Shannon persist to secure another final spot

Next Saturday will see champions Shannon will contest their third AIB League Division One final in four years after a two-try effort saw off plucky Clontarf 21-11 at Thomond Park.

Shannon 21 Clontarf 11, Thomond Park, 2pm

Next Saturday will see champions Shannon will contest their third AIB League Division One final in four years after a two-try effort saw off plucky Clontarf 21-11 at Thomond Park.

The Limerick men ensured former Munster and Ireland skipper Mick Galwey his first outing as a coach at Lansdowne Road, scoring tries through Fionn McLoughlin and John O'Connor late on in either half.

'Tarf - 26-17 losers at the same venue four weeks ago - began well with two Daragh O'Shea penalties, but were keep scoreless for a full 70 minutes as Galwey's charges powered through.

O'Shea successes on 4 and 14 minutes were cancelled out by two Shannon penalties from man-of-the-match David Delaney - his second slot coming on 27 minutes.

The Shannon machine quickened pace in the first half's closing stages as referee Simon McDowell sent Clontarf lock Andy Wood to the sin-bin on 37 minutes for hauling down a ruck.

Shannon took full advantage as a 40th-minute lineout drive on the far side of the pitch saw left winger Fionn McLoughlin put over in the corner, for an 11-6 interval lead.

'Tarf full-back O'Shea missed a chance to reduce the deficit with a quick penalty on the restart and Delaney, who controlled matters in the loose, fired Shannon further in front on 57 minutes with his third kick.

With just two minutes remaining, a quick free kick-tap by substitute David Quinlan made certain of Shannon's ninth straight league success as flanker John O'Connor touched down - with two players in support.

Delaney converted for 21-6 but 'Tarf - beaten finalists in 2003 - had the last word as impressive sub scrum-half Dan van Zyl set up an injury-time move for fly-half Marc Hewitt to score a late consolation try.

Belfast Harlequins - who beat the Shannon men 19-18 in their Deramore Park meeting before Christmas - will face them again next Saturday, May 7 at Lansdowne Road (4.00pm, live RTE Two).

'Quins overcame Garryowen 15-8 in a dour struggle at Dooradoyle earlier today.

Shannon: D O'Donovan; I Dowling, B Tuohy, E Cahill, F McLoughlin; D Delaney, F O'Loughlin; L Hogan, N Conroy, T Buckley, E Halvey, T Hayes, (Capt), C McMahon, J O'Connor, S Keogh.

Subs used: J Blaney for Conroy, D Quinlan for Halvey (both 52 mins), G Murray for O’Loughlin (74)

Clontarf: D O'Shea; M Hewitt, C Mahony, J Downey, D Rossi; D Hewitt, M Walls; J Wickham, B Jackman, A Clarke, J Duffy, A Wood, D O'Brien (Capt), S O'Donnell, D Tafanel.

Sub used: D McAllister for O’Shea (34 mins), D van Zyl for Walls (55), W O’Kelly for Clarke (61)

Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Fionn McLoughlin, John O’Connor; Con: David Delaney; Pens: Delaney 3

Clontarf: Try: Marc Hewitt; Pens: Daragh O’Shea 2

HT: Shannon 11 Clontarf 6

Referee: Simon McDowell (Ulster)

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