GARRYOWEN’S dream of claiming a 39th ODM Munster Senior Cup success were shattered in the most heart-breaking of fashion by Cork Constitution at the end of extra-time in Friday night’s decider played at Thomond Park.
Con’ full-back Chris Quinn landed a dramatic penalty from 30 metres out with the last kick of the match to give Con a stunning 9-6 victory and break Garryowen hearts. The penalty appeared to be awarded against Garryowen by referee Kieran Barry for time wasting at a line-out at the end of 20 minutes of extra time.
Garryowen would have won the Cup had the game finished level after extra-time because the ‘light blues’ had bagged the game’s opening score with a Jamie Gavin penalty goal.
Out-half Gavin, who had a mixed evening with the boot, had sent the final to extra time thanks to a last ditch penalty goal of his own.
Backed by a significant breeze in the opening half, Garryowen made the perfect start when out-half Jamie Gavin kicked a second minute penalty goal to give the home side an early 3-0 lead.
However, visitors Cork Con’ dominated the majority of the opening half, both in term of territory and possession, marshalled by their former Garryowen scrum-half Gerry Hurley.
In sheeting rain and a swirling wind, Con’s line-out and scrum proved a more reliable source of quality possession. Ball handling was extremely difficult, however, in the slippery, windy conditions.
Con out-half Darragh Lyons landed two penalty goals in the 12th and 19th minutes to help the Temple Hill side into a 6-3 interval lead. Garryowen’s cause was not helped by the loss of their influential flanker Shane Buckley to injury shortly before half-time.
Garryowen also lined out without either of the two O’Mahony brothers, Barry and Ronan, both of whom are on Munster’s replacements bench for Saturday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Scarlets at Musgrave Park.
Garryowen, who are rooted to the foot of Division 1A of the AIL, upped their performance several notches in the second half. The Dooradoyle side increased their intensity and workrate, especially at the breakdown, while their scrum also improved considerably.
However, the Dooradoyle side were unable to penetrate an impressive Con’, defence and Gavin’s penalty goal in stoppage time was all Tom Tierney’s charges had to show for their improved display.
Garryowen were the better side through much of extra-time, but while the ‘light blues’ dominated territory, the Limerick side again they failed to convert a number of kickable penalties. Despite those misses the Cup looked destined to go Dooradoyle on the first scorer’s rule, but the award of a controversial late penalty just as Garryowen were about to throw into a line-out gave Con’ the opportunity to retain the Cup and break Limerick hearts in a final for the second year running.
SCORERS: Garryowen: Jamie Gavin two pens. Cork Constitution: Darragh Lyons two pens, Chris Quinn pen.
GARRYOWEN: Lorcan Burke, Steve McMahon, Conan Doyle, Alan Gaughan, James McInerney; Jamie Gavin, Neil Cronin; Rory Brosnan, James Rael, Peter O’Shea; Aaron McCloskey, Darren Mulcair; Shane Buckley, Anthony Kavanagh, Mark Rowley.
Replacements: Ed Rossiter, JP Cooney, Alex Valcu, Mark Hanrahan, Andrew O’Byrne, Geoff Ryan.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Chris Quinn, Cathal Quinn, Luke Duffy, Niall Kenneally, Conor Desmond; Darragh Lyons, Gerry Hurley; Gavin Duffy, Andrew O’Driscoll, Ger Sweeney; Joe McSwiney, Cathal O’Flaherty; Graham Lawlor, James Ryan, Luke Cahill.
Replacements: Max Abbott, Brian Cagney, Rory Burke, Yasin Browne, Ryan Foley, Sonny Dwyer, Cyprian Jouve.
REFEREE: Kieran Barry (IRFU)