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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Stephen O’Neill’s first half try was the difference between the teams at Lakelands Park as Terenure College continued their dream start to life in Division 1A with a 14-9 win over defending champions Clontarf.



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This was Terenure’s fifth victory of the current campaign and extended their winning streak in the Ulster Bank League to an incredible 28 games, and in the process dented Clontarf’s title defence with a second defeat.

James Blaney’s men dominated possession during the early rain-hit exchanges and after weathering this particular storm, Clontarf watched their out-half David Joyce hit the post with a 40-metre penalty.

The hosts duly opened the scoring with a brace of successful penalties from Joyce’s opposite number, James Thornton, after 21 and 25 minutes.

The usually accurate Joyce was also off target from the kicking tee six minutes before the interval, and the north Dubliners were left to rue this miss when Stephen O’Neill touched down on 37 minutes.

After racing on to a kick from distance, the outside centre used the space afforded to him to boot the ball towards the try-line and touch down on the right. Thornton’s missed conversion left it 11-0 at the interval.

Clontarf upped the intensity when the second period got underway and they finally opened their account in the 54th minute. Following Joyce’s earlier missed efforts, replacement Alan Hughes stepped up to slot a penalty from the 22.

‘Nure, who introduced Connacht loanee John Cooney off the bench, were holding their own against the rising Clontarf tide heading into the final quarter.

Having featured for Lansdowne during their 2012/13 league title-winning season, local boy Cooney provides great experience for Terenure, and given his injury troubles in recent months, he will have benefitted greatly from this run-out.

Indeed, a strong break by Cooney paved the way for Thornton’s third penalty, 13 minutes from time. He converted confidently to offer Terenure some breathing space.

Hughes responded with his second and third penalties of the afternoon to make life difficult for Terenure once again but despite their best endeavours, ‘Tarf had to be content with a losing bonus point in the end.

Ballynahinch are up to fourth in the league table thanks to a brilliant final quarter effort against St. Mary’s College which saw them run out 33-13 bonus point winners at rain-soaked Ballymacarn Park.

Tries in each half from Ray Crotty and Rob Sweeney had the Dubliners leading 13-6 approaching the hour mark, but Derek Suffern’s side produced a tremendous 27-point turnaround.

Centre Richard Reaney got the scoreboard moving for Ballynahinch again with his third successful penalty and an unconverted try in the corner soon after.

That made it 14-13 and it got even better for the hosts when Ulster Ravens winger Ross Adair followed a kick through to touch down in the 74th minute and Reaney converted.

Two minutes later, Charlie Butterworth charged down a Mary’s kick for centre Robin Harte to grab what looked like the clinching try. His centre partner Reaney converted and also added the extras to a 78th minute penalty try – the bonus point score – as he finished the game with a handsome 18-point haul.

Young Munster are also heading in the right direction thanks to back-to-back wins, their latest success seeing them overcome Cork Constitution on a tight 9-6 scoreline at Temple Hill.

Australian full-back Ben Martin scored 21 points in Munsters’ most recent victory at home to Old Belvedere, and he took that match-winning form on the road to Cork by slotting a decisive second half penalty.

The Cookies won 16-10 at Temple Hill last January and it was obvious their confidence is up at the moment as despite difficult conditions, including a cross-field wind, they broke into an early 6-0 lead.

Martin landed a second minute penalty and out-half Willie Staunton added a neatly-taken drop goal. Constitution were back level by the 18th minute, though, thanks to two Darragh Lyons penalties.

The Leesiders had captain Gerry Hurley back at scrum half but the Cookies limited his influence and their forwards got the upper hand as conditions deteriorated in the second half.

The visiting pack won a penalty at a scrum in the 68th minute which saw Martin boot them back in front, and John Staunton’s charges produced a strong finish to seal the result.

Dolphin avoided defeat for the first time in this season’s Ulster Bank League with a deserved 22-22 draw with Old Belvedere at Anglesea Road.

Ex-Old Christians scrum half Stuart Lee came off the bench to nervelessly nail a last-minute levelling penalty for Dolphin, whose forwards in particular put in a great shift in the second half.

Old Belvedere had looked on course for their first win in four league outings, opening up a 15-0 first half advantage on the back of Josh Glynn and Kieran O’Gorman tries.

But Dolphin scored a timely try just before half-time and with the wind at their backs during the closing 40 minutes, Steve Ford’s men forced the issue up front.

Returning hooker Niall Scannell and fellow forwards Chris Rowe and Ryan Murphy all crossed the whitewash, with Munster flanker Sean Dougall getting some more game-time following his recent shoulder injury.

Although a Rory O’Loughlin try had ‘Belvo 22-12 to the good, the division’s bottom side managed to reel them in with Lee’s late kick giving the Corkmen a valuable two league points.

Meanwhile, Lansdowne fell to their second successive league defeat as they went down 19-10 to a spirited UCD side on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch.

The students won at the same venue at the start of last season – 27-14 – and they repeated the trick with out-half Ross Byrne scoring a try and three penalties and Peadar Timmins also touching down.

UCD made use of a strong wind to open up an 11-0 advantage, but a 32nd minute penalty try – converted by Scott Deasy – kept Lansdowne within touching distance at 11-7.

Deasy split the posts again in the 43rd minute, cancelling out Byrne’s third successful penalty, but despite a second sin-binning for UCD they went on to take the spoils. Byrne bagged the match-winning try in the 67th minute, with his Ireland Under-20 colleague Garry Ringrose impressing in the build-up to it.