backs coach Simon Broughton relieved at securing a win. “It’s nice to get back with a win, particularly against a team like Garryowen away from home. It has been a tough grind this season with teams proving anyone can beat anyone on their day. There can be no letting up, we have to work hard and hopefully get the results. This ranks as a timely victory. It’s a big one for us, but we’re still around the danger zone so we will be targeting our last game before Christmas (home to Shannon) to ease the pressure and maybe even to put us back into the top four.”
GARRYOWEN: W. Staunton, D. McCarthy, C. Doyle (c), K. Hartigan, R. O’Mahony, G. Hurley, C. Murray, R. Brosnan, M. Sherry, D. Lavery, F. McKenna, E. Mackey, P. Neville, D. Sherry, A. Kavanagh.
Replacements: L. Burke for Hurley (14 injured), J. Harney for Brosnan, A. Mcloskey for McKenna (both 61).
CLONTARF: D. O’Shea, P. Howard, H. Bryce, K. Lett, C. de Chenu, P. O’Brien, S. Treacy, C. Kavanagh, A. Dundon, N. Treston (c), R. Bolger, B. Reilly, E. Cremin, M. Garvey, P. Synott.
Referee: A. Rolland (IRFU).