It was all to play for between two of the struggling teams in Division 1B. UCC were in a better starting position on 15 points and in seventh place against Dolphin on nine and in second last.
But last night’s deserved win gives the Musgrave Park outfit a decent hope of survival, the points deservedly gained pushing them up the table to leapfrog (for the moment at least) Galwegians, and they’re now within a point of the students. The result wasn’t particularly good news for bottom side Shannon, who are stuck on eight points, albeit with a game in hand now.
UCC got off to a flying start but it was Dolphin who dominated an opening half interrupted by a 20-minute delay when the floodlights went out on Black Friday!
Kevin O’Keeffe put the students into the lead after 16 minutes with a fine opening penalty goal. Ten minutes later, Darragh Moloney won a clean line out and the ball was transferred via Charlie O’Regan and Tom Kiersey to Murray Linn who charged through virtually unopposed for an excellent opening try, that O’Keeffe converted.
Dolphin settled though. Their pack took control of the game and Ryan Murphy grabbed their first try four minutes later, with Cillian Monahan adding the conversion to leave just three between the sides.
Sensing the pack had enough to punish the students, Dolphin kicked for position rather than take an equalising penalty and were rewarded with a second try from John Fitzgerald, again converted by Monahan, before and after the lights went out.
When the game did get going again, Dolphin continued to dominate and Fitzgerald powered over for the third try after another rolling maul, this time having to be satisfied with a five-pointer and a lead of 19-10 at the break.
Monahan kicked an early second half penalty to push the lead out to 12 points and there was no falling completely back from there for the Musgrave Park side, although their supporters had a major scare when the impressive Ben Mitchell was sent in for an excellent try 17 minutes into that second half, before Monahan kicked a further penalty to make it 25-15.
C McAuliffe; K O’Keeffe, K Slater (captain), M Linn, R Slater; T Kiersey, C O’Regan; P McCabe, B Burns, R O’Donovan; B Mitchell, D Moloney; C Barry, C Gallagher, R Moran.
S O’Hanlon, C Slowey, G Smith, R Walsh, D Dennehy.
T Phelan; G Ryan, C McGovern, S Kennedy, W Hanly; C Monahan, K O’Keeffe; J Rochford, L Walsh, B Scott; R O’Herlihy, D O’Mahony; J Fitzgerald, K Allen, R Murphy (captain).
J Leahy, D Byrne, L Coughlan, D Foley, A Mason.
Referee. S Kierans (IRFU)