Ulster Senior League leaders Dungannon slipped up on the opening day of the AIB League as four-try St. Mary’s College sizzled in the second half at a wet Stevenson Park.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, October 4
DUNGANNON 10 ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 27, Stevenson Park
Scorers: Dungannon: Try: Derek Hall; Con: David Parkhill; Pen: David Parkhill
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Gareth Logan, Penalty try, Conor McPhillips, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: Shaun McCarthy 2; Pen: Shaun McCarthy
Having trailed by 10-3 at half-time, St. Mary’s turned things around as touchdowns from Gareth Logan, Conor McPhillips and Matt D’Arcy sandwiched a penalty try.
On a rain-soaked pitch, Dungannon snapped up an early try through flanker Derek Hall and place-kicker David Parkhill supplied five points.
However, a sin-binning for captain Michael Rainey hit ‘Gannon’s hopes and Mary’s soon turned the screw.
Dungannon came into this fixture brimming with confidence, thanks to their run of five straight wins in the Ulster Senior League.
They started without regular place-kicker Richard McCarter, who is nursing a hamstring injury, but still fielded a talented team which included Ulster’s Thomas Anderson.
John Andrews’ men got off to a very positive start and they were only for a try after only three minutes when Hall barged his way over from close range.
Parkhill converted and swapped penalties with Mary’s new Australian out-half Shaun McCarthy, who is doubling as their backs coach.
With the wind to their advantage, Dungannon had played most of the rugby in the opening 40 minutes and Anderson was in typically lively form.
He joined Rainey in winning a number of lineouts, although Logan and Conor McInerney did press them on their own ball.
Logan was yellow carded in the first half but when Mary’s were restored to 15, they soon clicked into gear.
Logan wrestled his way over for the first try, which went unconverted and left ‘Gannon just 10-8 ahead.
Mary’s forwards began to dictate matters and recent signings Ruaidhri Murphy and Ross Condron both impressed.
With Rainey off the pitch, the Dubliners grabbed a quick brace of tries to motor ahead on their way to their first win in their last four visits to Stevenson Park.
Peter Smyth’s charges had a bit of good fortune for their bonus point try as the ball seemed to be knocked on in the lead-up to D’Arcy’s effort.
However, the scrum half was allowed to continue and he kicked ahead before gleefully winning the race to the ball.