At a misty Mardyke arena, UCC Seniors scraped past a spirited Dolphin side to win 20-19. In what was overall a largely entertaining game, the first twenty minutes were a stalemate with the sin-binning of UCC captain Ryan Murphy for a dangerous tackle on Dolphin back Cian McGovern being the main talking point. The deadlock was finally broken in the 24th minute when a penalty was slotted between the posts by the visitor’s fly-half, Barry Keeshan.
Four minutes later, with their captain back on the pitch, the students had an opportunity to level the game, but fly-half James Taylor kicked it to the right and wide. Yet, UCC’s fortunes improved dramatically as winger Kevin Slater made a swift lay-off to John Poland who sailed over the line for the first try of the match. The conversion was clinically scored by Taylor, bringing the game to 7-3, in favour of the students.
A Keeshan penalty reduced the students’ lead to one, yet UCC soon nudged their noses in front with another Taylor penalty to bring the game to 10-6 as the first half drew to a close.
With the misty rain clearing for a brief spell, the second half sparked to life with exceptionally strong scrummaging from the students. Yet, it was the Musgrave Park outfit who opened the second half scoring, with a well-taken penalty by Keeshan narrowing the students’ lead to 10-9. After a brief pause in play due to an injury suffered by Dolphin’s Rob O’Herlihy, UCC were awarded another penalty only to be narrowly missed by Taylor.
After several attempts to breakdown the Dolphin defence, dynamic scrum-half Poland finally broke through to make a quick pass to Richard Walsh who breezed over the line with a fabulously taken try. Taylor’s conversion extended the students’ lead by eight with a scoreline of 17-9. Dolphin failed to give in, however, as substitute Anthony Mason’s try and Keeshan’s impeccable conversion brought the margin down to one, once more.
Dolphin took the lead for the second time in the game with a well-taken penalty by Cian McGovern to nudge the visitors in front by two and to set up a nervy finish for both sides. Yet, Dolphin’s hopes of a second division win were short-lived as Taylor calmly stepped up to the mark to slot over a penalty, making the final score 20-19. The win pushes UCC up to fourth place in the league, and whilst this defeat gifts the visitors a losing bonus point, Dolphin remain at the bottom of the table. Next up for the students is a home encounter against Ballynahinch, while Dolphin are left to ponder on what could have been ahead of their next home game against U.L.
UCC: R Walsh; K Slater; C Bohane; M Linn; J Kiernan; J Taylor; J Poland; S O’Hanlon; T McCarthy; R O’Donovan; B Mitchell; D Moloney; J O’Sullivan; D Feeney; R Murphy (c).
Rolling Subs: J Hodnett; B O’Connor; C Barry; P Sylvester; P Kiernan.
Dolphin RFC: O Crowley; C McGovern; I O’Donoghue; C Sisk; W Hanley; B Keeshan; D Foley; L Walsh; D Byrne; J Rochford (c); R O’Herlihy; D O’Mahony; B Fitzgerald; K Allen; K O’Leary.
Rolling Subs: A Mason; D Collins; A Denby; J Vaughan; K O’Keeffe.