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Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1A Review

Connacht squad member Shane O’Leary made the most of his late inclusion in the Galwegians team as his 18-point haul helped them beat bottom side Ballynahinch 33-16 at Crowley Park in Ulster Bank League Division 1A.



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Shane O’Leary was drafted in at inside centre, linking up with Brian Murphy, and he played a crucial role as his two tries and four conversions helped Galwegians put an end to their three-match losing streak.

Ulster lock Peter Browne opened the scoring for Ballynahinch with a ninth minute try, but the hosts built a 21-13 interval lead in breezy conditions. Caolin Blade’s break was finished off by Murphy, O’Leary then crashed through in the 25th minute and scrum half Blade sniped over on the stroke of half-time.

Chris Quinn’s boot kept ‘Hinch in the hunt, with the strong wind behind them in the second period. However, ‘Wegians made certain of the win and the bonus point with further tries from full-back Ciaran Gaffney, who profited from a John Cleary break, and O’Leary again in the 70th minute.

UCD may have been in free-scoring form of late, but they showed their ability to win a tight contest when coming from behind to defeat Garryowen 13-6 at Dooradoyle.

Noel McNamara’s students moved to the top of Division 1A table, taking advantage of Clontarf’s draw with Lansdowne, as second half tries from hooker Sean McNulty and scrum half Jamie Glynn proved crucial in Limerick.

UCD were unable to take full advantage of a strong first half wind, with two penalties from Neil Cronin giving Garryowen a 6-3 half-time buffer. Leinster’s Ross Byrne sandwiched in a place-kick for the visitors, and early pressure on the restart saw hooker McNulty pile over from a rolling maul.

Glynn, a former Garryowen player and one steeped in the history of the Limerick club with his father Liam and grandfather both being heavily involved, sealed the result for College with a 79th minute unconverted score.

Lansdowne captain Scott Deasy converted Joe O’Brien’s late try to secure a 23-all draw with previous Division 1A table toppers Clontarf in a super-charged clash at the Aviva Stadium.

‘Tarf will be kicking themselves as a lapse in discipline saw their Leinster hooker Aaron Dundon sent-off and lock Tom Byrne sin-binned, with the 13 men – defending a 23-16 lead – unable to prevent Lansdowne flanker O’Brien from going over.

Ireland Under-20 out-half Joey Carbery was the game’s dominant figure up to that point, slotting six penalty goals to add to his half-back partner Sam Cronin’s try. Leading 17-6 at the break, ‘Tarf leaked a try with full-back Rob Keogh going to the bin and their discipline let them down late on, as O’Brien and Deasy earned a share of the spoils for the defending champions.

Experienced full-back Daniel Riordan’s brace of tries drove Old Belvedere to a hard-fought 19-17 victory over Cork Constitution at Anglesea Road.

Niall Kenneally and Riordan swapped tries in the opening half, with both sides profiting from quick tap penalties to score. Two Shane McDonald penalties had the hosts leading 11-7 at the turnaround.

‘Belvo did well to defend Constitution’s mauls, with Declan Lavery and Jack Kelly particularly effective in the forward exchanges, and when they put some width on the ball, the Steve Crosbie-marshalled back-line teed up a second five-pointer for Riordan.

McDonald added his third penalty for 19-7 but with Lavery in the bin and John Kennedy also seeing yellow, the Leesiders fought back for a losing bonus point thanks to closing tries from replacements Daniel Walsh and Darren Sweetnam.

Ireland Sevens international Gearoid Lyons was in match-winning form for Young Munster as they claimed the scalp of Terenure College, winning 26-8 at Lakelands Park.

The Cookies made it four league wins on the trot with out-half Lyons tallying up 21 points – a try, two conversions and four penalties – on Terenure’s new all-weather pitch. David Corkery’s wind-backed team were already 26-3 to the good by half-time, obviously eager for revenge after losing 42-0 away to ‘Nure last season.

Lyons kicked three penalties and then converted his own intercept try approaching the interval. A driving maul saw number 8 Ben Kilkenny – a nephew of Keith Wood – claim try number two in the 37th minute and Lyons tagged on a very well-struck fourth penalty in the dying seconds.

Lyons’ South African half-back partner Abrie Griesel was sin-binned nine minutes into the second period, but the Cookies’ forward strength kept ‘Nure at bay until replacement prop Rory Harrison crashed over to add to James Thornton’s first half penalty.

However, Munsters defended resolutely for the remainder, particularly during five minutes of injury-time, and they are now up to fifth in the table – six points behind new leaders UCD.