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AIB League: Division 1 Round Up (2)

AIB League: Division 1 Round Up (2)

Shannon tough it out with Ballymena, Garryowen secure confident win over Greystones, ‘Rock grab the points at Galwegians and St. Mary’s add to Lansdowne misery.

Shannon 28-21 Ballymena

Shannon battled hard for this bonus point win over Ballymena at Coonagh. Mick Galwey’s side suffered two early injuries – out-half Tadhg Bennett dislocated his shoulder and flanker David Quinlan dislocated his finger – but they had a match winner in Andrew Thompson.

Quinlan, Thompson, who scored 18 points in all, and Fiach O’Loughlin all touched down as Shannon turned around with a 20-7 buffer.

The Braidmen did well to secure a losing bonus point with prop Simon Shawe and replacement Michael Hershaw crossing the whitewash late on.

Greystones 5-38 Garryowen

Garryowen moved up one place in the Division One standings to third with a confident victory over Greystones at Dr Hickey Park.

The defending champions notched five tries as struggling ‘Stones were outclassed and not helped by the sending-off of prop Jamie Hagan for violent conduct.

Garryowen were 18-0 ahead by the interval with Mark Melbourne, Lorcan Bourke and Keith Earls sharing out the tries.

An individual effort from out-half James Power got ‘Stones off the mark but further touchdowns from Barry O’Mahony and Cillian O’Boyle helped the Limerick men ease home.

Greystones, 23-22 winners over Blackrock College last time out, started brightly enough but their lineout was poor throughout resulting in two of the visitors’ tries.

Garryowen centre Keith Earls and full-back Conor Kilroy, who kicked 13 points, were constant thorns in the home side and with some good incisive scrum-half play, the Munster-contracted Gerry Hurley delived well to his outside backs.

Stones’ backs tried valiantly while their scrum was steady but in the end it was the all-round open and expansive play from the visitors that saw them race ahead.

A penalty on the quarter-hour mark from Kilroy nudged Garryowen in front in what was a slow-burning match. Once the visitors hit third gear however, the tries came.

A lineout steal set up position for Melbourne to touch down and winger Bourke followed suit after some slick backline play.

Centre Earls, a member of last year’s successful Ireland Under-20 side, sliced through the home defence for the third try and Garryowen were really motoring.

Yellow cards to the home side’s Daniel Kenny and John O’Beirne did little for their chances of mounting a comeback, while Garryowen also had to play without experienced back rower Paul Neville for ten minutes.

By the hour mark, Power had sniped over for ‘Stones’ only score of the entire game, closing the gap to 26-5. Incidentally, Power’s father Pierce, the club’s current President, was the head coach when ‘Stones lost 27-6 away to Garryowen in March 1994.

Continuing their run of being the only Division One club unbeaten on the road since October, Garryowen secured the bonus point with O’Mahony and O’Boyle grabbing the visitors’ final tries to banish memories of their AIB Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Clontarf.

Greystones: Try: James Power
Garryowen: Tries: Mark Melbourne, Kieran Lewis, Keith Earls, Willie Staunton, Cillian O’Boyle; Cons: Conor Kilroy 1, Gerry Hurley 1;
Pens: Conor Kilroy 3

Galwegians 14-17 Blackrock College

Blackrock College produced a smash and grab win at Crowley Park as they moved up to sixth place in the Division One table.

The play-off hopefuls came from 14-7 down at the break with full-back Fionn Carr kicking a 60th-minute penalty and converting his own try, four minutes from the finish.

‘Wegians were 9-0 up inside 22 minutes thanks to three penalty goals from Connacht’s Liam Bibo. The sides swapped tries late in the half with ‘Rock out-half Kyle Tonetti touching down against the run of play and the hosts’ captain Louis Tonkin scoring off a well-worked move.

Connacht squad member Liam Bibo showed a clinical edge in the opening quarter as he kicked the hosts into a well-deserved lead. It had been all Galwegians up to that point with ‘Rock not being allowed to show much of their attacking prowess.

But, Tonetti’s try, which came after a good spell of pressure from the ‘Wegians’ pack, opened up the game. The home side, gunning for their first win in five league games, tried to shut the door with lock Tonkin making the line after a series of powerful rucks deep in the ‘Rock half.

Paul Young’s men should have been further in front by half-time but they failed to turn pressure and decent territory into points, leaving them just a converted try in front.

Ill-discipline crept into their game and Carr, ‘Rock’s top scorer coming into the game with 94 points, booted a central penalty on the hour mark to reduce the arrears to 14-10.

‘Rock sensed their chance and they kicked for the corner in the 76th-minute. Some good handling between the backs led to Carr breaking through from the 22 and crossing under the posts for a try which he gleefully converted.

‘Wegians had a couple of late chances, the best of which saw Connacht’s Peter Durcan hang up a cross-field kick for Alipate Tuilevuka but referee John Lacey brought play back for the winger being ahead of the kicker and the Dubliners hung on for their seventh win in ten league trips to the west.

Galwegians: Try: Louis Tonkin; Pens: Liam Bibo 3
Blackrock College: Tries: Kyle Tonetti, Fionn Carr; Cons: Fionn Carr 2; Pen: Fionn Carr

St Mary’s College 13-9 Lansdowne

Former Ireland U-20 lock Conor McInerney scored the game’s only try as St Mary’s College outfought their Dublin rivals at Templeville Road.

After a bout of forward pressure on the half-hour mark, McInerney barged over to help Mary’s establish a 13-6 half-time lead.

Jonathan Sexton’s younger brother Mark converted that try and also kicked two first half penalties.

Young centre Lorcan Kavanagh kicked Lansdowne’s points in the opening half, but his third penalty of the afternoon was only enough to secure a losing bonus point for the visitors.