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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

With Wanderers losing away to Midleton, Limerick rivals Bruff and Old Crescent are now riding high at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 2C following the third round matches.

Bruff’s hard-earned 17-15 victory away to Navan has them a point clear at the summit, and wily full-back Brendan Deady was on the mark again with his fourth try in three league outings.

Hosts Navan lost their grip on a 12-7 half-time advantage and also leaked the game’s decisive score when leading 15-10 at Balreask Old. Brian Cahill came off the bench to score Bruff’s second try, following up on a terrific five-metre scrum. His brother Tony stepped up to land the conversion that split the sides and made it three wins from three for Tony Trehy’s men.

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Second-placed Old Crescent are the only other club still with a 100% record in the division. Tries in each half from Brian Tuohy and Nigel Kerr got the job done at Knocknacolan, with hosts Kanturk overhauled with 10 minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, Boyne moved back into the top half of the table thanks to their second victory of the campaign – a 32-13 bonus point success at home to bottom side Sligo.

In front of one of the largest crowds at Shamrock Lodge in recent memory, Sligo made an early impression at scrum time but it was the hosts who hit the front in the 10th minute when a slick blindside move sent flanker Larry Robles over for a try.

Robles’ combination play with Karl Keogh and powerful new signing James Mose in the back row was a key feature of Boyne’s game, and Keogh added the conversion from wide on the left for an early 7-0 lead.

Sligo turned down a several kickable penalties in the hope of crossing the whitewash. Their reliable scrum and lineout gave them the ideal platform, however they had to settle for a three-pointer from Connacht underage player Jack Keegan after Boyne’s Hugh Carolan was sin-binned for killing the ball in the 22nd minute.

A monster penalty by Keogh from near the halfway line was then cancelled out by Sligo’s lone try as second row Cian Cassidy drove over following a sustained bout of forward pressure from the visitors. Keegan’s conversion had the sides level, before a second Keogh penalty edged Boyne in front for half-time – 13-10.

The men from the north west managed to respond off the kicking tee, early on the resumption, but the Boyne backs soon took over, continuing to slice through the tiring Sligo defence as the second half wore on.

Centre Bevan Duffy was their chief strike runner, using his pace to evade a number of tackles and bag a brace of tries. His brother, full-back Eoghan Duffy, put his name to the bonus point score in the dying seconds.

Interestingly, there are now three sets of brothers in the current Boyne squad – the aforementioned Duffys, Oisin and Brian Howell and Richard and Patrick Shuttleworth who have all come through the club’s underage ranks. Head coach Niall Ronan will hope some of their early season injuries clear up ahead of next weekend’s trip to Old Crescent, but a hamstring tear looks set to keep strong-running centre Ronan O’Brien out for a while.

At Mill Road, Dundalk’s search for an opening league triumph goes on after Tullamore defeated them 39-7 in what turned out to be a one-sided match. Leon Martin and Rob Connor touched down in the first half, and Connor, Colin Finnerty and Jordan Conroy added further tries with ex-Leinster Youths player Karl Dunne kicking 14 points (four conversions and two penalties).

From the high of beating Boyne on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch to the low of a narrow loss in Midleton. Wanderers’ winning start to the season was ended by the Corkmen who held on for a deserved 21-15 victory at Towns Park.

Midleton, who are now up to third in the standings, led 9-5 at the break courtesy of three Stuart Lee penalties. The Dubliners had opened the scoring in the 26th minute with an unconverted try from Paddy Mallon, who profited from a spell of forward pressure.

Despite a seven-pointer from Niall O’Donoghue, eight minutes into the second period, injuries took their toll on Wanderers as the Midleton pack grew in confidence and stature. Ryan Lehane burrowed over from a five-metre scrum in the 64th minute, and the hosts struck again six minutes later as hooker Mike Sinclair scored from a rolling maul.

Wanderers hit back with a 75th minute penalty to get themselves in losing bonus point range, and that proved to be the final score of a well-contested game refereed by former Ireland Women’s international Joy Neville.

ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Boyne 32 Sligo 13, Shamrock Lodge
Dundalk 7 Tullamore 39, Mill Road
Kanturk 11 Old Crescent 18, Knocknacolan
Midleton 21 Wanderers 15, Towns Park
Navan 15 Bruff 17, Balreask Old