Wanderers remain in the box seat after the second round of the Ulster Bank League qualifiers. The Dubliners defeated Kanturk down in Cork to take a step closer to regaining senior status, while Clogher Valley opened their win account in the other Round Robin game.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE QUALIFIERS: Saturday, April 5
SECOND ROUND RESULTS –
CLOGHER VALLEY 27 OLBC 11, the Cran
KANTURK 29 WANDERERS 30, Knocknacolan
In a thrilling encounter at Knocknacolan on Saturday, Leinster champions Wanderers edged out Kanturk to make it two wins out of two in the All-Ireland Provincial League Championship.
However, the two bonus points Kanturk picked up gives them a boost ahead of their final game at home to Clogher Valley next Saturday which will see the winners away to Instonians in the play-off, assuming Wanderers win their final Round Robin fixture at home to OLBC.
The first score of this pulsating clash in Cork came in the 27th minute when Kanturk captain Johnny O’Sullivan was yellow carded for persistent fouling by his side and Ciaran Wade kicked the resulting penalty to put Wanderers ahead.
Despite being down a man down, Kanturk struck for a try five minutes later when full-back Peter Earlie was the extra man in a sweeping back-line move and Mark Healy converted the try.
Six minutes before the break, Wanderers centre Cailbhe Doherty found a gap to score and Wade converted.
Just moments before half-time Healy levelled with a penalty, but from the restart Wade restored Wanderers advantage with an injury-time place-kick to leave the visitors 13-10 ahead at the break.
Three minutes into the second half the Dublin side scored their second try when hooker Adam Duhig touched down and Wade again converted.
But Kanturk brilliantly hit back with two tries in a five-minute spell to lead 24-20 in the 50th minute. Skipper O’Sullivan chipped ahead and won the race to touch down.
Shortly afterwards, quick ball out the wing saw Kealan Buckley cross the whitewash and Healy converted both efforts.
Back came Wanderers and full-back Nick McNamara was next over the try-line in the 62nd minute and Wade again converted.
In an action-packed finale, eight minutes from time Wade kicked a crucial penalty to make it 30-24 to the visitors.
Kanturk number 10 Healy slipped through two tackles to score a try in the right corner with two minutes remaining, but unfortunately for the home side he missed the difficult conversion attempt from wide out.
Wanderers held out until the final whistle to claim a vital second victory that keeps them on course to feature in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League next season.
Meanwhile, Clogher Valley are still very much alive in the race for league qualification after winning a real battle with OLBC at the Cran on Saturday afternoon.
The Ulster champions fought back from 11-3 down after Ciaran Coyle’s try put OLBC in a commanding position ten minutes into the second half.
The Connacht side have refused to live up to their pre-competition mantle of outsiders so far and once again put in a stellar performance for most of this game.
However, OLBC and their player-coach Ambrose Conboy will be desperately disappointed with their performance in the final 20 minutes as the hosts scored three tries without reply to turn this tie on its head and give Clogher Valley a 27-11 win and their first points of the qualifiers.
For Valley, the injury crisis continues with five players out beforehand and two props injured during the match forcing them into uncontested scrums for the second week in succession – that is a huge concern ahead of their must win trip to Kanturk next weekend.
The Tyrone club were 6-3 down at half-time and the early second half try was another body blow but their reaction was superb. Paul Armstrong’s penalty got them back within a score.
Then came the turning point, OLBC were turned over in attack, Clogher kicked deep and Alistair Trenier and Eugene McKenna led the chase as OLBC looked to clear, McKenna charged down the kick and scored. Armstrong converted and the Galway outfit were on the back foot.
Armstrong got the hosts’ second try in the final quarter as they began to dominate with Trenier adding a third in the closing stages.
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