Tries from Rob Jermyn, Liam O’Connell and Niall Kenneally helped the Leesiders to a commanding 17-3 lead in the early stages of the second-half, and even though their Sean Kearns-inspired opponents gathered serious momentum in the final-quarter, Con head coach Brian Hickey was delighted with the way his side dealt with a potent Mary’s back-three.
“I suppose it should have been maybe more comfortable at one stage in the game, but that’s the one thing about Mary’s/Con games,” he said.
“We haven’t played each other for a couple of years, but prior to that they were always very tough.
“They played with a lot of width. What little we knew of them, we knew they would do that. The have a very, very speedy back-three. I was worried, [but] I was delighted with how we coped in the end.”
Con — runners-up in last May’s Ulster Bank League decider — opened the scoring in the fifth minute, when winger Jermyn crossed over in the right corner, while a strong break into enemy territory by Kenneally enabled O’Connell to touch down six minutes before the break.
Tomas Quinlan comfortably supplied the bonuses on this occasion, before a stoppage-time Kearns penalty meant that Con brought a 12-3 advantage into the second period. However, they extended their lead within 60 seconds of the restart — when Jermyn provided the spadework for a much-deserved five-pointer from Kenneally.
The visitors appeared to be in pole position at this point, but the sin-binnings of Ger Sweeney and Conor Kendergan (in the 48th and 58th minutes respectively) left them facing into a numerical disadvantage for large spells. Indeed, the gap was subsequently reduced to a minimum after Kearns supplemented a seven-point salvo on 70 minutes with his third successful penalty, but Quinlan split the posts deep into time added on to secure the spoils for the Temple Hill outfit.
S Kearns try, 3 pens, con.
R Jermyn, L O’Connell, N Kenneally try each, T Quinlan pen, con.
J McDonnell; T Kennedy, R O’Loughlin, I Dineen, M Fogarty; S Kearns, P O’Driscoll; T O’Reilly, H Kean, B McGovern; C Ruddock, C O’Flaherty; N McCarthy, D Aspil, K Sheahan.
D Keller for Sheahan (14), I Cullinane for McDonnell (35), R Halpin for O’Flaherty (67).
S Daly; L O’Connell, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; T Quinlan, J Poland; G Duffy, M Abbott, G Sweeney; B Hayes, D O’Shea; E Mintern, S Dwyer, C Kendergan.
J Higgins for Quinlan (51), L O’Connor for Dwyer (52-59), G Roche for Abbott, Quinlan for Poland (both 74), JJ O’Neill for Jermyn (77).
Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU).