The Mardyke has, no doubt, witnessed some stand-out incidents in the past, but no-one at the historic old venue could have predicted how the All Ireland League clash between UCC and Rainey Old Boys would pan out on Saturday.
From a winning position, the Old Boys fell apart, allowing the students to cash in on their mistakes and stroll to a 39-20 victory.
When the Rainey coaches get together to consider where things went wrong, high on the agenda will be their kicking game which let them down badly. To miss touch from penalties and clearances against a university side is to invite trouble and the Cork lads took full advantage to run in seven tries.
UCC were first to attack, but a good pick-up from Mitchell and a forced turnover kept them at bay. Shiels put Rainey on the front foot,but when the move broke down, a snap drop at goal from Martin sailed wide. As Rainey began to find their rhythm, left-wing Stirling was halted before play moved acrossfield where McGowan was thwarted, but from the clearance they poured forward again for hooker Fritz to open the scoring.
Centre McMurray then made a delightful break,his lovely little back flip sending Campbell into the 22’ where UCC were penalised. O’Connor made it 8-0.
When Rainey missed touch from a penalty after 20 minutes, UCC kept the ball in hand to run in an unconverted try.
The Old Boys then put together some great phases,but failed to put points on the board. The home side’s scrum-half was sin-binned for obstruction near the Cork line, but, after opting for a scrum, Rainey conceded a penalty. They lost flanker McMurray with an ankle injury and did not succeed in making the extra man count. Damien McMurray was then yellow carded and another wayward kick was punished right on the whistle when the students countered to score in the corner and lead 10-8 at the interval.
A minute into the second half, Rainey were back in front. Second-row McGowan broke into the 22’ and play was spread wide for O’Connor to stroll over. It was all downhill for Rainey from that moment on. A sliced clearance handed Cork a soft try and as they grew in confidence, Rainey struggled to get their hands on the ball.
The men in the famous skull and crossbones were everywhere and three more tries put them 34-13 ahead.
Try number seven followed before Rainey had the final say with a brilliantly taken consolation try by Stirling who outpaced several players in an 80 yard dash along the line after taking a long pass from McGowan.
Rainey: M. O’Connor, A. Campbell, D. McMurray, S. SimpsonN. Stirling, G. Martin, P. Kidd, S. Rutledge, G. Fritz, N. O’Kane, M. Shiels, P. McGowan, J. Lees, C. Mitchell, J. McMurray. Subs : A.Kirk, M. Caithness, T. Woods, J. Fleming, C. Kernoghan.