Cork Constitution 20 Buccaneers 6
Table-toppers Cork Con edged through to a repeat of the 2002 AIB League Division One final as French centre Jean-Vincent Igarza scored the clinching try in a win over valiant Buccaneers at Temple Hill.
Con will meet Shannon in the domestic competition’s showpiece final next Saturday at Lansdowne Road, after scoring ten points in both halves, and the only tries of the game through left wing Cronan Healy and midfield maestro Igarza.
In what was a bloodthirsty battle, Constitution struck early and gained a 10-0 buffer after just 19 minutes.
Scrum half Pat McCarthy, who was hospitalised after 38 minutes, dropped a 25-metre goal in the fifteenth minute to open Con’s account.
Moments later, wily Buccs’ tight head prop Martin Cahill was sin-binned for a clear stamp on Munster lock David Pusey.
Down to 14 men, the midlands side conceded a try to Healy – his fifth of the season – on 20 minutes off a lineout, and McCarthy was on hand to convert.
The Con number 9 was injured shortly before the break, with wing Tomas O’Leary being forced to deputise at scrum half and Derek Dillon out to the left flank.
Con’s fruitful start was eaten into late on as out-half David Connellan snapped over his first successful penalty attempt from three in the second minute of injury time, to end the half 10-3 in arrears.
Nine minutes after the restart, pack replacement Joey Sheahan, brother of Munster and Ireland hooker Frankie, infringed and was sin-binned by referee Alain Rolland. Connellan kicked Buccs up to 6 points, but that was as good as it got for the three-times semi-finalists.
Munster wing Anthony Horgan stepped into the line from full back and beat two men on 63 minutes, as Con pressed home their advantage.
The move was linked to Healy, who was stopped short of the visitors’ line, but Igarza was on hand to beat the tackles of Chris Keane and Paddy O’Sullivan for a vital second try.
Conrad O’Sullivan converted and an Igarza drop goal with 13 minutes remaining, stretched Con’s lead to fourteen.
With Buccs’ scrum half Keane yellow carded on 78 minutes, the tie was over and deservedly victory was Con’s.
Scorers: Cork Con: Tries: Cronan Healy, Jean-Vincent Igarza; Cons: Pat McCarthy, Conrad O’Sullivan; Drop gls: Pat McCarthy, Jean-Vincent Igarza
Buccaneers: Pens: David Connellan 2