Cork Constitution coach Tom Tierney lauded the quick thinking of Gerry Hurley and Tomás Quinlan after second-half tries from the half-back pair secured a 21-7 win at Lakelands Park on Saturday.
Scrum-half Hurley took advantage of Kyle McCoy’s sin-binning to gather his own chip following a scrum on 69 minutes and race over in the right corner.
Hurley gave the away support a significant heart-in-the-mouth moment before touching down, impishly evading a couple of tackles in the in-goal area to place the ball under the posts.
That score and conversion put Con 16-7 ahead before Quinlan sealed the win four minutes later when he chased Hurley’s kick through to touch down in the left corner.
“Gerry’s a top-class scrum-half and has been for many years,” Tierney said. “He had a superb game today. Tomás Quinlan also had a very good game and we scored two opportunist tries after chip-throughs.”
Terenure had dominated territorially early on but a massive hit in midfield from Niall Kenneally on McCoy roused Con.
The first score didn’t arrive until the 30th minute when Quinlan landed a penalty from 30 metres after Terenure had failed to roll away at a ruck. A minute before the break the out-half again punished the home side for an offside infringement. Con began the second half with much more vigour and after Quinlan had put Darren Sweetnam through a gap in midfield the Cork side really should have pushed out their advantage only for Graeme Lawler to knock on with numbers out wide.
Lawler was otherwise outstanding, but Tierney was careful to praise a collective defensive effort that ensured Con survived those early moments.
“Graeme Lawler is another very good player, a Zimbabwean international, so he knows how to play. But you couldn’t really pick out any player. Defence wins games in Dublin and that’s exactly what did it for us.
“We knew coming here that the first 10 or 15 minutes are critical and if we could stay in it and not give away one or two scores that would change the complexion of the game we were set fair for the rest of the match.”
Terenure edged ahead in the 55th minutes when Mark O’Neill converted Robbie Smyth’s try off the back of a lineout move five metres out.
But Con recovered their composure and another Quinlan penalty set them up to close the game out in the final 10 minutes.
After losing their opening two league games, Tierney’s side are now level on 31 points with Clontarf in third.
“After the first two matches of the league we didn’t know where we were, it was a slow start,” Tierney added.
“But the lads have taken on board what we’re trying to do, a few new things we’re trying to bring to the club as new coaches so to be where we are now is a huge plus. It’s what we were planning for but you just don’t know how it’s going to go. We planned very hard for this game and thankfully we got the performance.”
Scorers for Terenure College: Try: Smyth; Con: M O’Neill
Scorers for Cork Constitution: Tries: Hurley, Quinlan; Con: Quinlan; Pens: Quinlan (3)
TERENURE COLLEGE: I Hanly; J O’Donoghue, S O’Neill, W Devane, H Moore; M O’Neill, K O’Neill; R Harrison, R Smyth, O Heffernan; F Walsh, K O’Dwyer; J Dever, J O’Neill (capt), K McCoy.
Replacements: R Duke for O’Dwyer (50), K Buckley for Smyth (57), M Mahony for K O’Neill (63), O’Dwyer for Dever (67), S Donovan for O’Donoghue (71).
Yellow card: McCoy (64)
CORK CONSTITUTION: D Lyons; D Sweetnam, L Duffy, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, G Hurley (capt); G Duffy, A O’Driscoll, G Sweeney; C O’Flaherty, D O’Brien; G Lawler, J Murphy, J Ryan.
Replacements: L Cahill for Ryan (26), M Abbott for O’Driscoll (51), S Dwyer for O’Flaherty (76), C Corkery for Sweeney (79).
Yellow card: Lawler (71)
Referee: Dudley Phillips