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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Galwegians and Garryowen both gained significant ground in the race for promotion from Ulster Bank League Division 1B, as they won today’s top four clashes at Eaton Park and College Park respectively.



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Despite losing front rowers Doron McHugh and Ciaran Gavin to early arm injuries, Galwegians showed impressive resilience to beat fellow promotion hopefuls Ballymena 25-17 in a real cliffhanger.

Trailing 17-13, ‘Wegians hit back with tries from full-back John ‘Luigi’ Cleary (pictured below) (63 minutes) and talented young out-half Aidan Moynihan (75) to secure the win. Moynihan converted his effort from in front of the posts to deny the Braidmen a losing bonus point.

The hard-earned result has Matt Brown’s men two points clear of Garryowen at the top of the table and they are now seven points better off than third-placed Trinity.

Tries from in-form winger Jordan Foster and Ulster front row recruit Dave Ryan, who crossed following sustained pressure in the rain, had Ballymena ahead before an excellent Rory Parata score made it 13-12 to ‘Wegians at the break.

The home side enjoyed the better of the third quarter as a terrific cross-field kick from out-half Ritchie McMaster played in replacement Jonny Rosborough for an unconverted try. However, the league leaders went up a gear during the closing stages to win on their first visit to Ulster this season – they also have to travel to Malone and Belfast Harlequins next month.

Dublin University’s 10-match unbeaten run was ended by Garryowen in another dramatic finish in the capital, as Jamie Gavin’s late penalty – followed up by a blocked Trinity drop goal – saw the Light Blues triumph 24-23.

Gavin’s kick was Garryowen’s only score of the second half. They laid the foundations for victory in the opening 40 minutes during which their starting back-three – James McInerney, Alex Wootton and James Frawley (pictured below) – all touched down for a 21-3 lead.

Trinity took advantage of the sin-binning of Garryowen number 8 Josh Hrstich to kickstart their comeback. Tries followed from Tom Ryan, Tim Maupin and Nick McCarthy, however full-back Conor Kearns could only land one conversion and Gavin had the final say for the visitors.

One of the results of the day in the second tier saw Belfast Harlequins beat a disappointing Shannon side 31-13 at Deramore Park to climb to sixth spot in the standings.

26-21 winners at Thomond Park in November, ‘Quins completed the double over the Limerick men thanks to tries from Mark Glover, Ulster’s Neil McComb and Junior Bulumakau as well as 16 points from Michael Heaney’s accurate boot.

UL Bohemians moved off bottom spot courtesy of a 16-6 defeat of Malone at Annacotty, with Mossy Lawler, the recently-appointed Connacht Elite Player Development Officer, scoring the game’s only try.

Robbie Bourke kicked Bohs in front with a 15th minute penalty but a good strike from Malone’s Neil Burns levelled matters five minutes later.

On the stroke of half-time, former Munster player Lawler, lining out at full-back, broke through for a try which winger Bourke converted. Bourke landed two more penalties in the 54th and 72nd minutes to copper-fasten UL’s first league win since early December.

The Friday Night Lights meeting of Corinthians and Buccaneers saw the Pirates prevail on a 17-14 scoreline, as Alan Gaughan converted two second half tries – a penalty try and a well-taken score by Ireland Under-20 lock Cian Romaine. Buccs remain in fifth place, though, some 17 points behind the leaders.