Naas are in pole position to gain an automatic place in next season’s AIB League after they collected their second straight win in the league’s Round Robin Qualifying series on Saturday.
WEEK TWO – RESULTS –
Monivea 19 Crosshaven 9, Castle Grounds
Naas 31 Armagh 15, Forenaughts
In what was a crunch meeting between the two winners from the opening weekend, Naas grabbed a 31-15 victory over Armagh at Forenaughts.
Andrew Melville’s side are at home to Monivea in their final game in the series next Saturday, knowing that they only need a point against the Galway club to see them replace relegated Portadown in Division Three next term.
Armagh and Crosshaven both have a win apiece after their two opening games and they still have all to play – the team that finishes second in the Round Robin series will face City of Derry in a play-off for the final place in Division Three.
Intriguingly, Armagh make the long trip to Crosshaven next Saturday with both teams gunning for a bonus point win.
At Forenaughts last Saturday, early injuries to Johnny Steenson and Ali Redpath dented Armagh’s hopes of an away win, although they did go in front thanks to a 15th-minute try from James Morton.
Naas managed to bag two converted tries, however, before the break as player-coach Meville shrugged off two tacklers to offload for centre Johnny Delaney to cross the whitewash.
Mark Byrne capitalised on an excellent maul foward from the Naas pack to touch down soon after. David Ahern converted both tries.
Armagh failed to find touch, just 30 seconds into the second half, allowing the Kildare outfit to race the ball back and work Delaney in for his second try, after good work again by Meville.
21-5 down, Armagh had some serious catching up to down. A converted try from Conor O’Neill did get them back in the game and Steenson, who recovered from his early knock, cancelled out an Ahern penalty with one of his own.
But two minutes into injury-time, Naas broke through for another try, chalking up what could prove to be a vital bonus point with replacement flanker Gary Rowan muscling over the line. Ahern’s conversion brought his personal tally to 11 points.
At the Castle Grounds, Monivea secured their first points in the Round Robin series thanks to a 19-9 success against Crosshaven.
Conor Deane kept the Cork men in the hunt with three penalties but a converted try from Connacht Junior player Phelim Cloonan and four penalties from the boot of Ian Murphy kept promotion hopes alive for Dan McFarland’s side.
WEEK ONE – RESULTS –
Crosshaven 13 Naas 24, Myrtleville Cross
Armagh 23 Monivea 13, Palace Grounds
Saturday, April 7 – WEEK THREE:
Crosshaven v Armagh, Myrtleville Cross
Naas v Monivea, Forenaughts
Saturday, April 21 – PLAY-OFF:
Play-off between second-from-bottom team in Division Three and second-placed team in Round Robin series