YOUNG Munster suffered a heart-breaking 23-19 defeat to Lansdowne at the end of extra time in their pulsating Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-final at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Munsters’ had looked all set to score a famous win when leading 19-16 as the clock ticked into stoppage time at the end of extra time. However, Lansdowne struck the decisive blow with the last play of the game when, following a scrum five metres from the Munsters’ line, the Dublin side managed to breach their opponents line. Replacement Conor McKeown also added the conversion.
It was tough luck on a gallant Young Munster side who fought tenaciously throughout in a bid to secure a second AIL win over Lansdowne in the space of two weeks.
Lansdowne led 13-6 at the end of a thrilling opening half. Scott Deasy and Gearoid Lyons traded first quarter penalty goals before Munsters’ lost two players to the sin-bin, prop David Begley and back-row Diarmuid Dee. A second Deasy penalty had Lansdowne, who had enjoyed supremacy in the scrums in the opening quarter, 6-3 to the good. Munsters’ showed terrific resolve to draw level in the 36th minute when Willie Staunton landed a smashing drop goal.
However, the home side enjoyed a 13-6 lead at half-time when, following a terrific break from Cian Kelleher, centre Tom Daly touched down.
Resilient Young Munster hit back strongly and drew level within two minutes of the re-start when flying winger Diarmuid McCarthy raced onto Rob Guerin’s expertly placed grubber kick to score. Lyons duly converted.
The Young Munster centre also kicked a terrific 51st minute penalty goal from close to the West Stand touchline to help edge the Limerick side into a useful 16-13 lead after 51 minutes.
A Conor McKeown penalty goal 10 minutes later proved to be the final score in normal time and forced the game in extra time. Gearoid Lyons’ 86th minute penalty goal looked to be the critical score in extra-time. However, Lansdowne justified their favourites tag, if only just, with that last gasp try.
Meanwhile, Garryowen secured a quick-fire return to Division 1A with an impressive 13-3 play-off win over St Mary’s College at Templeville Road.
This was a smashing victory for Garryowen who were relegated from the top flight for the first time in their history at the end of last season and who missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season when losing to Galwegians.
Garryowen led 10-3 at half-time. After Garryowen had taken a first quarter lead through a Jamie Gavin penalty goal, St Mary’s hit back to draw level. However, the decisive score of the half arrived on the half hour mark when scrum-half Neil Cronin scampered over. Gavin duly converted