Ten seasons ago Dolphin finished in the Top 4 for the first time and also made the Semi final of the AIB Cup for the first time.
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The season started well with a home 13-12 victory over Cork Constitution with Barry Keeshan kicking a penalty and a drop goal in addition to converting a penalty try. Debutants that day included Sam Cronin, Danny Barnes, and as substitute Julien Brugnaut.
They made it three victories in a row defeating Clontarf away and Shannon at home. The Clontarf victory came at a cost with Dave Ryan needing surgery on his elbow- they were happy with their 2nd half performance having come from 19-3 down at half time to win 20-19 before losing 19-10 to St Mary’s College in Templeville Road.
Things did not get better the following week in a home loss 0-3 to UL Bohemians- this is still the lowest scoring game Dolphin have played in their 418 All Ireland League games.
A second victory in Dublin over Blackrock College 12-6 was the final game before Christmas. The only try was scored by James Coughlan, it was fitting that Chucken, Dolphin’s top try scorer scored the clubs 500th try in AIL League & Cup competitions. It was Barry Keeshan’s 15th drop goal in 75 AIL appearances.
In mid January Dolphin were away to Shannon, there were a couple of significant changes to the team as Barry Keeshan, James Coughlan,Andy O’Driscoll and Nick Williams were unvailable and the home side were comfortable winners. Cormac O’Flynn in his first AIL start was a excellent replacement for Keesh against St Mary’s College, and in a record that still stands today, was the first Dolphin man to kick seven penalties in a single AIL game, in a 21-13 victory.
In the following game, Dolphin earned their 6th league victory, completing the double over Clontarf by an impressive 17-0. Dolphin’s title bid was severelly dented in the back to back fixtures against Garryowen, a side that finished two places behind them in the final places. The away game finished in controversy, injuries to Garryowen front rowers resulted in the game finishing with uncontested scrums. This was an area where Dolphin were on top, having earlier received a penalty try and they could not add to this and lost 13-12.
Away to UL Bohemians saw Dolphin’s fortunes improve again, a penalty try and tries from Danny Barnes, Sam Cronin and Rory Kenneally gave Dolphin the five points. Another five pointer, 31-13 home victory over Blackrock College thanks to another try from Sam Croin, a brace from Dave Ryan and a further try from Robbie Allen put Dolphin into 3rd place.
2009-10 saw the splitting of Division 1 into 1A & 1B so there was a change in the play off lineups, only the top three went into the play offs along with the top side in 1B, so in was 1 v 3 & 2 v leader of 1B.
The final game was away in Templehill where the home side reversed their opening day defeat and it finished 23-13. Results went Dolphin’s way and they qualified for an away semi final v Cork Constitution (rather than St Mary’s College) which would have been the norm in other years.
Cork Constitution won comfortably the following week and carried on to beat St Mary’s College in the final.
The AIL Cup was played for that season and Dolphin comfortably defeated Barnhall in the opening round in a six try 38-3 victory, Barry O’Mahony leading the way with three tries.
Dolphin travelled to Belfast for the 2nd round and returned with a 28-7 victory over Belfast Harlequins.
Galwegians were the opposition in the quarter final and tries from Niall O’Driscoll, Nick Williams & Barry O’Mahony set them up for a 24-10 victory.
Dolphin were 80 minutes from their first Cup final, they were drawn at home to Garryowen, well Garryowen were definitely Dolphin’s bogey team in 2009-10 and Garryown ran out winners by 16-9.