Max Abbott pounces at the death for Con

Ulster Bank League, Division 1A
Max Abbott pounces at the death for Con

It was six at Temple Hill on Saturday, but the margin between victory and defeat was as fine as ever.

As the game ticked four minutes into injury time, Garryowen skipper Neil Cronin pushed his side ahead with a well-struck penalty.

It should have been game over, but referee Stuart Gaffikin allowed more time on the clock and Con used that time to turn things around.

Garryowen will probably regret trying to keep the ball in hand in the final seconds before turning possession over and allowing Con one last chance at redemption for earlier handling errors that cost scores.

Arguably, Con were the better side but were guilty of spilling the ball — sometimes under pressure, sometimes not — and regularly took the wrong option.

Add in a glaring first-half penalty miss and another attempt that struck the post and it would have been easy for Garryowen to believe it was to be their day.

Certainly, the light blues made the most of their chances and that late penalty goal from Cronin should have been enough to ease relegation worries.

Constitution coach Brian Hickey accepted they had almost paid a heavy price. “I thought it was gone, to be honest.

“There were so many times we had a chance to put them away, I just felt we gave away a penalty going for a bite of the ball that they would have been cuter at.

“Having said that, I thought we attacked with composure and determination in that last play and got the reward.”

Ultimately, the hero was hooker Max Abbott who struck for the try that Tomás Quinlan converted, but there were other notable displays from members of the Constitution pack, certainly from second-half replacement Rory Burke who made a powerful impact at scrum time.

Garryowen led 12-10 at the break with tries from Sam Arnold and Liam Coombes, one of them converted by Cronin, against a Conor Kindregan try, a conversion and penalty from Quinlan.

Two Quinlan penalties had Con 16-12 up before Cronin’s 70th-minute try restored the Garryowen lead to 17-16.

Quinlan and Cronin exchanged penalties but Con’s late surge jumped them up the pecking order to second in the league with two to play.

CORK CONSTITUTION:

S Daly, L O’Connell, N Hodson, N Kenneally (captain), R Jermyn, T Quinlan, J Higgins, L O’Connor, M Abbott, G Sweeney, B Hayes, C Kindregan, G Lawlor, J Murphy, L Cahill.

Rolling replacements:

R Burke, G Duffy, C Barry, J Poland, JJ O’Neill.

GARRYOWEN:

L Coombes, S McMahon, S Arnold, P Collins, H O’Brien-Cunningham, A O’Byrne, N Cronin (captain), N Horan, E Costelloe, JP Phelan, S O’Connor, B O’Byrne, D Shanahan, M Wilson, B Faloon.

Replacements:

A Thai, M O’Donnell, T Ferguson, J Keane, J Heuston.

Referee:

S Gaffikin (I.R.F.U).

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