Having kicked three penalties in response to a thundering Conor Kindregan try and two penalties from Tomás Quinlan, Garryowen scrum-half Neil Cronin had an injury time opportunity to snatch a sensational win but his effort from distance failed to find the target.
Garryowen forwards coach Paul Neville sympathised with the number nine: “It was probably out of his range but he (Cronin) took responsibility and he went about it the right way, kept the trajcetory low and gave it a good thump. Unfortunately it just went to the left and wide.
“As always, it came down to a kick of the ball. I suppose Con were probably the better side on the day. We didn’t play well in the first half and then conceded a sloppy try which gave them the impetus for about ten minutes, but we came back into it and I was proud of the way the lads responded.”
Constitution skipper James Ryan was relieved, acknowledging: “It was scary at the end which has been the story of our season at the moment. We’re dominating games but tries appear to be at a premium. However, in a difficult game, it was a great effort by the lads. Between the clubs it has been last minute stuff these last three years. We’ve beaten them in a couple of finals, they got us in the league a few weeks back and maybe it was payback time. But, as always, it was incredibly close.”
With Con in the last four, Garryowen can only focus on their Ulster Bank League campaign. Neville is confident the players will respond: “It’s disappointing to be out of this competition at this stage, we treat the cup very seriously, but it gives us the opportunity now to focus on the league.”
Meanwhile two tries from Chris Rowe helped Dolphin move clear of the relegation zone when they secured a narrow 17-15 home win over Blackrock College in Division 1B. In a game refereed by former Irish Women’s Grand Slam winner Joy Neville, Dolphin had to fight all the way but deserved their win in the end, a success that sees them move to eighth in the table and level with ‘Rock, although with an inferior points difference.
Former winners Enniscorthy reached the final of the Ulster Bank All Ireland Junior Cup with a 23-5 win over Bangor. They will meet Instonians, who beat Clogher Valley 30-20, in the final.
J White; S Daly, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, J Poland; G Duffy, M Abbott, G Sweeney; C Kindregan, B Hayes; L Cahill, J Murphy, J Ryan (captain).
L O’Connell for Jermyn (41), M Carey for Murphy (52), A Slattery for Duffy (64), C O’Flaherty for Cahill (71), D Lyons for Quinlan (74).
S McMahon; K Bennett, J McInerney, J Purcell, H O’Brien-Cunningham; A O’Byrne, N Cronin; B McInerney, L Cronin, B Rowley; A McCloskey, P McCarroll; J Keane, E Fitzgerald, D Sherry (captain).
Replacements. C Moloney for McCarroll (42), M O’Donnell for Rowley (57), D Sheehan for Barrett (62), P O’Shea for McNamara (64).
Referee. R O’Sullivan (M.A.R).