St. Mary’s College edged out Old Belvedere to record their fourth straight home win in the AIB League at Templeville Road on Saturday afternoon.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, January 26
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 23 OLD BELVEDERE 22, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Mattie Duggan, Robert Gannon, Penalty try; Con: Frank Lynch; Pens: Frank Lynch 2
Old Belvedere: Tries: Felix Jones, Richie Leyden 2; Cons: Richie Murphy 2; Pen: Richie Murphy
Mary’s prevailed but Belvedere could have collected the points themselves by the finish. They ended the game on the up and faced with a 23-19 deficit, they were closing in on a match-winning try.
Awarded a late penalty in front of the posts, experienced out-half Richie Murphy erred when opting to go for the posts. He duly landed the kick but quickly realised his mistake in not kicking for touch.
The game ended moments later and Mary’s had clung on for another nail-biting win – they had four points to spare over Greystones last week and were also 10-8 winners over Shannon before Christmas.
Tries from Felix Jones and Richie Leyden (2) had Belvo, who led 14-13 at half-time, poised for their first ever league success over Mary’s. However a penalty try and a late Frank Lynch penalty saw the hosts come good.
Just as they had done against Greystones last week, Mary’s made a superb start with back rower Mattie Duggan crossing for a second-minute try after a rolling maul drive.
It was a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ when Belvedere scored a similar try, seven minutes later. The Belvo pack powered forward and former Ireland Under-20 full-back Felix Jones was credited with the touchdown after striking from close range.
Murphy converted and in the 11th-minute, his half-back partner Ruairi Cushion made a telling break which led to flanker Leyden finishing off one of Belvedere’s best tries of the season to date.
The flurry of scores continued with Lynch pushing a 16th-minute penalty through the posts and Mary’s finished off an end-to-end first quarter by putting right winger Robert Gannon over for his second try in as many games.
The hosts did have chances to add to their tally before half-time but they could not converted, allowing Belvo to take their one-point lead into the second half.
Wide man Daragh Fanning had the best of Mary’s try-scoring chances late in the first half but he slipped at a crucial moment and the Belvedere defence recovered to clear the danger.
A second try for Leyden, off a 52nd-minute pushover drive, sent Belvo into a 19-13 lead and with Murphy directing operations with some excellent touch-finders, Mary’s certainly had a game on their hands.
The tie turned back in the hosts’ favour just two minutes later when a blatant block by Philip Treacy robbed Mary’s of a certain try. Referee Olan Trevor reacted by awarding a penalty try and he also sent the Belvo winger to the sin-bin.
Lynch was wayward with his conversion attempt but he was on target with a 78th-minute penalty to send Mary’s 23-19 in front and try as they might, Belvedere could not rescue the win from the jaws of defeat.
SHANNON 16 GALWEGIANS 5, Coonagh
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Colm McMahon, Stephen Kelly; Pens: Andrew Thompson 2
Galwegians: Try: Brett Sweeney
Shannon got the better of a stubborn Galwegians side at Coonagh on Saturday afternoon to get back to winning ways in the AIB League.
Mick Galwey’s men kept hold of second place in the table with assistance from Munster trio Alan Quinlan, Tony Buckley and Donnacha Ryan, who all played 80 minutes.
Wind-backed ‘Wegians led 5-3 at half-time thanks to centre Brett Sweeney’s 38th-minute try.
But Quinlan’s quick tap set up replacement Colm McMahon for a 53rd-minute try and victory was Shannon’s when winger Stephen Kelly went over late on.
‘Quinny’ stepped in to replace his cousin David Quinlan, who is out injured, at number 8 today for Shannon. The latter’s absence also saw a change in captain with young hooker Sean Cronin selected for the leadership role.
‘Wegians had the wind in their favour in the opening half but could never build up a decent lead and so the Shannon comeback was always on the cards in the second period.
Some early Shannon pressure almost resulted in a try, indeed speedy winger Kelly looked set to cross the whitewash but he fumbled when stooping down to pick up his kick ahead and the chance was gone.
The game was 28 minutes’ old when Andrew Thompson kicked a penalty to open the hosts’ account. Ten minutes later, ‘Wegians were celebrating a breakaway try.
Tim Fletcher did most of the damage as turnover ball allowed him to make 30 metres before he was stopped short of the Shannon line. The ball was quickly recycled for his centre partner Sweeney to squeeze over in the right corner.
The conversion was missed though and Shannon ended the half on the up and deep into ‘Wegians’ territory. They regained the lead when McMahon, who was only on the field a matter of seconds, darted over the line for a try from close range after a quick Quinlan-initiated attack.
Thompson missed the conversion but added a penalty in the 56th-minute and after ‘Wegians had lost Martin Webdale to the sin-bin and Shannon scrum half Fiach O’Loughlin hobbled off injured, the hosts conjured up a second and final try.
It was a Kelly’s fifth try of the league campaign and the move began with Ireland Six Nations squad member Buckley making a sizable break. Thompson then sent out a long pass to David O’Donovan who provided the assist for Kelly to make the left corner.
DOLPHIN 19 BALLYMENA 12, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Try: Rory McGrath; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 3; Drop: Tomas O’Leary
Ballymena: Tries: Neil McMillan, John Nicholl; Con: Craig Woods
Dolphin rose to fifth in the Division One table by seeing off Ballymena at Musgrave Park on Saturday afternoon. This was the Cork club’s first ever AIB League triumph over Ballymena – at the sixth time of asking.
The Braidmen missed some early kicks, allowing Dolphin to shoot into a 10-0 interval lead. Flanker Rory McGrath sprinted clear for a 20th-minute try and out-half Barry Keeshan kicked five points.
Keeshan tagged on three further penalties, but tries from flanker Neil McMillan and full-back John Nicholl gave Ballymena a losing bonus point.
There was a lot of good rugby in a scoreless opening quarter at the Cork venue but Dolphin, winners over Terenure College last week, began to click before half-time.
Ballymena missed two penalties in the opening four minutes through Craig Woods and just when it looked like the visitors might strike for the opening try after gaining an intercept, Dolphin immediately countered.
They won the ball back through another intercept and McGrath had the pace to make the whitewash from just outside his own 22-metre line.
Keeshan converted before Munster scrum half Tomas O’Leary, who is getting back to fitness after a bout of pneumonia, dropped a neat goal when a penalty was forthcoming to Dolphin.
Jacques Benade’s charges increased their efforts on the restart and after some 20-plus phases, Ballymena worked Ulster’s Neil McMillan over for a fine score which Woods converted.
Five minutes later, Keeshan crept Dolphin’s advantage back up to six points at 13-7 and with the home side using the wind better in the second half, their number 10 added two more penalties to take his haul for the season to 107 points.
A simple case of numbers out wide allowed Ballymena to score again in injury-time through Nicholl, but Dolphin’s impressive home record in this season’s league remains – this was their sixth straight home success since October.