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‘Extra’ Special Win For Greystones

‘Extra’ Special Win For Greystones

Greystones will go up to Division One as play-off champions after they battled to a 37-21 win over Old Belvedere in the Division Two final at Templeville Road. ‘Stones scored three tries in extra-time, after the sides had finished level at 16-16 after 80 minutes, to claim their third play-off title since 2004.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION TWO FINAL: Saturday, April 28

OLD BELVEDERE 21 GREYSTONES 37, Templeville Road (after extra-time)

Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Steve Rockett, Rory Keane; Con: Andy Dunne; Pens: Andy Dunne 3
Greystones: Tries: Rob Connolly, Stephen Cranley, Darren McKenna 2; Cons: James Power 4; Pens: James Power 3

 AIB League: Division Two Final – Photo Gallery

Rob Connolly turned in a man-of-the-match performance at Templeville Road to inspire Greystones to their first Division Two title.

In the battle of the two promoted sides, ‘Stones emerged victorious despite having to endure two periods of extra-time. Belvedere’s Andy Dunne landed a penalty to make it 16-16 after 80 minutes’ play.

Steve Rockett’s early try helped ‘Belvo to a 13-6 interval lead, but flanker Connolly scored after half-time and three tries for the Wicklow men in extra-time – they bagged two excellent scores from ‘super sub’ Darren McKenna and another from scrum half Stephen Cranley – saw them come out on top.

The victory was only ‘Stones’ second win in eight league meetings with Belvedere, but richly deserved. Colin McEntee’s young side had the legs on their opponents in extra-time and made it pay as they ran in three telling tries.

However, ‘Belvo, seeking their 100th win in AIB League history, started the better as back rower Rockett, set up by Dunne and Barry Kinsella, muscled over for a tenth-minute try, which Dunne, who started at full-back, converted.

Two penalties from the boot of James Power, the son of former ‘Stones legend Pierce, cut the gap to 7-6, however Dunne sent over a brace of penalties in reply, shortly before the break, to nudge Mike O’Donovan’s charges into a 13-6 lead.

Greystones, who twice missed out on tries when prolific winger Ronan Carroll was shunted into touch, lost Connolly to a yellow card, late in the opening half, but restored to their full compliment, they took the lead for the first time when Connolly, who gobbled up an excellent pass from full-back David McKechnie, crossed for his seventh try of the league season.

Power, who had opened the second half with a crisply hit penalty, added the conversion for a 16-13 score line. ‘Belvo, whose pack had their dominant spells, threw former ‘Stones stalwart Richie Murphy, who assists O’Donovan with the coaching, into the fray for the final ten minutes.

Dunne obliged with a 67th-minute penalty to send an intriguing tie into extra-time.

Prop Rory Keane was bundled over for what looked a decisive try for the Dubliners, early on in the first period of extra-time, but Murphy kicked a relatively easy conversion wide of the posts and Greystones seemingly drew strength from that miss.

They managed to quickly regain the lead – at 23-21 – when Connolly bulldozed forward to help McKenna over for his first converted try and two more seven-pointers followed as Belvedere’s game disintegrated.

The table-toppers’ lineout fell apart and turnover ball off a set piece allowed scrum half Cranley get over for his try. McKenna, who replaced McKechnie at full-back, tagged on his second as Belvedere heads started to drop and ‘Stones brilliantly avenged their two defeats to O’Donovan’s side earlier this season, in the Leinster Senior Cup and AIB League proper.

The win secured ‘Stones their third play-off title in the past four seasons – they were Division Three play-off winners in both 2004 and 2005.

GREYSTONES: D McKechnie; R Carroll, C McNaughton, A Higgs, S Malone; J Power, S Cranley; B Clancy, A O’Sullivan, J Hagan, C Power, N Megannety (capt), S Abbott, R Connolly, G Herrera.

Replacements used: J O’Beirne for Abbott (half-time), B Holmes for C Power (52 mins), D McGettigan for Herrera (68), D McKenna for McKechnie (73), G Cleary for Hagan (90).

OLD BELVEDERE: A Dunne; P Treacy, B Kinsella, D Sharkey, K Barden; R Monaghan, R Gleeson; B Kos, D Gavin, M Wilczuk, S Hutton (capt), E Jackman, R Leyden, D Shanley, S Rockett.

Replacements used: T Jago for Shanley (56 mins), R Keane for Kos (60), R Murphy for Monaghan (68), C Kennedy for Barden (72), M McGloughlin for Leyden (80).

Sin Bin: Connolly (Greystones) (35 mins)

Referee: Simon McDowell (Ulster)