Corinthians had a try by winger Dave Murphy three minutes from time to thank for getting them out of jail against Sunday’s Well at a cold but sunny Cloonacauneen on Saturday. The hosts produced their worst performance of the season in front of a good home crowd as they struggled to match the visitors’ superior work rate and aggression. The Cork side entered the contest with a solitary win from five outings while Corinthians started with their only defeat coming in their last game against Old Wesley. The hosts might have read too much into that particular statistic as they were sluggish and sloppy throughout and were fortunate to prevail at the end of an uninspiring contest.
Corinthians opened the scoring on six minutes - Tim Donnelly’s shared disappointment at Ravenhill the previous evening having little effect on the Aussie outhalf, who knocked over a simple penalty to send his side in front. The hosts showed their class early on with a couple of big carries from Darren Classens and Aurelian Casanova gaining good ground in the opposition half, but Sunday’s Well stuck to their task with admirable application and did the simple things well.
A great intercept by Karl Rothwell almost lead to the first try of the game but Classens got back well to deny ‘Well’s scrumhalf near the home whitewash, but Corinthians went off their feet at the resultant ruck, presenting a simple equalising penalty for outhalf Chris Burnett on 12 minutes.
Donnelly’s smart dink ahead almost had Wayne Williams over down the other end moments later before a lovely arcing run by Murphy saw the lively left wing exchange passes with Classens to cross for a try but the score was rightly called back for a forward pass. Donnelly popped a penalty back off the upright before another attack deep in Well’s ’22 was intercepted by wing Ian O’Regan who ran the length of the field to touch down in the corner. Burnett miscued the conversion and with 22 minutes played the visitors led 8-3. It was a little early to press the panic button, as Corinthians had looked the better side up to that point but poor execution led to a litany of forward passes, knock ons and turnovers thereafter.
A penalty within range on 25 minutes was despatched to the corner by Donnelly and the attacking lineout ended with the ball spilled forward. On a rare foray into Corinthians’ half Burnett made no mistakes with a penalty from a similar position on the half hour mark to send the visitors 11-3 up. From a scrum close to the visitors’ line, number eight Tomali Tsoli was driven back by a double hit from Mick Roche and Sean Geraghty and Cian Begley reacted quickest to ground the spilled ball over the line. Donnelly’s conversion was inches wide but Corinthians fashioned another good attacking position moments later, but Joe Merrigan cut inside with numbers wide to concede a penalty for crossing.
Burnett had the final say in the opening half when he knocked over a penalty in injury time when Corinthians were penalised on their own put in, to leave it 14-8 to the visitors.
The second half proved even less entertaining than the opening act as the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession without managing to do much with it. Sunday’s Well looked limited themselves but did enough up front to deny the home side any rhythm or momentum. A lovely drop goal on the run by Donnelly on 52 minutes brought the score back to 14-11 but the hosts failed to follow it up with any real impetus as ‘Well kept slugging away.
With time running out the Cork side appeared well on their way to returning south with the win their efforts deserved but Corinthians’ class finally told. A fine flowing backline move involving Donnelly, Begley, Williams and Classens fell to Murphy to finish and the winger crossed on 77 minutes much to the relief of the home faithful. Donnelly’s conversion put it out of ‘Well’s reach but Corinthians can hardly afford too many similar performances if they are to continue their assault on the third division table.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Connemara enjoyed a good win on the road, edging out Banbridge by 12-7 in Rifle Park, while in the AIL first division Galwegians went down 25-7 to Cork Con at Temple Hill.
Corinthians: Darren Classens, David Murphy, Wayne Williams, Cian Begley, Richard Forbes, Tim Donnelly, Mick Roche, Tom Stapleton, Joe Merrigan, Dave Small, Seamus Murphy, Pat Cunningham, Rory Connellan, Sean Geraghty, Aurelian Casanova.
Subs: Paul McCrannor for Tom Stapleton (16mins ), Barry McCann for Dave Small (inj ) (55mins ), Cormac McGuickian for Seamus Murphy (74mins ).
Sunday’s Well: Colin Corkery, Ian O’Regan, Sean Carlin, Greg Mulligan, David Twohig, Chris Burnett, Karl Rothwell, Joe Moynihan, Fintan Whelan, Sean Walsh, Til Selting, David O’Connell, Eamonn Murphy, John Quill, Tomali Tsoli.
Subs: Mick Moynihan for David O’Connell (h/t ), Cormac O’Hare for Sean Carlin (inj ) (65mins ).
Referee: Dave O’Flynn.