There were three away victories in the newly-formed Ulster Bank League Division 2C on Saturday, with Bruff, Wanderers and Old Crescent all winning on the road. But Navan seized top spot with a 54-10 hammering of Sligo.
There was late drama at Shamrock Lodge where Boyne, coached by former Leinster, Munster and Ireland flanker Niall Ronan, bagged a last-gasp try to defeat Midleton 31-29.
Karl Keogh banged over three first half penalties for Boyne, including a long range opener from the right, but Midleton fought their way to a 10-9 half-time lead thanks mainly to a penalty try won from a series of scrums.
The visitors turned around with the breeze behind them, yet they were stung by an early Boyne try as a clever move from a lineout saw replacement hooker Paddy Shuttleworth take an inside pass to go over in the corner. Keogh followed up with a brilliant touchline conversion for 16-10.
Midleton, who suffered a second sin-binning for a high tackle, replied in the 66th minute. A concerted spell of pressure from their forwards produced an unconverted try from lock Sean White, closing the gap to a single point.
Instead of slowing up in a tense finish, the rate of scoring increased. Boyne out-half Niall Kerbey split the posts with a superb kick from 50 metres out and their back-line clicked into gear to tee up winger Brian Howell for a five-pointer.
Now trailing 24-15, Midleton knuckled down and their pack power was on display again in earning a second penalty try in the 75th minute. Just three minutes later, the Corkmen were ahead. A counter attack from Boyne full-back Eoghan Duffy broke down, scrum half Shaun Rooney’s attempted clearance was charged down and Midleton replacement Bryan Moore won the race to the touchdown and the conversion was added.
There was one more twist, though, as Boyne’s patient build-up play was rewarded when the Duffy brothers, Bevan and Eoghan, combined for the latter (pictured below) to run in a decisive score by the posts and the subsequent conversion separated the sides right at the death.
League newcomers Dundalk, who are now coached by former Skerries boss John Murphy, fell to a 35-16 defeat in their first match in the senior ranks at Mill Road. Two Bruff yellow cards saw the hosts finish the first half strongly, edging into a 16-15 lead.
However, Bruff used their greater experience and strength-in-depth to dominate the second period. Hooker John Hogan burst through for their third try, adding to full-back Brendan Deady’s brace in the opening 33 minutes.
The Limerick club bagged the bonus point as backs and forwards combined to put centre Tom O’Callaghan over. Tony Cahill, their talented scrum half, converted both scores and added two more penalties to see Bruff run out convincing 19-point winners.
Mark Healy’s late penalty – his fifth in all – secured a losing bonus point for Kanturk in their 32-27 reversal against visitors Wanderers at Knocknacolan.
The Dubliners seized the initiative early on with unconverted tries from Geoff Mullan and Olan Dennehy, with Healy’s reliable boot keeping Kanturk in touch. Dennehy’s second score was cancelled out by a Jason Sheehan effort from a rolling maul as the hosts closed the gap to 17-14 by half-time.
Wanderers’ firepower was too much for Kanturk to handle as Paddy Mallon put his name to their bonus point score, however it was a single-point game after Ben Martin’s men turned the screw up front and forced a penalty try which out-half Healy converted for 22-21.
The talented Peter Brougham then took centre stage for Wanderers, slicing open the Kanturk defence with a superb line break and he had the pace to make the line from 25 metres out. As Healy’s boot kept Kanturk in the hunt, Brougham responded with an important 68th-minute penalty to maintain his side’s eight-point advantage. Although Wanderers were down to 14 men late on, Healy’s final penalty was all Kanturk could muster.
The sunny, dry conditions were to Navan’s liking at Balreask Old as they took Sligo apart in a runaway 54-10 victory. The bonus point was in the bag by half-time as Colm O’Reilly, Paul McDonald and Simon Hogan (2) all crossed the whitewash.
The Co. Meath side tallied up eight tries in the end with Hogan completing his hat-trick and David Sheridan, Neil Paterson and Leighton Jackson also dotting down in the second half. Stuart O’Brien notched a late consolation try for Sligo.
Old Crescent’s superior second half display earned them a hard-fought 13-12 win over Tullamore. They came from 12-3 down to take the spoils at Spollanstown, with Shane O’Brien kicking two penalties and converting Kevin Meade’s key 72nd-minute try.
ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Boyne 31 Midleton 29, Shamrock Lodge
Dundalk 16 Bruff 35, Mill Road
Kanturk 27 Wanderers 32, Knocknacolan
Navan 54 Sligo 10, Balreask Old
Tullamore 12 Old Crescent 13, Spollanstown