Lansdowne bridged an 87-year gap, bringing the Bateman Cup back to to the club for the first time since 1931 as they defeated defending champions Cork Constitution 32-12 at Temple Hill.
Seeking their sixth Bateman Cup success in-a-row, Cork Con’s dominance of the historic All-Ireland competition came to an end in sun-splashed Leeside, as Mike Ruddock’s men completed the first leg of a potential league and cup double.
Scott Deasy, Lansdowne’s man-of-the-match and a former Constitution favourite, closed out the first half of this keenly-contested final with a penalty which gave the Dubliners an 8-5 lead at the break, the sides trading well-taken tries from Liam O’Connell and Alan Bennie.
The headquarters club tellingly strung together three unanswered tries up to the hour mark, second row Josh O’Rourke muscling over, Adam Leavy scoring from a favourable bounce and then centre Mark O’Keeffe ran in an intercept score that had Con 20 points behind.
Brian Hickey’s charges rallied with a 70th-minute converted try from Munster lock Darren O’Shea who was sprung from the bench, but fleet-footed winger Leavy turned provider to send Corkman Eamonn Mills over for Lansdowne’s fifth try and the icing on the cake.
Con had taken the lead with a scintillating try at the end of the opening quarter.
Luke Cahill’s lineout steal launched them forward, captain Niall Kenneally’s inviting pass putting McHenry racing up into the 22, and after Cahill’s soft hands released Brian Hayes on a diagonal burst, the lock’s superb pass out the back door put winger O’Connell over in the corner with a clinical finish past two defenders.
Lansdowne found a response by the half hour mark. Foster Horan and Brennan both found gaps in the home defence, before scrum half Bennie – spotting a missing Con pillar at a ruck – sniped into the 22, side-footed through and beat Daly to the touchdown.
Deasy missed the conversion but landed a 38th minute penalty for the lead at the break.
The second period was scrappy and evenly-balanced until Lansdowne struck for their second try, nine minutes in. Deasy kicked into space with a clever punt, the pacy Mills getting up to gather it, and Bennie and Horan straightened up the attack before lock O’Rourke used brute strength to burrow over for a five-pointer.
Fortune favoured the visitors four minutes later when Con winger Rob Jermyn was caught out by a horrible bounce from a Mills kick, and Leavy swooped in to score to the left of the posts.
And when Quinlan’s pass – in the midst of a momentum-building set of phases – was gobbled up by O’Keeffe to sprint over, the tie and the cup was already winging its way up to Dublin.