Clontarf 43 Barbarians 42


Just crowned All Ireland Champions – much to their own surprise and delight following some favourable results at the weekend – the Clontarf club and their four thousand supporters were buzzing when the Barbarians showed up in perfect spring weather to celebrate the 1,000th Anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, when the Vikings were sent packing by the home team.

And not just the club and its supporters: the team was buzzing too, in particular wingers McGrath and McFarland, who plundered five spectacular tries between them. The Barbarians, who had met each other for the first time only the previous day, soon learned that the hosts were going to throw the ball wide at every opportunity; thwarting them, however, would be another matter.

After Max McFarland scored the first of his hat-trick of tries, the visitors got on to the scoreboard with a fine try finished by lock Hayden Pugh, and Ceri Sweeney’s conversion (he was not to miss a conversion all afternoon) put the famous shirts in front for the only time during the match.

By half-time the home side had run in four more tries, but the Barbarians showed great character in keeping in touch at 31-28 with tries by Butterworth, McMaster and Rennie, all needless to say converted by the experienced Sweeney.

Two soft tries at the start of the second half gave the hosts the comfortable margin of 43-28, but the visitors fought back yet again with tries through Ritchie McMaster and finally Tom Biggs, reducing the deficit to a single point, making for a tense final ten minutes before referee Nigel Owens brought proceedings to a conclusion.

Barbarians coaches Mike Ruddock and Greig Oliver were naturally disappointed with the result but pleased with the way their team had kept in touch – diplomatically overlooking some of the defensive errors which were soon forgotten in the enthusiasm of the post-match celebrations.