The Ulster Bank League goes into hibernation now until January but Garryowen can end the year with a deserved smile on their face as they sit proudly on top of Division 1A after a wonderful 28-20 win over St Mary’s in Dooradoyle on Saturday.
Champions St Mary’s came to Dooradoyle on Saturday badly needing a win but Garryowen started at such a pace that the Dubliners were always on the back foot. Coupled with Young Munster’s win over leaders Lansdowne in Tom Clifford Park, it means that Tom Tierney’s men end the calendar year on top of the table.
Young Munster were in the exact same position this time 12 months ago but tailed off in the New Year. Garryowen don’t need reminding that they aren’t halfway through the season but their form has been impressive, they’ve a fine team and they’ve earned their position.
There will be plenty of new challenges in January but they’ll face them with huge enthusiasm.
The hosts got off to a brilliant start when Cian O’Shea crossed for their first try in the opening minute and they built on that when Conan Doyle added their second shortly after. Jamie Gavin converted Doyle’s try and then added two penalties. With less than half an hour gone, Garryowen were 18-0 up. There was still plenty of time to play but for Mary’s they faced a long way back.
But they made a fight of it. Ciaran Ruddock got a try before then break and a Gavin Dunne penalty left it 18-8 to the home side at the break.
St Mary’s were right back in it early in the second half when Matt Darcy touched down and Dunne’s conversion meant there was only three points in it.
That was as close as it got though. Gavin settled the nerves with a penalty and a try from Ireland U-20 player Shane Buckley put them clear again. Gavin’s conversion had them 28-13 in front.
St Mary’s did get a late try from Kurt Haupt; another try would have got them two bonus points but there was to be no more scores and Garryowen held on.
GARRYOWEN - Ronan O’Mahony; Cian O’Shea, Conan Doyle, Matt Jarvis, Lorcan Burke; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin; Rory Brosnan, James Rael, Peter O’Shea, Alan Kennedy, Aaron McCloskey, Shane Buckley, Anthony Kavanagh, David Sherry (Capt).Replacements: Dave Rowley, Brendan Cullinane, Cian Hartigan, E Connolly, Geoff Ryan
ST MARY’S - Conor Hogan; Steve Taol Lennon, Rob Hudson, Andrew Burke, Marcus O’ Driscoll; Philip Brophy, Matthew D’Arcy; Colm McMahon, Richard Sweeney (Capt), Robert Sweeney, Ciaran Ruddock, Gerry Sexton, Kurt Haupt, Gareth Austin, Kevin Croke Replacements: Arthur Lyons, Tom O’Reilly, Darragh Keller, Kevin Sheahan, Joe Burns, Ryan O’Loughlin.