“They’re going to be tough to catch but we have a game in hand and are happy to have come through such a difficult match against Dolphin,” declared Young Munster’s head coach and man of the match Mike Prendergast, after Saturday’s victory at Tom Clifford Park. “We will focus on ourselves. This was not a classic but it means another four points for us and we have Clontarf next and then it’s on to Lansdowne.”
The difference between the sides in Limerick was a snap drop goal from 35 metres on the half hour by Prendergast, which he admitted was ‘a pure fluke’. That may well have been the case, but the former Munster scrum-half is proving a revelation at outhalf, with his handling and powerful punting of the heavy ball of invaluable assistance to his side.
The hosts had a well-taken try by centre Mark Doyle, in which Prendergast also played a lead role, and the remainder of their points came from a penalty and conversion by scrum-half Brian Haugh.
Apart from 15 minutes or so after half time, Dolphin gave as good as they got and might well have stolen it at the end when centres Harry Fleming and Cian Bohane came into the game with a vengeance, even with full-back Eamonn Mills in the sin bin. They only had a Barry Keeshan penalty to their credit up to the dying minutes when flanker Miah Cronin intercepted a pass and ran 40 yards for a try between the posts that Keeshan converted.
“We have now lost four matches by three points or under,” lamented coach Steve Ford. “These are fine margins. This is not an easy place to come to and we put in a lot of effort. I cannot fault the players on that score but we were not getting over the gain line and you cannot afford to make this number of mistakes against the top teams in the league.”
Dolphin are still not entirely safe from the relegation zone. They lie 7th on 21 points ahead only of Old Belvedere 20, UL/Bohemian 18 and Shannon 12 but they do have a game in hand (against Young Munster).
YOUNG MUNSTER: C O’Hanlon; S McAuley, M Doyle, L Kuntz, D O’Neill; M Prendergast, B Haugh; A Cotter, G Slattery, H McGrath, capt, S Duggan, C Liston, M Rowley, L Russell, N Melbourne.
Rotating replacements: D Montgomery, G Flahery, M Madden, T Goggin, S O’Leary.
DOLPHIN: E Mills; J Gleeson, H Fleming, C Bohane, J Kiernan; B Keeshan, C Bannon; J Cronin, N Scannell, capt, C Condon, J Madigan, D O’Shea, R O’Herlihy, M Cronin, B O’Callaghan.
Rotating replacements: J Leahy, W Foley, C Rowe, B Slater, N Whalley.
Referee: N Correll (IRFU).