Limerick’s sole representatives in Division 1A started at a ferocious pace and raced into a 14-3 lead after half an hour, despite playing with 14 men following Derry O’Connor’s sin-binning. Young Munster’s early surge was inspired by Shane O’Leary, who is back with Connacht after a spell with Grenoble.
But after Clontarf had cut the deficit to just a point at half-time, the scintillating pace of their back three was the deciding factor on the restart. It was certainly the crucial element of the game’s most eye-catching score, a length-of-the-field try after full-back Ariel Robles had picked the ball off his toes and combined with James Hawkshaw and Sam Cronin who fed winger Rob McGrath to score on 63 minutes for a 28-14 lead.
Wood admitted: “We weren’t firing on all cylinders but when we did, we showed what we could do. It was a very tough examination for those first 40 minutes so we’re delighted to get the bonus point on the efforts of the second half.
“You know what you’re going to get from Young Munster. They’re a very strong, set-piece-focused side and we knew we’d have to weather it and take advantage of our opportunities when we got a purple patch. We had to remind them at half-time what they could do. We almost scored at the start of the second half from a long-range move and we got confidence off the back of that. ”
Young Munster coach John Staunton, meanwhile, felt Clontarf were aided in their comeback by the failure of officials to award a lineout after Hawkshaw’s foot appeared to be over the line just before he touched down on 34 minutes.
“We started really well and did our basics very well but we were very unlucky with that first try. I was only 20 metres away and his foot was in touch. The linesman should have been better positioned to see it but he wasn’t and that’s the way it goes. We made a couple of silly errors in the second half and that brought Clontarf back into the game.”
Staunton also lamented the luck that seemed to desert his side when Peter Du Toit pounced on his own blockdown to put Clontarf 18-14 up after 47 minutes, only for a Young Munster blockdown to lead to that McGrath try. He said: “We get blocked down, and they get seven points. We block them down, and they get seven points. It’s a bounce of the ball but you have to give it to them, they have some serious firepower. We’re a bit behind in preparations, we’ve a lot of injuries. They were probably there for the taking but Evan Ryan going off had a big effect on the game when we were starting to get a small bit of dominance in the scrum. That allowed Clontarf to play a lovely style of rugby because they weren’t being put under pressure in the scrum, which is totally wrong for Young Munster style rugby.
“But we’ll be much stronger when we get more bodies back over the next few weeks and we’ll be able to have a right pop at it.”
Scorers for Clontarf: Hawkshaw, Du Toit, Garvey, McGrath, Keelan (tries); Joyce (2 pens, 3 cons)
Scorers for Young Munster: O’Leary, Gibbons (tries), O’Leary (2 pens), Martin (pen)
CLONTARF: A Robles; J Hawkshaw, M Brown, M Darcy, R McGrath; D Joyce, P Du Toit; I Soroka, J Larbey, I Hirst; T Byrne C O’Keefe; L Murphy, Adrian Darcy, M Garvey.
Replacements: S Cronin for Du Toit (50), K Moran for Murphy (50), Murphy for Byrne (54), D Hegarty for Soroka (54), D Hanratty for Robles (68), B Keelan for Larbey (70)
YOUNG MUNSTER: D O’Connor; E O’Keefe, S O’Leary, D Goggin, W Kelly; B Martin, E Mulcahy; G Flaherty, D Sheehan, E Ryan; T Goggin, D Gallagher; D Ryan, D Dee, S Rennison.
Replacements: G Ryan for Flaherty (38), C Rea for Ryan (45), M Madden for Gallagher (54), B Gibbons for Sheehan (71), W Casey for Mulcahy (75)
Referee: Leo Colgan