Clontarf v Garryowen

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4 December 2021; Both sides contest a line-out during the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1A match between Clontarf and Dublin University at Castle Avenue in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Clontarf 36 Garryowen 10

How often have you attended a rugby game where it seems less life threatening on the pitch than it does off it ? Saturday’s match in Castle Avenue on the G4 pitch went ahead despite brutal Arctic weather conditions which pushed temperatures below freezing and added a gloomy and clinging freezing fog to the event as well .

The game, on paper, should have been straightforward and at the final whistle that was what would be assumed given the size of the victory . However, as is inevitable when you have games between top and bottom in a league, it tends to impact the performance of the, on paper, stronger side who often become impressed by their own superiority enough to add some bells and whistles to their game early on which neither ring nor peep . And so it was, that Clontarf huffed and puffed like a red coated English Grenadier Guards division and Garryowen resisted manfully like Boer irregulars in South Africa .

Garryowen are in a squad rebuilding phase which in Div 1A of the league is like being a beef burger in a piranha tank . Despite their gallant efforts they are currently fighting an uphill battle. They will need luck and, from the look of it on Saturday, serious development in their set piece to lay solid foundations to their courageous youthful endeavours.

Clontarf started powerfully and were on the scoreboard with a maul try to Donellan after 5 minutes. They then settled into a pattern of bashing through the away defence towards, but not quite over, their line. Some seal like handling, wobbly link play, and breakdown inaccuracies saw numerous chances go astray. Garryowen took some heart from this and after gaining cheap access to the home 22, managed a try from a line out and some close-in driving. In the final 5 of the half Tarf managed another breakthrough through the now very familiar intervention of Dylan Donellan rumbling along behind his fat bottomed friends. Con Kelly added the conversion and there was just enough time for the visitors to kick a pen for 12 10 at half time .
After the half time hot whiskeys and a reset chat Clontarf returned to the fray with focus restored . Garryowen had defended manfully for the first half, had expended a pot of energy and had benefitted from more than a share of good luck. That was all to change .

The second half opened with an outrageous exit kick from Ben Murphy from inside his own 22 that resulted in a Garryowen line out 15 yards inside their half. Tarf won a penalty at the resulting lineout and despite losing possession stayed camped in the red zone until repeated scrum infringements earned a penalty try .

A few minutes later Tarf drove a scrum 10 yards from their 22 and the kick brought them back onto the visitor’s line. Despite conceding a penalty, Tarf won back the ball at the line out and moved right to left for Courtney to put Hugh Cooney in at the corner for 24 10 . From the resulting kick off Tarf Captain Darcy was first to react to a wicked bounce and went all the way for 29 10 . That pretty much sucked out whatever wind was left in the Garryowen sails and the game from that point on was done . One final score to Ben Murphy closed proceedings on the scoring front . It was left to the referee to blow for the end a few minutes early after sub hooker Barry Gray was stricken by an accidental blow to the head .

So the first half of the League comes to an end with Tarf firmly in second place 3 points behind our great rivals Terenure .

Happy Christmas to all ! …… Roll on 2023 !!