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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Galwegians have young replacement Ciaran Gaffney to thank for their dramatic late 13-10 win over UL Bohemians in Ulster Bank League Division 1B.



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Following two bonus point victories in the previous rounds, table toppers Galwegians needed an 82nd minute drop goal from Ciaran Gaffney to extend their winning start to the season this afternoon.

UL Bohemians had looked the more likely winners in the closing stages, dominating possession and forcing a series of penalties but their out-half Shane Airey missed a 67th minute effort from the kicking tee.

The respective place-kickers, Dave Clarke and Airey, had swapped penalties in the 50th and 57th minutes, with Bohs’ veteran full-back Mossy Lawler sin-binned for a late tackle and Galwegians hooker Jack Dinneen following him off the pitch some minutes later.

Matt Brown’s hosts started like a train and shot ahead thanks to a second minute try from winger Matt Dever, with full-back John Cleary doing well in the build-up.

But Bohs, who were third before kick-off thanks to two opening wins, hit back with a try from captain Ed Kelly via a tenth minute maul.

It remained 7-all up to half-time and after both sides added penalties through Clarke and Airey, Ireland Under-20 international Gaffney bravely took on the mantle of match winner.

Second-placed Ballymena continued on the right road with a 24-12 success at home to struggling Dublin University.

The Eaton Park side made it three wins out of three with their new full-back Sean Taylor – the former Preston Grasshoppers and England Counties player – running in a brace of tries against the students.

Scrum half David Shanahan and winger Tim Small, both try scorers in recent weeks, also touched down for the impressive Braidmen.

Trinity crossed the whitewash twice in the second half, including a first Ulster Bank League score for USA international winger Tim Maupin.

Corinthians started and finished with tries from props Jamie Dever and Finlay Bealham, but their efforts were only enough for a losing bonus point as Garryowen prevailed on a 23-18 scoreline at Dooradoyle.

The Light Blues matched the visitors’ try count with scores from tighthead JP Cooney and centre James McInerney, while out-half Jamie Gavin had a key contribution with the boot – he accumulated 13 points, including three penalties, over the course of the game.

Malone full-back Rory Campbell’s hat-trick of tries was not enough in a hard-fought local derby as Belfast Harlequins came away from Gibson Park with a 20-19 victory.

When the dust settles on this one Malone will feel this was a game they had complete control of and should have won, while Adam Larkin’s ‘Quins will be pleased with their character and determination to fight back and take the four points.

It was a lively start with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball, and Harlequins hit the front when number 8 Sean Reidy was driven over for a converted try from a close-in lineout.

Malone’s flame-haired flanker Conor Joyce was sin-binned for a late 10th minute tackle and their goal-kicking centre Josh Pentland uncharacteristically missed a couple of penalty attempts.

However, in the 22nd minute, ‘Quins early lead was erased when John Creighton switched play to the right where Campbell (pictured below) came into the line at pace and managed to squeeze over at the corner flag. Pentland converted but missed a central penalty late in the half as the sides went in level at the break (7-7).

The Cregagh Red Sox nudged ahead in the 51st minute as Campbell sliced through the Harlequins defence to sprint in from halfway and dive under the posts for his second seven-pointer.

Some of that damage was repaired for ‘Quins by two Eamon Lane penalties, making it 14-13 until good work by Alan O’Connor and scrum half Creighton set Campbell free for his hat-trick score.

The try scorer missed the conversion and determined ‘Quins produced the stronger finish. Joyce earned a second yellow card for coming in at the side of a maul, leaving Malone under intense pressure.

The visitors kicked for the corner again and from the lineout, Reidy managed to crash over to complete his brace. Lane’s crucial conversion made it 20-19 and with Pentland pushing a late penalty wide, ‘Quins were back to winning ways.

When Tadhg Bennett stepped up to take a last-minute penalty it seemed as if Shannon would grab a losing bonus point against the odds after being 27-5 in arrears to Buccaneers after 52 minutes.

Bennett, who has won so many games for Shannon, failed on this occasion but there could be little doubt that the best team won at Coonagh as Buccs took a 27-17 verdict.

Shannon also went close – twice – to getting what would have been a try-scoring bonus point but their day was summed up early on when young winger Greg O’Shea had a foot in touch when attempting to score his second try.

Buccaneers went in front thanks to a third minute penalty by Alan Gaughan when Shannon were pinged for offside and after Bennett missed his first attempt on goal, Gaughan again found the range.

O’Shea’s 11th-minute try had Shannon back in the game but they were stunned when Gaughan, a former Garryowen player, got in for a try which he also converted.

The Pirates seemed to hit their stride approaching half-time as winger Rory O’Connor crossed for a Gaughan-converted try and the Limerick club were 20-5 adrift.

Matters got worse for Shannon four minutes into the second half when prop Jacob Walshe was fed by winger Eoghan O’Reilly for his side’s third touchdown and Gaughan again converted.

Having looked dead and buried, Shannon rallied with a 57th minute try by captain John Shine and replacement Liam Cronin claimed another with 13 minutes remaining, but try as they might Ian Sherwin’s youthful outfit could not muster another score.