It was a windswept Sunday afternoon that welcomed Clontarf to the McDowell Memorial Grounds as Suttonians went head to head against their near neighbours in the semi-final of the Leinster Metropolitan Cup.
The home side were on top in the earlier exchanges, with a solid scrum always having the visitors on the back foot. And pressure turned to points for Suttonians on 19 minutes, when Dave Traynor went down the left flank and great work by Andrew Ussher saw Dara Kelly touch down in the corner, a try which was duly converted by Conor Jennings.
However, the visitors were not to be outdone and in the 34th minute ‘Tarf scored a fortuitous try against the run of play and which saw the contest evenly balanced on 7 apiece at the interval.
But it was the third quarter when Suttonians’ fortunes turned and the referee saw red for handbags in the home side 22 and Michael McGiff left the field of play. Suttonians were now down to 14, with almost 25 minutes to play. Clontarf were quick to profit, scoring two converted tries and a penalty to leave the homeside trailing 24-7.
But Suttonians refused to buckle and despite the fact that the team had seen more reshuffles than Keith Barry’s cards on a poker night, they brought the game to ‘Tarf, scoring two further tries. The first by Ronan Patterson and then Liam Litchfield stuck at the heart of ‘Tarf and hit the whitewash under the post. Conor Jennings added the extras and it was suddenly a 3 point game, with 5 minutes to play.
The closing stages saw the Clontarf line under siege and helped maybe by the heat of the moment and some naivety on the part of the referee, they managed to hold out against a heroic Suttonians rear guard.
At the final whistle, both sides had given their all. Clontarf had taken the honors, Suttonians had come up just inches short and in a howling gale, the rain started to pelt and the crowd adjourned for a well earned respite, knowing Rugby was the real winner in this contest.
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