Lansdowne 18 Clontarf 17: Scott Deasy’s nerveless conversion of a difficult 66th minute penalty sealed victory for Lansdowne over champions Clontarf in Saturday’s pulsating Ulster Bank League final at the Aviva Stadium.
The Rugby Gods were smiling on Lansdowne earlier in the day as another Deasy effort crept over via a post while at the other end Clontarf’s kicker Rob Keogh was denied by the woodwork.
It was a good day for the former Constitution man Deasy as it was for another of the ex-Temple Hill brigade, Joe McSwiney, who justifiably won the Man of the Match title.
A delighted head coach Mike Ruddock paid tribute to both: “Scottie (Deasy) stuck in there, he gave away a pass (which led to a Clontarf intercept try) after which he could have dropped his head but he stuck in there and kicked a really important kick for us which he has been doing all season, he’s a class act. On the balance of the season, we were the most consistent team with the best defensive stats in the league, today we conceded (a try) because of an intercept but they didn’t really break us down otherwise. We were staring down the barrel in a final against a top team. That’s a test for any team and we passed that test superbly.”
Lansdowne had a tough day at the office come scrum time and conceded several penalties as a result of the huge Clontarf pressure. Ruddock did, however, point to Lansdowne’s dominance in the driving maul and was clearly pleased with the outcome of one in the 58th minute which helped his side regain an initiative that had been slipping away.
With Clontarf nine points clear, McSwiney was at the end of a maul that was galloping more than driving and he went in for a try that was converted by Deasy to put just two points between the sides.
Ruddock explained: “I thought our line out was good and our driving maul was excellent, it was an area we wanted to attack after seeing Cork Con hurt them in the Bateman Cup final, we knew if we could get field position we could really take them on and that is what happened.”
First blood went to Clontarf with a penalty after five minutes from full back Rob Keogh, his effort from 45 metres inch perfect on a windless day. He and Deasy exchanged penalties before Deasy found Thomas Farrell with a superb crossfield kick. He released Mark Roche for the game’s opening try, helping Lansdowne to lead 8-6 at the break.
In the second half, Keogh kicked penalties for Clontarf either side of that breakaway try from Matt Darcy and it could have been all over at 17-8. But Ruddock had no doubt about that fighting spirit in the Lansdowne camp: “We were playing against a champion team, once they (opposition) get ahead like that in a cup final it was going to be tough to oust them. But that resolve, belief and trust in each other came through for the boys.”
Back in the game courtesy of McSwiney’s converted try, Deasy nailed his final kick perfectly to keep the trophy on the southside but he will remember how his conversion of that crucial try went in off an upright, Keogh unfortunately saw his difficult 54th minute penalty attempt go the other way off the woodwork.
C Kelleher, M Roche, T Farrell, T Daly, I Fitzpatrick, S Deasy, A Griggs, P Dooley, T Moran, I Prenderville, B Moylett, S Gardiner, J McSwiney, R Boucher, A Conneely.
A Boland for Prenderville (28), T Beirne for Moylett (49), P O’Driscoll for Boucher (58), T Kiersey for Griggs (62), Boucher for O’Driscoll (75, injured).
R Keogh, C O’Brien, C O’Shea, M Darcy, M MacFarlane, E Ryan, S Cronin, I Soroka, B Byrne, R Burke-Flynn, T Byrne, B Reilly, K Moran, A Ryan, A Darcy.
T McCoy for Ryan (39, injured), A Robles for McCoy (42), I Hirst for Soroka, C O’Keeffe for Byrne (both 60), McCoy for Keogh (67), L Og Murphy for Ryan (72), D O’Meara for Cronin (75, injured), R Lichfield for B Byrne (78).
Referee: S Gallagher (IRFU)
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