After an eventful opening day in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League, there is quite a geographical spread at the top of the table with clubs from all four provinces in the leading five positions.
Kanturk fell just short of a winning debut in the Ulster Bank League as the newly-promoted Cork side were beaten 27-25 by Navan in their first game of the campaign.
Thomas Geraghty’s 13th-minute try was converted by Navan player-coach Alan Kingsley, whose subsequent penalty was cancelled out by a brace of kicks from Kanturk out-half Mark Healy. That left it 10-6 at the break in Balreask Old.
Kanturk increased the intensity for the start of the second half and were rewarded with a seven-pointer from full-back Sean Cremin.
Nonetheless, converted efforts from centres Riaan van der Vyver and Esera Faafo – sandwiching a Healy score at the other end – had the Meath outfit in a winning position at 24-20.
Former Munster and Ireland prop Tony Buckley, who made his return to the All-Ireland League in Kanturk’s second row, earned a late yellow card and Kingsley duly completed his 12-point tally for the day.
But there was still time for the visitors to engineer another try as their backs teed up outside centre Matt Gandy to score. It gave Healy the chance to level matters but his 35-metre conversion drifted narrowly wide.
Sligo are the early pacesetters in the division following their 60-5 hammering of Ards at their Hamilton Park base.
Former Ireland underage international Aaron Spring ran in Sligo’s bonus point try early in the second half, with the likes of Mark Rooney, Rory Kerins and Richard Childs finishing chance after chance against the disappointing visitors.
Second-placed Greystones looked in fine fettle during their 34-10 victory at Boyne (pictured above), with Jason Curran’s second half try supplementing four earlier touchdowns – including one from new Kiwi out-half Kurt Strachan.
‘Stones will host Wanderers in a ‘Friday Night Lights’ clash this week. The headquarters club drew 30-all with Sunday’s Well on their return to the senior ranks.
The wind-backed ‘Well had early converted tries from Ross O’Mahony and Peter Arigo, along with a 13-point kicking haul from Shane O’Riordan, as they broke into a 23-0 lead just after the interval at the Aviva Stadium.
But Wanderers launched a stirring fight-back and were aided by two Sunday’s Well yellow cards. Barry Sweeney and Robert Clune finished off tries, the second coming from a terrific turnover by Harley Murray, as the home attack finally sparked into life.
Ciaran Wade added two conversions and two penalties to close the gap to 23-20. The Corkmen responded with a brilliant breakout try from Conor O’Farrell in the 70th minute which O’Riordan converted.
The finish to this hugely entertaining fixture was suitably dramatic as Niall O’Donoghue dotted down out wide and 15-point hero Wade was successful with two more kicks, the conversion and an equalising injury-time penalty from 45 metres.
Recently relegated clubs, Bruff and Highfield, shared the spoils in an 18-all draw at Kilballyowen Park, although the Limerick men will be much the happier as they trailed by 15 points at one stage.
Cathal Monaghan’s converted try salvaged a losing bonus point for Old Crescent who played second fiddle to efficient Armagh for much of their 13-7 defeat at Rosbrien.
Midleton scored 12 unanswered points, including a penalty try, to close out a tight 32-28 provincial derby win over hosts Richmond.
Brian Collins’ second try of the day was converted by Stephen Clancy (pictured below) who added a penalty soon after for a 28-20 Richmond lead, entering the closing stages.
But Jayde Cruickshank’s unconverted effort was followed up by that all-important penalty try – awarded following repeated scrum infringements near the Richmond line – and the four league points were taken home to Cork.
Meanwhile, Tullamore opened their win account at the first attempt when overcoming De La Salle Palmerston 29-22 in a cracking contest at Spollanstown.
Michael Brazil’s 34th-minute touchdown split the sides at half-time (17-10), but credit to DLSP they twice fought back to level in the second half thanks to two tries, including an Ian O’Connor score from a charge down.
The game was on a real knife edge during a 20-minute scoreless spell which was eventually ended by winger Jordan Conroy’s decisive try for Tullamore. Aaron Deverell converted from out wide for a seven-point winning margin.
ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Boyne 10 Greystones 34, Shamrock Lodge
Bruff 18 Highfield 18, Kilballyowen Park
Navan 27 Kanturk 25, Balreask Old
Old Crescent 7 Armagh 13, Rosbrien
Richmond 28 Midleton 32, Richmond Park
Sligo 60 Ards 5, Hamilton Park
Tullamore 29 De La Salle Palmerston 22, Spollanstown
Wanderers 30 Sunday’s Well 30, Aviva Stadium back pitch