“What today showed is that we have a squad capable of competing in this league,” he said. “We won the AIL last season but lost a number of players at the end of it. It had taken us up to five years building to win the league last year and we’ve now started to bring in new blood.
“You saw the pace and intensity. We played some superb rugby. To score three tries on this ground and rack up 30 points against such a good side makes me very proud.”
There was plenty of endeavour but very few real scoring chances in a lively opening quarter though. Jonathan Holland scuffed a ninth minute penalty and St Mary’s only took the lead after 26 minutes with a Gavin Dunne penalty.
But Constitution paid the price when James Ryan was yellow carded, and flier Steve Toal-Lennon was sent in for a 31st minute try by Matthew D’Arcy with Dunne converting. Constitution’s plight got worse as they conceded a second converted try when Toal-Lennon raced from deep after picking up a stray pass and Dunne made it 17-0 with another conversion.
Chasing the game proved costly for Constitution. Dunne struck with successive penalties early in the second half as the game descended into a 14 v 13 affair – Ciaran Ruddock for Mary’s and both Brian O’Hara and Cronan Healy in the bin for the home side. Con’s defence opened again to allow D’Arcy in for a 55th minute try and Dunne’s accuracy pushed the lead out to 30 points.
Constitution got their opening try through Brian Hayes in the 68thminute and Gerry Hurley converted but a comeback was never on despite striking again with a Conor Desmond try.
With seven games to play defeat leaves Constitution in fifth, 14 points adrift of leaders Lansdowne.
“It’s a bit of a mountain now,” admitted Con coach Brian Walsh. “It’s a lesson that you must win home games, especially after having a couple of big wins on the road. Maybe we didn’t just work hard enough, but in fairness St Mary’s played very well. They won a lot of the 50-50 challenges.”
CORK CONSTITUTION: D Lyons, N O’Driscoll, R Clune, S Deasy, C Healy, J Holland, G Hurley (captain), P Galvin, A O’Driscoll, B. Cagney, B Hayes, P Donnellan, G Lawlor, J Ryan, B O’Hara.
Rolling substitutes: B Vaughan, J Rochford, C O’Flaherty, A Ryan, C Desmond.
ST MARY’S COLLEGE: C Hogan, S Toal-Lennon, M O’Driscoll, R Hudson, D Fanning, G Dunne, M D’Arcy (captain), C McMahon, D Fawcett, R Lyons, S Bradshaw, G Sexton, C Ruddock, D Keller, G Austin.
Rolling substitutes: R O’Donovan, T O’Reilly, M Fallon, R O’Loughlin, A Burke.
Referee: S Gaffackin (Ulster).