Ireland Club XV last night beat Scotland Club XV 22-17 at Energia Park to retain the Dalriada Cup and win the 2020 Club International Series.
Gearoid Prendergast’s side came into the home leg with a 22-point advantage, but it was clear that victory on the night was the priority for both sides.
“It was a much tougher encounter tonight,” said the Limerick man. “Scotland played right to the end, but equally our guys were clinical at the right times in the game and there was a lot of heart in our defence.”
The Scots came from behind to draw the same fixture in 2019 and looked intent on spoiling the party here.
Old Wesley Number 8 Paul Derham came up with a crucial defensive stop as the rain came down in the closing seconds.
“The conditions definitely came into it,” said Derham, playing on his home patch.
“We were going backwards but it was still controlled. Gerry Hurley was shouting at me to get over the ball. He didn’t want to lose on the night he got the record for caps.”
The Irish led 12-7 at half-time. It was a scoreless but engaging first quarter with hard lines from Matt Byrne and Pa Ryan. Jamie Heuston looked authoritative in the back field.
The Irish lineout was a key platform too. It gave Colm Hogan the time and space for an arcing run to the corner for the first try.
The Scottish response was instantaneous as Callum Young broke in midfield and put Gregor Christie away into the corner.
Aaron McColm’s conversion went over and the Scots were to lead for six minutes.
Ireland Club XV were punching holes. Bryan Fitzgerald slipped a tackle in the 22 and went inches short.
The Scots weren’t rolling away and the kick to touch paid off when Mick Melia dove from home from two metres.
It was the Terenure College man’s first try in five club international appearances.
Player Of the match Pa Ryan was a constant menace and the Irish replacements maintained the home side’s intensity.
Sam Coghlan Murray showed deft control with his feet to nudge a loose ball over the line.
His try and Derham’s late intervention typified Ireland Club’s commitment and guile.
Tries: Colm Hogan, Mick Melia, Sam Coghlan Murray, Con: James Taylor 2, Pen: James Taylor.
Tries: Gregor Christie, Rhys Davis; Con: Aaron McColm, Colin Sturgeon; Pen: Aaron McColm.
Jamie Heuston (Garryowen), Colm Hogan (Dublin University), Pa Ryan (Shannon), Bryan Fitzgerald (Garryowen), Matthew Byrne (Terenure College); James Taylor (UCC), Aran Hehir (Shannon); Conor Maguire (Old Wesley), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution), Andrew Keating (Garryowen), Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution), Alan Kennedy (Young Munster), Michael Melia (Terenure College), John Foley (Young Munster), Paul Derham (Old Wesley)
Adam Clarkin (Terenure College), Conor Bartley (Young Munster), Corrie Barrett (Garryowen), Peter Claffey (Terenure College), Ryan Murphy (UCC), Gerry Hurley (Cork Constitution), Gearoid Lyons (Clontarf), Sam Coghlan Murray (Terenure College).