Corinthians 31 - 3 Connemara

November 7, 2018

Corinthians head into the Christmas break in pole position on the AIL third division league ladder after a crushing victory against Connemara in the Connacht derby at a cold Cloonacauneen on Saturday.

The much-anticipated showdown failed to live up to its billing as the hosts strolled to a four-try bonus point win with Tadgh Linnane, Darren Murphy and a brace from the prolific Darren Classens doing the damage.

Six league places and seven points separated the pair heading into the game but historically encounters between these sides are tight and tetchy with Connemara one of the harder teams in the league to beat.

Unfortunately for the visitors, their trademark mix of industry and intensity fell below the required standards on Saturday and the hosts came out on top in every department.

Victory came at a cost as Tim Donnelly, Corinthians star turn this season, was forced off before the break with what looked like a serious injury. At that stage, the hosts lead 17-3 – Connemara’s lone score coming from the boot of flyhalf Sean Joyce on seven minutes.

Corinthians provided a stinging riposte through a Tadgh Linnane try on 14 minutes after a clean ball off the top of an attacking lineout by Aurelian Casanova. Donnelly and Rory Connellan had cuts at the line before Linnane exploited an overlap to cross to the left of the posts.

After a hurling hiatus that ended in a day out at Pearse Stadium on Joe Canning in the county final, the Gort native enjoyed an auspicious return to Corinthians colours with all action display at openside.

Donnelly added a tricky conversion for 7-3 but failed to nail a 24th minute penalty from near the 10-metre line after Bennie Bester was pinged for failing to release after a tackle by Cian Begley. Joyce kicked the restart out on the full and from the resulting scrum Mike Roche broke right and fed Classens who used his strength and speed to burst over by the corner flag. Donnelly’s touchline conversion advanced Corinthians lead to 14-3 as the Australian once again proved influential at outhalf. A great tackle by Paddy O’Toole, in his first outing for Connemara this season, prevented Classens widening the gap on the half hour mark. Donnelly failed to see out the half as he was snagged in possession by a Kevin Keogh tackle that resulted in the Connacht player carried off just before the interval.   

Connemara conceded a penalty deep in their own half for feet in a ruck and Wayne Williams booted the penalty to put Corinthians into a comfortable position at the turn.

Connemara badly needed a score to make a game of it and Joyce went close when he intercepted Williams’ attempted skip pass but Corinthians’ scramble defence got back to bolt the door shut.

Instead of the Connemara score needed to keep it interesting, the home side struck again when Seamus Murphy pounced on a loose ball and Ritchie Forbes sent the flying Darren Murphy away down the left wing for the third try of the game on 55 minutes. Williams’ conversion left the score 24-3 and the only remaining question was whether Corinthians would earn a fourth try bonus point.

Paddy O’Toole swapped places with Sean Joyce and got his backline moving a little better but the damage was already done and the home pack matched and surpassed the visiting eight while behind the scrum Corinthians held all the aces.

A break by Roche set up Classens for his second of the afternoon just before the hour mark with Williams’ conversion completing the scoring at 31-3. Williams departed with injury in the closing quarter but Corinthians continued to turn the screw and a hair-brained, half headbutt by Frankie Leonard saw the Connemara hooker red carded with the clock winding down. Corinthians remain well placed to mount a serious promotion run in the New Year while Connemara will have to wait until next season for a shot at revenge.

 Corinthians: Darren Classens; Ritchie Forbes, Wayne Williams, Cian Begley, Darren Murphy; Tim Donnelly, Mike Roche; Paul McCrannor, Dave Barden, Dave Small, Seamus Murphy, Pat Cunningham (capt), Rory Connellan, Tadgh Linnane, Aurelian Casanova.

Subs: Ronnie Ferguson for Tim Donnelly (inj) (39mins), Ray Fleming for Aurelian Casanova (53mins), Mike Kelly for Dave Small (64mins), Barry McCann for Rory Connellan (67mins), Sean Geraghty for Wayne Williams (inj) (75mins).


Connemara: Paddy O’Toole; Eoin Bourke, Paddy Madden, Bennie Bester, Richard Bourke; Sean Joyce, Gary Conroy; Jason East, Frankie Leonard, Emmett Ferron; Aden Kelly, Kevin Keogh; Martin Coyne, Ollie Delapp, Bernard Keaney (capt).

Subs: Peter O’Toole for Richard Bourke (h/t), David McHugh for Aden Kelly (57mins), Kevin Barry for Emmett Ferron (69mins).

Match report courtesy of Brian Bolger.