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AIB League: Division 1 Round Up

AIB League: Division 1 Round Up

Dungannon shock Shannon, ‘Tarf win Dublin derby, ‘Rock continue winning ways and Dolphin grab bonus.

Dungannon 25-18 Shannon

Dungannon turned the AIB League Division One table on its head as they shocked leaders Shannon at Stevenson Park.

Ex-Ireland international Jonny Bell bagged two second half tries to inspire Dungannon to their first ever league win over Shannon in 14 meetings.

Tries from backs Andrew Finn and Richard Mullane had Shannon leading 12-11 at half-time.

But scores, either side of the break, from flanker Derek Hall and Bell helped ‘Gannon go in front and Hall took an up-and-under to set up Bell’s clincher in the 58th minute.

Having rattled up an aggregate points tally of 110 in their last three league games against Dungannon, Shannon travelled north with a good deal of confidence, particularly with John Andrews’ side bottom of the table before kick-off.

Shannon did have the better of the opening 20 minutes although a try from right winger Finn was all they had to show for their efforts.

Two penalties from Richard McCarter then put ‘Gannon the ascendancy, but their lead was short-lived.

Shannon kicked a penalty to touch, won the lineout and recycled the ball for young centre Mullane, who was making his first league start for the club, to barge his way through from midfield.

Andrew Thompson converted for 12-6 and after the kick, match referee Alan Rogan brought play back to sin-bin Dungannon flanker Thomas Anderson for pulling down the lineout.

The hosts were really up against it, but a fantastic 25-yard break from openside flanker Andy Hughes paved the way for his blindside colleague Hall to score just before half-time.

Trailing by a point, ‘Gannon scored a real sucker-punch try when Bell, a coach at the club who was brought in to ease an injury crisis, used all his experience to read a pass in midfield, intercept it and fly in under the posts.

John McGuckin made it a seven-pointer and he was also on target, coming up to the hour mark, after a high kick caused problems in the Shannon defence and Hall gobbled up the loose ball to put the supporting Bell over.

Suddenly 25-12 in arrears, Shannon were in real trouble, which they never got out of.

They did close the gap and nab a losing bonus point thanks to two Thompson penalties, however ‘Gannon were good enough to hold on for a much-needed home win.

Scorers: Dungannon: Tries: Jonny Bell 2, Derek Hall; Cons: John McGuckin 2; Pens: Richard McCarter 2
Shannon: Tries: Andrew Finn, Richard Mullane; Con: Andrew Thompson; Pens: Andrew Thompson 2

Old Belvedere 14-16 Clontarf

Old Belvedere were denied what would have been a deserved win over play-off chasers Clontarf at Anglesea Road.

A try in the ninth-minute of injury-time from winger Derek Keane, which went unconverted, saw ‘Tarf take the verdict by 16-14.

Two penalty strikes from Richie Murphy saw Belvedere nip into a 6-5 half-time lead, after Clontarf hooker Niall Carson had scored the game’s opening try.

By the hour mark, the hosts led 14-11 thanks to another Murphy kick and a Dave Shanley try, but ‘Tarf had the better finish.

Old Belvedere:
Try: Dave Shanley; Pens: Richie Murphy 3
Clontarf: Tries: Niall Carson, Derek Keane; Pen: Ian Keatley; Drop: Peter O’Brien.

Ballymena 12-17 Blackrock

First half tries from Fionn Carr and Niall Morris helped Blackrock College score a notable win over Ballymena at Eaton Park.

It was only ‘Rock’s second win in six league visits to the home of the Braidmen.

The Dubliners had built up a 17-6 lead by half-time with full-back Carr helping himself to his fifth try of the league campaign.

Former Ireland U-19 international Morris scored for the second week running.

Ballymena’s points came from three Craig Woods penalties and a Donovan Raw drop goal.

Jacques Benade’s home side were simply not good enough and were made to pay for a sleepy start as they fell to their third successive league loss.

Missing some key players through injury and without their Ulster-contracted men, they fell 17-3 behind and struggled to make their mark on the game, despite an improved final quarter.

Having reduced the arrears to 17-12, they had ‘Rock under pressure and pinned back in their own 22 for the closing ten minutes, but their efforts were in vain as the visitors held on to move up to fifth in the Division One standings.

‘Rock’s slick back-line play has been a feature for them this season and they had some quality players to finish off their moves, not least Carr, whose supporting running helped him get amongst the tries.

Morris is also emerging as a wide man with a good strike rate and the youngster followed up on his try last week at home to Dolphin.

Carr converted both tries, adding to an earlier penalty, to move his points tally for the season to 92 and leave Ballymena in their wake.

A second penalty from scrum half Woods cut the gap to 11 points but Division One’s top Ulster club were staring at their fifth defeat in their last six league clashes with Blackrock.

Despite that improvement in the second half, which was initiated by a third Woods penalty and a fine drop goal from Raw, Ballymena just could not break down a stubborn ‘Rock defence.

Scorers: Ballymena: Pens: Craig Woods 3; Drop: Donovan Raw
Blackrock College: Tries: Fionn Carr, Niall Morris; Cons: Fionn Carr 2; Pen: Fionn Carr

Dolphin 30-6 Terenure College

Munster back rower James Coughlan notched a hat-trick of tries as Dolphin came from behind to comprehensively beat Terenure College at Musgrave Park.

‘Nure led 6-0 at the break, thanks to a penalty and a fine drop goal from David McAllister.

But McAllister had missed three earlier place-kicks and after Barry Keeshan drew the sides level with two penalties, Dolphin took over.

The Corkmen gleefully nabbed the bonus point thanks to Coughlan’s efforts and winger Rory Kenneally also rounded off a fine team try.

Terenure never really used the wind to their full advantage during a disappointing first half which failed to spark.

The visitors’ pack foraged well and had the better of the ball, which McAllister kicked with aplomb, but his place-kicking let the former Leinster out-half down.

Had the Dubliners turned around with a 15-0 interval lead, a totally different second half may have been in store but Dolphin, to their credit, seized control.

The weather conditions dictated what sort of game this would be and with the Dolphin defence holding out in the first 40 minutes, ‘Nure’s try-scoring chances were severely limited – especially while their tighthead prop and captain Stephen was in the sin-bin.

After a scoreless opening quarter, McAllister made up somewhat for his earlier misses by planting a 30-metre penalty through the uprights and he also landed a peach of a drop goal from all of halfway.

But Dolphin succeeded in turning things around. It took them just eight second-half minutes to get level as Keeshan landed a brace of penalties after 43 and 48 minutes.

Recovering from their 25-9 defeat at Blackrock last week, Dolphin pulled clear thanks to a fantastic final quarter.

Coughlan got on the end of a forward drive for his first try and the score of the game soon followed when, given the slippery ball, the home backs did well to put together a move which ended with Kenneally crossing in the corner.

Two more touchdowns followed for an on-fire Coughlan, with Keeshan adding two conversions, to give the final score-line a flattering look, but David O’Mahony’s side did enough to warrant the win, which sees them move back up to seventh in the standings.

Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: James Coughlan 3, Rory Kenneally; Cons: Barry Keeshan 2; Pens: Barry Keeshan 2
Terenure College: Pen: David McAllister; Drop: David McAllister.