Despite losing to local rivals Bruff, Old Crescent are top of the Ulster Bank League Division 2C table for Christmas with Tullamore, Bruff and Wanderers lining up behind them.
Old Crescent’s lead at the summit has been cut to five points following their 15-9 reversal at Kilballyowen Park last Friday night. They were on course for their second successive derby win, leading 9-3 at the interval thanks to a hat-trick of penalties from Larry Hanly.
However, hosts Bruff struck for a couple of well-worked tries in the second half, with Tony Cahill converting Declan Bannon’s 64th-minute effort and John Hogan touching down in injury-time. The try count was 4-1 to Bruff over the two games and their strong finish means they are back up to third place ahead of the festive period.
Tullamore, who have a game in hand, are nicely positioned in second following a 49-0 bonus point dismissal of lowly Sligo at Spollanstown. Winger Jordan Conroy ran in a brace of tries and Kevin Browne, Gavin Kelly, Karl Dunne, Tom Gilligan and Adrian Hanley also crossed the whitewash, with Dunne kicking the rest of the points.
The second Friday Night Lights clash of the round produced a narrow win for Boyne against Dundalk as Niall Ronan’s men completed a season’s double over their local rivals. They came away from Mill Road with a 21-19 triumph, however a nasty injury to their tighthead prop Hugh Carolan marred the result.
The strong-carrying Carolan unfortunately suffered a double forearm fracture as he competed for a ball that had popped out of a ruck during the final quarter. After being hospitalised, he has had surgery to repair the damage and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.
A neatly-finished try from winger Adam Brodigan, expertly converted by Niall Kerbey, gave the visitors a 15-6 buffer at the break, but Dundalk stayed in touch thanks to their third successful penalty goal.
Indeed, the home side struck for two tries in the second period – just reward for a terrific collective effort from their industrious pack as they earned a losing bonus point for the second week running.
Out-half Kerbey was Boyne’s match winner, though, as he landed two more penalties – the second coming after his own midfield break almost saw him cross the whitewash. Dundalk infringed, losing a player to the sin-bin and Kerbey’s resulting place-kick proved just enough at 21-14 as Dundalk hit back with a five-pointer in deepest injury-time, only for the crucial conversion to miss the target.
Boyne are back in action this Saturday, making the short trip to Balreask Old for another crunch encounter with a Navan team buoyed by their 28-18 home win over Wanderers. When Navan visited Boyne in early November they carved out a hard-fought 16-13 success.
Last Saturday, Wanderers fell to their third defeat in four games as Navan got back in touch with the five sides currently sitting above them in the league standings.
The Meath men, determined to bounce back from a 27-18 loss in Dublin last week, established an 11-3 interval lead and although Wanderers cut the gap to 18-13 following a Lorcan Burke try, Navan responded with a 10-point spurt.
Out-half Colm O’Reilly played a key role for Alan Kingsley’s victors, firing over two conversions and three penalties, while they tallied up three tries through Simon Hogan, David King and Ray Moloney.
ROUND 10 RESULTS –
Bruff 15 Old Crescent 9, Kilballyowen Park (played on Friday)
Dundalk 19 Boyne 21, Mill Road (played on Friday)
Kanturk v Midleton, Knocknacolan (match postponed due to unplayable pitch)
Navan 28 Wanderers 18, Balreask Old
Tullamore 49 Sligo 0, Spollanstown