In the return leg on a sodden Dooradoyle surface on Saturday, the teams managed only one and it fell to the hosts who emerged 10-3 winners.
The try came in the 12th minute of the second half with the sides still scoreless. Back-row forward and captain Josh Hrstich displayed superb offloading skills in sending winger James McInerney over close to the posts. Neil Cronin’s conversion pushed Garryowen seven points in front.
‘Tarf reduced their arrears with a Rob Keogh penalty, and as the tempo intensified, Jonathan Larbey and Karl Moran of the visitors and Neil Cronin were yellow carded by referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell.
Moran was binned for a try-saving but illegal high tackle, and David Johnston tapped over the penalty to ensure victory for Garryowen.
“Even though we ourselves scored four tries in the first game against ‘Tarf, we conceded six”, said Garryowen forwards coach Paul Neville.
“This time our defence was much better. We were offensive in our hits, chopped them low, and our line speed was good so we limited the kind of chances that their dangerous outfield runners enjoyed the last day. We had lost three of our last four matches in the league as well as being knocked out of the Munster Cup so our confidence might have been a bit low, and we were without the Munster players.
“But we worked hard over Christmas and got our reward, especially at scrum time where we were on top and that came as a pleasant surprise.
“Individually, we had a few outstanding contributors and especially our captain Josh Hrstich, who continues to prove one of the finest forwards in the league”.
Clontarf retain their second place position with 32 points, three behind leaders UCD, and five in front of Garryowen with Old Belvedere, 23, the last side within the top four with eight rounds still to go.
Clontarf were well served by their two Mallow-born players, Dermot O’Meara and Sam Cronin, although centre Matt Darcy, recently released by Munster, had few opportunities to show his paces in midfield.
S McMahon; J McInerney, D Johnston, J Purcell, H O’Brien Cunningham; A O’Byrne, N Cronin; B McNamara, L Cronin, B Rowley, A McCloskey, P McCarroll, J Keane, D Sherry, J Hrstich capt.
C Moloney, M O’Donnell, E Fitzgerald, R O’Halloran, K Bennett.
R Keogh; R McGrath, C O’Brien, M Darcy, M McGrath; D Joyce, D O’Meara; I Soroka, T Considine, D Doyle, T Byrne, B Reilly, M Noone, K Moran, A Ryan.
J Larbey, E Browne, V Abelaladee, S Cronin, E Ryan.
E Hogan O’Connell (IRFU).