County Carlow will have to wait until after Christmas to record their first win of the AIB League Division One season as Saturday saw UL Bohs pip the midlanders 12-8.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, December 10
COUNTY CARLOW 8 UL BOHEMIANS 12, Oak Park
Scorers: Carlow: Try: Ross Barbour; Pen: Greg Jacob
UL Bohs: Tries: Ben Martin, Ian Costello; Con: Fergal Lawlor
Bohemians, last season's Division Two champions, put a bit of breathing space between themselves on 13th-placed Galwegians. The Limerick side pulled seven points clear of 'Wegians thanks to their second win of the campaign.
Carlow were looking good for their first win in six games when they pushed 8-0 ahead thanks to a try from full-back Ross Barbour and a penalty from top-scoring centre Greg Jacob, but a try for Bohs centre Ben Martin kept the visitors right in it at 8-5 down at the interval.
The Sydney-born Martin, who amassed 192 points for Bohs last season and played in a warm-up game for Munster against Northampton in August, missed the difficult conversion into the wind and that proved to be one of his last acts as player-coach Ian Costello replaced Martin himself for the second half.
Costello, the man behind Bohs' more expansive gameplan this season, went on to rescue what was turning out to be a dour second half with the match-winning try on 75 minutes. Fly-half Fergal Lawlor placed a little beauty of a chip kick through and Costello hared up to grab the touch down. Lawlor converted and it was job done.
For second-from-bottom Carlow, it's back to the drawing board after their lineout capitulated five times in the second half. Turnovers really spoiled what was a decent display in the first half from David Hodge's side.
SHANNON 35 BALLYMENA 12, Thomond Park
Scorers: Shann: Tries: David O'Donovan, Ian Dowling, Sean Cronin, David Delaney, Padraic O'Brien; Cons: Delaney 5
Ballymena: Tries: Paddy Wallace, Dirkie Strydom: Con: Strydom
There seems to be no stopping Shannon's march towards an eighth AIB League Division One title if Saturdayday's 35-12 beating of Ballymena is anything to go by.
Strength in depth is the champions' mantra for the season, especially as the weekend as injuries and Munster's requirements in Wales saw their squad a little on the light side. Shannon boss Mick Galwey shrugged this off to continue to showcase an array of young talent. In their first senior campaigns, hooker Sean Cronin and locks Donnacha Ryan and Padraic O'Brien were again to the fore in a win which leaves Galwey's charges a single point clear of their Limerick rivals Garryowen at the top of the table.
Shannon chalked up their sixth straight league win with considerable ease. Tries from full-back David O'Donovan (19 minutes) and the 19-year-old Cronin (40 minutes) handed Shannon a 14-0 half-time lead - against the wind.
Winger Ian Dowling, fly-half David Delaney, who converted all five of Shannon's tries, and O'Brien, played in by an instinctive backflip pass from prop Les Hogan on the hour, added further touch downs in the second half.
A jinking run saw Ulster fly-half Paddy Wallace in for a consolation score and Zimbabwean full-back Dirkie Strydom also breached the home cover for a try, but Ballymena were well and truly outclassed.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE 21 BUCCANEERS 16, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock: Tries: Alan Henry, Peter Byrne; Con: Paddy O'Toole; Pens: O'Toole 3
Buccaneers: Try: Tom Cregan; Con: Cregan: Pens: Cregan 3
Former Buccaneers Under-21 Peter Byrne returned to haunt his former club as his late try sent Blackrock College on the way to a 21-16 win at Stradbrook.
Despite having the lion's share of possession in the second half, Buccaneers failed to score in the second 40 and were left kicking themselves when scrum half Byrne went in for a 56th-minute try.
A scoring blitz saw the sides swap 20 points in the opening eight minutes. 'Rock fly-half Paddy O'Toole exchanged a single penalty with Buccs full-back Tom Cregan before home full-back Alan Henry, signed by 'Rock from UCD in the summer, powered over for 'Rock's first try on 6 minutes.
Buccs' top scorer Cregan - he boasted 63 points before the kick-off - snapped it back to 10-10 by converting his own try two minutes later, but two further penalties from O'Toole saw 'Rock end the half 16-13 in front.
Cregan's third penalty, five minutes into the second half, squared it up again at 16-16 but with Buccs failing to turn possession into points, Byrne's try rocked the Pirates and sent Dave Dillon's victors up to seventh in the standings.