Corinthians enjoyed a bumper Christmas bonus at the weekend, leaping into pole position in the AIB League division three.
They did so with a convincing win over local side Connemara in a much-anticipated encounter in Corinthian Park, to grab their sixth win from seven outings.
The win puts them top of the table on 27 points with Queen’s University and Midleton following on 24 points.
In the past clashes between Corinthians and local rivals Connemara have been much tighter and harder fought, but this encounter failed to live up to expectations.
Connemara had opened the scoring with a penalty from flyhalf Sean Joyce on seven minutes, but this was to be their only score of the match.
Corinthians replied through a Tadgh Linnane try on 14 minutes when a clean ball from an attacking lineout by Aurelian Casanova went to Donnelly and Connellan before Linnane exploited an overlap to cross the try line. Donnelly added a tricky conversion for 7-3 but missed a penalty 10 minutes later near the 10-metre line after Bennie Bester was penalised for failing to release after a tackle by Cian Begley.
The subsequent restart was kicked out on the full and from the resulting scrum Mike Roche broke right and passed to Classens who made a great break to score a try in the corner. Donnelly’s successful conversion brought the score to 14-3.
A superb tackle by Paddy O’Toole prevented Corinthians adding to this score with 30 minutes played, while Donnelly was also forced to leave with an injury. Wayne Willimas took over the kicking duties and successfully struck a penalty for a 17-3 half-time lead.
Connemara came close to reducing the arrears when Joyce intercepted a Williams’ attempted skip pass, but Corinthians’ defence was not to be broken. They then added their third try when Seamus Murphy took advantage of a loose ball and Ritchie Forbes got it away to Darren Murphy on 55 minutes. Williams’ conversion left the score 24-3 with the valuable fourth try bonus point within reach.
Classens scored his second try of the afternoon coming up to 60 minutes after a break by Roche, and Williams’ conversion left the score at 31-3.
Corinthians continue their promotion push in the New Year with a tough opening game on January 17 away against third placed Midleton.
Corinthians: D Classens, R Forbes, W Williams, C Begley, D Murphy; T Donnelly, M Roche, P McCrannor, D Barden, D Small, S Murphy, P Cunningham (capt ), R Connellan, T Linnane, A Casanova. Subs: R Ferguson for T Donnelly (39mins ), R Fleming for A Casanova (53mins ), M Kelly for Dave Small (64mins ), B McCann for R Connellan (67mins ), S Geraghty for W Williams (75mins ).
Connemara: P O’Toole, E Bourke, P Madden, B Bester, R Bourke, S Joyce, G Conroy, J East, F Leonard, E Ferron, A Kelly, K Keogh, M Coyne, O Delapp, B Keaney (capt ). Subs: P O’Toole for R Bourke (h/t ), D McHugh for A Kelly (57mins ), K Barry for E Ferron (69mins ).
Referee: J Montayne.