Garryowenâ€™s AIL hopes were dealt a big blow on Saturday when they were beaten 23-0 at home by Lansdowne.
IT was hard to believe that these two sides came into this Ulster Bank All-Ireland League Division 1A tie deadlocked at the top of the table, such was extent of Lansdowneâ€™s superiority at a wet and windy Dooradoyle on Saturday.
Lansdowne laid down a clear marker in the title race with this convincing 23-0 away victory over fellow title contenders Garryowen. The Dublin side were highly impressive, their impressive pack bossing and bullying their opponents in the forward exchanges, while the visitors showed a clinical edge behind the scrum to convert their superiority into scores.
Lansdowne were highly impressive in the opening half when playing into the teeth of a strong gale and driving rain. The visitors retained possession superbly, despite the slippery, wild conditions, building phases and pressure which forced the â€˜light bluesâ€™ into conceding penalties.
With Heineken Cup medal winner, John Cooney running the show from scrum-half, Lansdowne racked up the points, two first quarter penalties from Craig Ronaldson quickly followed by a pair of tries from Ross McCarron and Rob McCarthy.
Garryowen struggled to get their hands on the football and on the rare occasion they managed it, their best intentions were undone by errors.
Trailing 18-0 at the break and playing into elements for the second period, Garryowen were chasing some kind of respectability. While the light blues limited their visitors to one further try â€“ denying them a bonus point â€“ overall this was a thoroughly disappointing display from the â€˜light bluesâ€™ in front of the home supporters. While Garryowen were forced to line out without up to seven first team squad members, including the likes of talented young out-half Jamie Gavin, team captain Dave Sherry, and fellow back-row forwards Barry Oâ€™Mahony and Shane Buckley as well as utility back Matt Jarvis, Lansdowne, now four points clear at the top of the table, were also missing several first team regulars.
Garryowen donâ€™t have long to lick their wounds following this heavy defeat, as Cork Con arrive in Dooradoyle on Saturday next (4pm) and Tom Tierneyâ€™s young side face the return AIL fixture with Lansdowne in Dublin towards the middle of next month.
Afterwards Garryowenâ€™s disappointed head coach Tom Tierney admitted his side â€˜werenâ€™t at the racesâ€™ through much of the opening half:
Tierney said: â€œIt was one of those days. Over the course of the season, there will be a day when everything you donâ€™t want to happen, occurs in the opening 15 to 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we werenâ€™t at the races.
â€œLansdowne came out of the traps and totally dominated and set the foundation for the full 80 minutes. We didnâ€™t have any answer on the day, unfortunately.
â€œThankfully, Lansdowne didnâ€™t get a bonus point. It was very important for those last 10 minutes that we didnâ€™t ship five points of a difference. That is something to build on. It was one of those days when things didnâ€™t go our way.
â€œWe have to get back on the horse again. We have Cork Con here on Saturday and Lansdowne away two weeks later. They are two massive games.
â€œIt will tell a lot about us. The start of the season has been good to us, but we were beaten by a better team. Lansdowne are rightly favourites for the League. It is about taking it on the chin today and coming back strongly against Conâ€™.â€
SCORERS â€“ Lansdowne: Ross McCarron, Rob McCarthy, Ron Boucher try each, Craig Ronaldson two pens, one con.
GARRYOWEN FC â€“ Ronan Oâ€™Mahony; Lorcan Bourke, Corey Hircock, Conan Doyle, Cian Oâ€™Shea; Geoff Ryan, Neil Cronin; Rory Brosnan, James Rael, JP Cooney; Alan Kennedy, Aaron McCloskey; Conor Hartigan, Anthony Kavanagh, TJ Anderson. Replacements: Dave Rowley, Peter Oâ€™Shea, Mark Melbourne, Mark Hanrahan, James McInerney.
LANSDOWNE â€“ Ross McCarron; Ferdia Doherty, Mark Roche, Greg Stafford, Bob McCarthy; Craig Donaldson, John Cooney; Jack Oâ€™Connell, Tom Sexton, Martin Moore; Marc Feeley, Willie Earl; Clive Ross, Charlie Butterworth, Ron Boucher. Replacements: Steve Collins, Richard Liddington, Dan Mannion, Paddy Oâ€™Driscoll, Shane Kelly.
REFEREE â€“ Alain Rolland (IRFU