YOUNG Munster’s dream of claiming a first Ulster Bank League Division 1 title in 23 years were shattered by Cork Constitution in their dramatic semi-final showdown at Temple Hill on Saturday.
Two late tries, one a penalty try in the final minute of normal time, helped the home side record a 22-16 victory.
David Corkery’s Young Munster side had looked set for an AIL final appearance at the Aviva Stadium on May 8 when leading 16-10. However, two late yellow cards ultimately proved very costly for the visitors.
This is the second year in succession that Young Munster have lost a top flight AIL semi-final.
Young Munster got off to the ideal start when centre Gearoid Lyons kicked the Limerick side into a 3-0 lead after two minutes.
Cork Con hit back with the game's opening try four minutes later when, following a powerful scrum on the Munsters' five metre line, centre Niall Kenneally pounced to score from close range.
Out-half Tomas Quinlan duly converted for a 7-3 lead. Lyons missed an opportunity to reduce Con's lead at the end of the first quarter, but he was off target with a penalty attempt from the Con 10 metre line.
Con retained their 7-3 lead to half-time in a largely error-ridden, disappointing opening half.
Munsters' hit back strongly in the third quarter as two further penalty goals from Lyons in the 51st and 63rd minutes saw the Greenfields side into a useful 9-7 lead.
Con also lost hooker Max Abbott to the sin-bin during that spell.
However, Con hit back immediately when Quinlan kicked a 65th minute penalty goal to help the home side into a 10-9 lead.
Howevrer, the momentum swung back in Munsters' favour in the 70th minute. Centre Lyons initiated the move with a terrific break up the right wing. The ball was quickly recycled, with scrum-half Griesel throwing a skip pass out and Craig O'Hanlon was on hand to score.
Lyons superbly added the conversion for a 16-10 lead. Munsters' suffered a blow almost from the re-start as second row Sean Duggan was sin-binned.
And Munsters' were down to 13 players when Con forced two penalties off scrums deep inside the Munsters' 22.
The referee awarded a penalty try as Con drove the Munster scrum backwards. Quinlan converted from in front of the posts for a 17-16 lead to the home side.
Centre Niall Kenneally scored his second and Con's third try in added time to seal the home side's win on a 22-16 scoreline.
SCORERS: Cork Constitution: Niall Kenneally two tries, pen try, Tomas Quinlan pen, two cons. Young Munster: Craig O'Hanlon try, Gearoid Lyons three pens, con.