Fighting for survival, it was predictable that last night’s Cork derby in the Ulster Bank League division 1B wouldn’t be a stand-out game. But UCC emerged much the happier as they pulled away from the relegation zone, for the moment at least.
An error-ridden game left the fans frustrated as two nervous teams conceded far too many penalties.
With four teams involved in the battle to avoid relegation, a lot will depend on the outcome of today’s games involving fellow strugglers Shannon and Galwegians, Shannon at home to UL Bohs and Galwegians away to Ballymena. But UCC have hauled themselves into seventh place for the present.
After an explosive start, Kevin O’Keeffe kicked UCC into the lead inside a minute and then, after Barry Keeshan equalised for Dolphin, the winger was shunted into touch inches from the line after eight minutes.
But the students used their pace to move back into the lead with the opening try of the game from Conor Barry after 24 minutes, the flanker breaking through three tackles to score under the posts and leave Kevin O’Keeffe with the simple conversion. The winger rubbed salt into the Dolphin wounds a minute from the break when he kicked another penalty to stretch the lead to 13-3 at the break.
Nine minutes into the second half, Keeshan brought Dolphin into losing bonus point territory but it was still all to play for and an uphill struggle for the home side who were, however, relieved to see O’Keeffe miss a 53rd minute penalty shot from a reasonably favourable position.
The winger did, however, knock over one midway through the second half to stretch the lead to 16-6 and College were happy to watch Dolphin full back Cillian Monahan miss a similar effort a couple of minutes later.
With Dolphin unable to secure enough territory, College looked happy to scrap for any bit of possession and had good enough field position to make their ten point lead look relatively comfortable.
Keeshan did strike with a late penalty to bring the lead back to seven points and the scene was set for a grand-stand finish. At least it should have been, but Dolphin tried too much from deep and conceded another penalty to O’Keeffe who kicked the goal with the final kick of the game to stretch out the lead to ten again, leaving Dolphin with nothing for their efforts.
C Monahan, T Phelan, C McGovern, K Allen, G Ryan, B Keeshan, K O’Keeffe, L Walsh, D Byrne, J Rochford, R O’Herlihy, D O’Mahony, B Fitzgerald, R Murphy, J Fitzgerald (captain).
C Scott, A Foley, K Keogh, D Foley, W Hanly.
D Dennehy, K O’Keeffe, K Slater (captain), P Kiernan, J Kiernan, T Kiersey, R Walsh, S O’Hanlon, E McCarthy, R O’Donovan, D Moloney, B Mitchell, C Barry, C Gallagher, P Derham.
C Leahy, C McHugh, E Earle, C O’Regan, M Linn.
E Hogan-O’Connell (M.A.R)