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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

A bonus point victory was the ideal way for Kanturk to crown their first ever home match in the Ulster Bank League, while Tullamore’s impressive win away to Sunday’s Well sees them top the table after two rounds of action in Division 2B.

The enthusiastic home support at Knocknacolan watched Kanturk run out comfortable 35-10 winners over Boyne, with winger Kealan Buckley scoring two of their four tries.

Solid out-half Mark Healy settled the Cork club’s early nerves with a ninth minute penalty and they had their first try by the quarter hour mark, a quick tap penalty and brisk attack leading to Buckley’s first converted score.

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Tyler Lansdowne’s 18th-minute penalty got Boyne on the scoreboard, but with the Kanturk scrum on top they surged 18-3 clear by half-time courtesy of a further Healy penalty and captain Johnny O’Sullivan’s try out wide which came from good work by fellow back rower Dan McCabe.

Boyne’s defensive workload took its toll with a number of missed tackles in the second half. The Kanturk backs and forwards ran hard at the visitors and won a number of breakdown decisions.

A 50th minute penalty from Healy kept the scoreboard ticking over and he also added the extras to Buckley’s second of the day from in front of the posts.

Centre Eoin Duffy intercepted a pass in midfield to run in a 62nd minute try for the youthful Boyne outfit which Lansdowne converted, but Kanturk fittingly had the final say when they notched their bonus point with five minutes left.

The forwards made the hard yards, driving over the line with hooker Mike Cronin crossing in the corner. Healy completed his excellent 15-point haul with the final conversion.

Tullamore are riding high in first place thanks to their second bonus point win on the trot. Tries from Aaron Deverell (45 minutes) and Dylan Kelso (57) steered them to a 27-13 success over Sunday’s Well at Musgrave Park.

Out-half Deverell also kicked two conversions and a penalty, with wingers Conor Molloy and Jordan Conroy both dotting down in the opening half.

Hampered by injuries before kick-off, the Well trailed 15-6 at the interval and scored their only try of the game when replacement Willie McCarthy touched down from a lineout maul.

Greystones (second), Midleton (third) and Armagh (fourth) also chalked up their second successive victories over the weekend. ‘Stones were particularly impressive in seeing off Wanderers 33-14 under the Dr. Hickey Park floodlights on Friday.

The Wicklow club’s back-line were too hot to handle at times, and a typically free-flowing move resulted in centre Padraig Geoghegan claiming the first try in the 38th minute.

His centre partner Brian Kingston followed him over the line seven minutes into the second half, but a quick turnover saw Wanderers scrum half Mick McLoughlin touch down at the other end to spark a revival from the Dubliners.

They followed up with a second try while Greystones captain Bobby Clancy was in the sin-bin – closing the gap to 23-14 – only for the home side to finish strongly courtesy of a brilliantly struck penalty from out-half Kurt Strachan and a 79th minute penalty try.

De La Salle Palmerston are up to seventh in the standings following their 43-7 hammering of Richmond at Kirwan Park.

Right winger Ian O’Connor scored in the corner and flanker Phil McCarthy added a second unconverted try to have ‘Salmo leading 10-7 after a tight first half. The Kilternan-based side went on to dominate the closing 40 minutes during which they scored 33 points without reply.

Tries from captain Karl Miller and replacement Kevin Burke sealed the bonus point and further efforts from half-backs Cormac O’Leary and Scott Finlay and Burke again completed the rout, with the latter also kicking four conversions for a 18-point personal tally.

Teenager Burke (pictured below) is a talented young back who lined out for Connacht at full-back in the recent Under-19 Interprovincial Championship.

Three penalties from number 10 Paul Daly were enough for Midleton to edge out Sligo 9-3 at Towns Park, while Armagh continued on the winning trail with a 20-15 defeat of Navan at the Palace Grounds.

Without out-half Shane Carr, who last week succumbed to the dreaded cruciate injury curse that has plagued Navan recently, the Meath men still made a strong start up north with an early penalty from player-coach Alan Kingsley.

A pushover try opened Armagh’s account but three further penalties from Kingsley gave the visitors a 12-10 buffer at the break.

The home support were delighted to see their Mark Riddell-captained side burst into an eight-point lead thanks to a terrific third quarter push and Navan’s only response was a late fifth penalty from Kingsley which earned them a losing bonus point.

Kingsley said afterwards: “We’re disappointed not to get the win after a solid performance. There were some clear improvements from the Kanturk game but we still need to execute better, be more clinical with the ball, and cut out the individual errors.”

Meanwhile, Highfield did most of the damage in the first half to win their Munster derby clash with Old Crescent – 30-13 – at Woodleigh Park.

The Corkmen burst out of the blocks with tries from David Kelly and Tim Ryan inside the first quarter. Conor Forde (33 minutes) and Peter Martin (36) both touched down approaching half-time as Old Crescent, who suffered a 30th minute sin-binning, fell 24-3 behind.

Ex-Munster prop Tim Ryan is now Highfield’s player-coach, tasked with driving the club’s bid to bounce back from relegation last season. They also have a new backs coach in Mike Poole, Ryan’s former Newport Gwent Dragons team-mate.

Crescent’s Shane O’Brien kicked a second penalty and Kevin Doyle added a converted try in the second period, but Highfield – despite losing Martin Gately and Wayne Falvey to the sin-bin – were relatively untroubled as a penalty and drop goal from Paddy O’Toole wrapped up the win.

The Ards v Bruff match was postponed due to the death of Bruff RFC player and former senior team manager Alfie Laffan last Wednesday. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alfie’s family, friends and fellow club members at this sad time.

– Photos courtesy of Janusz Trzesicki and Colbert O’Sullivan

ROUND 2 RESULTS:

Ards v Bruff, Hamilton Park (Match postponed)
Armagh 20 Navan 15, Palace Grounds
De La Salle Palmerston 43 Richmond 7, Kirwan Park
Highfield 30 Old Crescent 13, Woodleigh Park
Kanturk 35 Boyne 10, Knocknacolan
Midleton 9 Sligo 3, Towns Park
Sunday’s Well 13 Tullamore 27, Musgrave Park
Greystones 33 Wanderers 14, Dr. Hickey Park (played on Friday)