Staunton inspires Garryowen win

DOLPHIN’S dream of All-Ireland Cup glory was shattered at Musgrave Park on Saturday when Garryowen produced their best form of the season to secure a final berth against old rivals Cork Constitution.

It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for the Cork side who failed to reach their potential but coach Steve Ford has no intention of letting his charges dwell on the defeat over the festive period.

“It was disappointing in that we didn’t play to form although Garryowen deserve credit for that; it was a typical cup tie that was well contested at every turn. Garryowen probably fed off a few of our mistakes but they took their chances and that’s what cup rugby is all about.

“We don’t have time to look back on this one because we have an upcoming Munster cup tie against Shannon and we then have to travel to play Garryowen again in the league. These games have to be our sole focus now, not what happened today,” said Ford.

Garryowen’s Paul Cunningham was upbeat, delighted with what he described as “a typical cup performance”.

Admitting that the game was somewhat scrappy, Cunningham made no excuse for that.

“It was a cup tie, a Munster cup style game, and we’re delighted to have come through it. We have had a lot of injuries this season and results haven’t gone our way but we’re starting to come back and this was a sign we’re getting there because Dolphin are pretty formidable; we had to work very hard to pull off that result,” he said.

Cunningham singled out his out-half Willie Staunton for special praise, noting that he controlled the game at crucial stages and helped keep Dolphin pegged back in their own territory.

“I was happy with the way he kicked and particularly with the angles of his kicking, but overall this was a team effort and credit must go to the pack for the way they competed in every facet of play.”

Garryowen did most of the first half attacking and deservedly led 13-6 at the break even if the deciding score came through a Dolphin error midway through the period.

Dolphin opened the scoring with a penalty from Barry Keeshan but Conor Murray responded quickly to equalise. Staunton took advantage of Dolphin’s handling error to get in for a try which Murray converted and Staunton then dropped a goal from 40 metres. But Keeshan appeared inspired by that and duly dropped a goal for Dolphin from similar distance to keep his side within striking distance.

Keeshan missed a couple of opportunities to reel Garryowen in but Murray made no mistake when presented with a 47th minute penalty opportunity to push the lead out to 16-6 before Dolphin pegged it back with 15 minutes to play.

They scorned a chance to narrow the gap further when opting to run a penalty 15 metres out instead of taking the three points. Garryowen delighted in the fact as hooker Mike Sherry took a ball against the head to relieve subsequent pressure and secure the result.

DOLPHIN: D. McCarthy, D. Barnes, E. Moloney, K. Lynch, P. Hurley, B. Keeshan (captain), S. Cronin, R. O’Neill, A. O’Driscoll, A. Foley, C. Rowe, F. Stone, N. Williams, J. Coughlan, B. O’Mahony.

Replacements: D. Nathan for O’Mahony, R. Kidney for Foley, T. Callaghan for A. O’Driscoll, G. Finn for Stone, N. O’Driscoll for Hurley.

GARRYOWEN: R. O’Mahony, I. Hanley, C. Doyle (captain), K. Hartigan, L. Bourke, W. Staunton, C. Murray, J. Harney, M. Sherry, D. Lavery, F. McKenna, E. Mackey, P. Neville, D. Sherry, C. Hartigan.

Replacements: A. Kavanagh for Hartigan, A. McCloskey for McKenna, JP Cooney for Harney.

Referee: J. Peake (IRFU).

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