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Mark Sidebottom talks to Paddy Johns
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Dungannon coach Willie Anderson
''It's absolutely sensational''
 real 14k

Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Dungannon storm home
Willie Anderson
Coach Willie Anderson leads Dungannon's celebrations
Cork Constitution 12-46 Dungannon

Dungannon charged to glory with a thrilling victory over former champions Cork Constitution to lift the AIB League title at Lansdowne Road.

It was as comprehensive a victory as the scoreline suggests with the Tyronemen becoming the first Ulster side to take the crown since it's inception a decade ago.

Constitution were the first winners back in 1990/91, but apart from the opening minutes, they were never going to have a 10th anniversary celebration.

Constitution took a first-minute lead through a Conor Mahony drop goal, but that was the only time they were ahead.

Paddy Johns
Dungannon's skipper Johns is grounded

With the boot of Ireland fly-half David Humphreys keeping the scoreboard ticking along in Dungannon's favour, Constitution had to play second fiddle.

Humphreys missed only once from 11 attempts in collecting 26 points of metronomic kicking to compliment his tactical nous.

On the day, that was the difference between the two sides.

Constitution, who won the title two seasons ago, missed Lions tourist Ronan O'Gara.

O'Gara's orchestration and game awareness was a big absentee from the Constitution ranks which included too many turnovers.

Looked nervous

Mahony, who had to wear O'Gara's number 10 jersey, was nervous and the Con backline never functioned as a unit.

Dungannon, on the other hand, had real class behind the scrum with Humphreys calling the shots.

Ryan Constable, Jonathan Bell and Tyrone Howe revelled with the sun on their backs while scrum-half Stephen Bell had a game to remember.

The former Ulster pivot was playing his last game for Dungannon before switching his allegiance to Bedford next season.

But he left his mark with a brilliant link up with Humphreys and scoring the first try of the game to give Dungannon a lead they never lost.

Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell runs in a Con brick wall

His strike came in the 28th minute as he hustled his opposite number Brian O'Meara into a mistake before diving on the lose ball to score.

O'Meara, who had taken over the kicking duties from the absent O'Gara, knocked over a second penalty in first-half injury time to leave Dungannon 16-9 ahead at the break.

But once Humphreys started to get his right boot into the swing of things, it was curtains for the men from Cork.

Humphreys, who will be at number 10 for Ireland next week against Romania, knocked over a penalty and then a cheeky dropped goal.

He then landed a touchline conversion of Jonathan Bell's try which was set up on a plate in the 48th minute by the excellent number 8 Tony McWhirter.

O'Meara did manage to land another penalty in the 67th minute, but there was no way back for Constitution.

Willie Anderson
Tears of joy for coach Willie Anderson

They could not breach a well-organised Dungannon defence, but the Ulstermen had the pace and guile to inflict further punishment in the final five minutes.

First flanker Alistair Boyd crashed over at a line-out with Humphreys converting from the touchline and adding his fifth penalty.

Howe then wrapped it up with a solo effort from one of the many Constitution errors.

Constable picked up a dropped pass on the half-way to send Howe charging down the left wing.

A deft kick ahead and a race to the line saw the Ireland winger claim his side's fourth try - and ultimate glory.

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See also:

26 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Clockwatch: Cork Constitution 12-46 Dungannon
25 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Paddy chases bit of history
24 May 01 |  Northern Ireland
Backs can ensure Dungannon win
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