UCD 16, Thomond 32: UCD were second best to a clinical Thomond side who had revenge in mind after last week’s loss, writes Killian Woods.
Hoping to follow up their narrow AIB Cup win from last week, UCD took on Thomond for the second successive week on a cold and blustery afternoon at the Belfield Bowl on Saturday in the AIB All-Ireland League. Showing flashes of their best form, UCD came up against a Thomond side that was more clinical than that of last week and were second best most of the match.
Opening proceedings were scrappy with Thomond having most of the ball in the first ten minutes. Their patient pick and drive play led to Collidge giving away a penalty in their 22, gifting Thomond fly-half Declan Cusack the chance to open the scoring from a close range penalty against the wind.
UCD replied to Thomond’s pressure with two penalties from Noel Reid, one of which was a long-range attempt from just inside the home side’s own half. Unfortunately for the home side, these six points would prove to be Collidge’s last until the 75th minute, as Thomond took the opportunities that came their way.
Utilising the maul well, the visitors’ persistent build-up play allowed Dara O’Neill to touch down for the opening try of the afternoon. However, their mistakes allowed UCD back into the game and but for the home side’s failure to recycle possession close to the try line, UCD would have scored more points in the first half.
Thomond kicked off the second half as conditions showed no sign of settling down. UCD retained the ball for two phases, only for some bad handling to leave the ball loose and spinning towards the UCD try line. Thomond’s Warren Kelly competed with four college players to grab the loose ball and managed to pounce on it first to score with the conversion following.
The visitor’s confidence grew after they went 15-6 ahead and extended their lead with a drop goal from Cusack after 47 minutes. UCD tried to fight their way back into the game, but whenever they seemed to find some momentum, ill-discipline and clumsy play handed the initiative back to Thomond.
This was highlighted by the manner of Thomond’s third try of the match. After UCD attempted to play their way out of trouble, a weak pass in midfield was intercepted by Darren Clancy, who raced towards the line to score.
Comfortably sitting nineteen points ahead, Thomond attacked seeking their bonus point and were rewarded eight minutes from time when Declan O’Connell crashed over.
UCD scored two consolation tries in the last five minutes, through Terry Jones and Kevin Croke. The build-up play for the two tries showpieced just how well Collidge can play, with good offloading in midfield from Shane Grannell keeping play flowing.
The hosts’ rally was too little too late and could be attributed to Thomond having nothing to play for after already gaining their bonus point. This loss could be an eye-opener for the squad showing that promotion from Division 2 will not be a formality.