Terenure v Clontarf 28th January 2023

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Terenure’s march through this year’s AIL has taken on the appearance of the  crusades from the 10th century. Storming through Irish club rugby under the black and purple banner smashing all before them. Until Saturday they had a pretty impressive run of results. Only blemish was a narrow defeat on a foggy evening in Greenfields .

The league was taking on the appearance of a race for second, with Terenure out on their own and apparently uncatchable. Clontarf have had a mixed run so far with curates egg performances, resulting in narrow victories and a sense of a misfiring engine rather than the smooth running truck of last year .

On Saturday in Lakelands, in front of a noisy partisan home crowd, Clontarf reminded the League and the attending media why they are the current champions.

When you add accuracy and tempo to pace and power you have a heady mix that is difficult to contain.


The first half was a revelation of smart rugby. Despite conceding an early 3 pointer, when they failed to catch the kick-off  Tarf regained their champions mojo and set about quietening the home support with three superb tries .

The first was a perfect example of the subtleties of power (is that an oxymoron?). All eyes in the replay will be drawn to the line break out wide by JJ O’Dea, but it was a two metre surge, close in, by Mick Kearney that steadied the faltering attack and secured that split second of time for the players out wide to make the bust. Scrum-half Angus Lloyd was on hand on the inside supporting run and scored under the posts.


The second try came 8 minutes later with a penalty kick to the corner. The predicted maul did not materialise and JJ O’Dea acted the pivot for Tony Ryan to surge for the line . He was tackled superbly, but Ivan Soroka was on hand to dot it down for the second.


The third was scored by Cian O’Donohoe, after great hands down the right by Ben Griffin and Dylan Donellan released Noah Sheridan into the 22;  the recycle was taken on by Mick Kearney and when the ball was spun wide from right to left, Matt Darcy found Tony Ryan with a wide pass and he shipped it to Tadgh Bird who put Cian in at the corner. Terenure added a penalty just on half time for a 6-19 score line at the break.

Unsurprisingly, the second half brought a resurgent Terenure. They are not league leaders for nothing. Their accuracy improved and they upped their defensive aggression, forcing turnovers and penalties. Barely 4 minutes in, Clontarf missed touch on the left and the ball was spun across the line by Nure. Craig Adams made great ground where Jordan Coughlan found a hole at the breakdown pillar and shot through to put Alan Bennie in. So 35 to go 13- 9 and game, very definitely, on.

In the 49th minute Nure earned a penalty on the Tarf line which saw Mick Kearney binned. Nure opted for the kick and brought it to 16-19. Then followed 10 minutes of solid home pressure on the Tarf line, with multiple phases of attack defended brilliantly by the Tarf 14 men.


As the game moved into the final quarter Tarf came again. At a line out to Nure the ball was slapped back and Dylan Donnellan reacted quickest to boot it well into the home 22 where Tarf regained possession on the home line. After a period of pick and go Lloyd moved it wide to Darcy who went in untouched for 16-26 and the try BP.


Ultimately the game hinged on a superb turnover on 75 minutes by Matt Darcy 5 yards from his own line after multiple phases of home pressure. A try at that point to Nure would probably have swung momentum to them with just enough time to go.


Nure earned a penalty from the ensuing lineout which was converted for 19-26 just with 3 minutes to go. Nure surged again from the kick-off but Tarf turned it over with a penalty at the breakdown and earned a penalty with normal time up. Tadgh Bird converted with what he thought was the last kick for 19-29.


Nure kicked off, regathered and scored a great try on the left for the losing bonus point.

Final score was 24-29 to Tarf. A fantastic top of the table game which was a credit to both teams and the League.

We now move into a three week break for the internationals. 6 games to go to sort out the final league positions .