Cork Con brought Clontarf down to earth with a bang (and a splash) on Saturday and in doing so ended the home sides 9 game winning streak and tightened things up at the top of AIL Division 1.
Clontarf now lead by the slenderest of margins with only points differential keeping them ahead of Old Belvedere. In a game dominated by a ferocious storm swirling around Castle Avenue it was the team that managed the elements most effectively that were likely to win out. Clontarf competed well in the static phases of the game but struggled to impose themselves at the breakdown where the big Con forwards exacted sweet revenge for their earlier loss to ‘Tarf in Temple Hill.
Clontarf will rue the bad luck which saw numerous kicks at goal blown all over the ground by the storm and a number of penalty kicks to touch blown infield. Con will be relieved that in Gerry Hurley they had the perfect foil in the elements. The Con scrum half had a fine game despite taking some serious punishment which, at one point, required off field medical attention. He returned to nurse his pack through a fractious second half, kicked the winning penalty, and got a yellow card to boot. Batted for the cycle as they’d say in baseball.
Clontarf scored the only try of the game to Mick McGrath who benefited from some outstanding work inside him from Max McFarland who drifted from the left to create the two on one for Darragh Fitzpatrick who put the winger away. At that point Con were wilting but Clontarf failed to push their advantage home with one gilt edged opportunity squandered shortly after the try. There is no doubt that a show and go with two players free outside is champagne rugby when it works, when it doesn’t, in a tight game like this, it is like a mouthful of sour milk. Con rallied after Tarf failed to push on and finished the game with two penalties to Hurley who maintained cool composure to see his team into the slenderest of leads, and to victory.