UL Bohemians and Ballynahinch are the early pacesetters in Ulster Bank League Division 1B, while newcomers Naas also made a winning start at their Forenaughts base this afternoon.
BALLYNAHINCH 35 BUCCANEERS 13, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Steve Macauley, Conor Joyce, Sam Windsor 2, Jordan Grattan; Cons: Chris Quinn, Johnny McPhillips 4
Buccaneers: Tries: Cian Romaine, Shane Layden; Pen: Conor McKeon
HT: Ballynahinch 7 Buccaneers 0
Ballynahinch produced a storming second half display to run out comprehensive 35-13 winners over Buccaneers at Ballymacarn Park.
Four of ‘Hinch’s five converted tries came in the closing 40 minutes, including a brace from Ulster’s Sam Windsor who started at inside centre.
Derek Suffern’s charges had 22 points to spare when the sides met in last April’s relegation/promotion play-offs, but a tight first half today ended 7-0 in the hosts’ favour.
Returning full-back Steve Macauley crossed before half-time. Chris Quinn’s conversion kept the Ulstermen in front after Connacht prospect Cian Romaine replied for Buccs, early in the second period.
‘Hinch gave themselves some breathing space thanks to a Conor Joyce effort, following an initial break by number 8 and captain Mike Graham.
An error-strewn spell was ended by Windsor’s first try of the afternoon, cancelling out a Conor McKeon penalty, and ‘Hinch’s bonus point score was soon finished off by centre Jordan Grattan, rewarding an excellent carry from the restart by replacement Joe Roe.
Former Connacht back Shane Layden and Windsor swapped late tries, with Ireland Under-20 out-half Johnny McPhillips, who has moved from Queen’s University to ‘Hinch, nailing his fourth successful conversion.
BALLYNAHINCH: Steve Macauley; Davy Nicholson, Jordan Grattan, Sam Windsor, Chris Quinn; Ross Carlisle, Aaron Cairns; Jonny Blair, Andrew Harper, Craig Trenier, James Simpson, John Donnan, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow, Mike Graham (capt).
Replacements: Stuart Orr, Joe Roe, Connor Phillips, Johnny McPhilips, Chris Gibson.
BUCCANEERS: Shane Layden; Rory O’Connor, Alan Gaughan, Mata Fifita, Jordan Conroy; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, Shane Delahunt, Dylan Quinn, Ruairi Byrne, Cian Romaine, Stephen McVeigh, Evan Galvin, Kolo Kiripati (capt).
Replacements: John Sutton, Rory Grenham, James Foley, Graham Lynch, Eoghan O’Reilly.
DOLPHIN 10 UL BOHEMIANS 41, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Try: Cameron O’Shaughnessy; Con: Cillian Monahan; Pen: Cillian Monahan
UL Bohemians: Tries: Harry Fleming, Cathal Sheridan, Rick McKenna, Finbar Aherne, Jamie McNamara, Cian Aherne; Cons: Rick McKenna 4; Pen: Rick McKenna
HT: Dolphin 3 UL Bohemians 19
This was arguably the result of the day in Division 1B as UL Bohemians gave Munster rivals Dolphin a 31-point hammering in Cork.
Christy Neilan’s first league game in charge of Bohs could hardly have gone any better, while David Corkery’s coaching reign at Dolphin got off to a nightmare start.
Winger Harry Fleming came back to haunt his former club in the opening half, running in the first of Bohs’ six tries as they took a 19-0 lead.
Fleming went over in the corner in the 16th minute, former Munster scrum half Cathal Sheridan finished off a classy team move for the second and then quick hands released centre Rick McKenna to score on the half hour mark.
A penalty from out-half Cillian Monahan was Dolphin’s only first half response at 19-3, but UL’s bonus point was secured by replacement Finbar Aherne in the 52nd minute.
Gobbling up a 68th minute intercept, winger Jamie McNamara impressively burst clear from his own 22 to run in the Red Robins’ fifth try of this one-sided encounter, and a McKenna penalty widened the margin to 34-3.
Although Dolphin debutant Cameron O’Shaughnessy came off the bench to score a 78th-minute consolation effort, barely a minute later Cian Aherne was over at the other end to have the final say for Bohs.
DOLPHIN: Cian Daly; Gerry Ryan, Cian McGovern, Ian O’Donoghue, Will Hanly; Cillian Monahan, Daryl Foley; James Rochford, Caolan O’Flynn, Liam Walsh, John Madigan, Dave O’Mahony (capt), Karl Keogh, Kevin Allen, Barry Fitzgerald.
Replacements: Shane Bushe, Dave Hartnett, Ryan Murphy, Cameron O’Shaughnessy, Killian O’Keeffe.
UL BOHEMIANS: Colin Ryan; Jamie McNamara, Cian Aherne, Rick McKenna, Harry Fleming; Robbie Bourke, Cathal Sheridan; Eamon Boland, Joe Bennett, Peter King, Ed Kelly, Noel Kinane, James Ryan, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.
Replacements: Phil Poillot, Joe Moloney, Pat Staff, Joe Murray, Finbar Aherne.
NAAS 18 GALWEGIANS 13, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Fionn Carr, Henry Bryce; Con: Peter Osborne; Pens: Peter Osborne 2
Galwegians: Try: Ed O’Keeffe; Con: Mitch Lam; Pens: Mitch Lam 2
HT: Naas 12 Galwegians 3
Johne Murphy’s Naas ground out a hard-fought 18-13 victory over Galwegians in front of their vocal home support at Forenaughts.
Last season’s Division 2A champions had scrum half Peter Osborne to thank for their winning start in the second tier, as he nailed two penalties in the 72nd and 74th minutes to decide this gripping game.
Defences were on top until Fionn Carr, Connacht’s record try scorer who is back on the domestic club scene with Naas, ran in a typically swashbuckling try from deep, 29 minutes in.
Mitch Lam, the son of Carr’s former provincial coach Pat Lam, replied with a penalty for Galwegians, but Naas’ 18-stone powerhouse centre Henry Bryce crossed courtesy of a charge-down on the stroke of half-time.
The Kildare club’s 12-3 lead at the break was eaten into by new out-half Lam’s second penalty, seven minutes into the second half.
Indeed, ‘Wegians hit the front with little over 10 minutes remaining, Connacht Academy winger Ed O’Keeffe breaking free to open his try account for the season and Lam’s conversion made it 13-12.
But Murphy’s men roused themselves for a big finish, winning a couple of kickable penalties which the 24-year-old Osborne sent through the uprights with great aplomb.
NAAS: Fionn Higgins; Fionn Carr, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Andrew Shanahan; Ben Swindlehurst, Peter Osborne; Dan O’Beirn, Charlie Kings, Jason Harney, David Benn, Paul Monahan, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua.
Replacements: Conor Johnson, Adam Coyle, Eoin Walsh, Warren Larkin, Michael Skelton.
GALWEGIANS: Adam Leavy; Matthew Byrne, Cormac Brennan, Brian Murphy (capt), Ed O’Keeffe; Mitch Lam, Barry Lee; Jason East, Jack Dinneen, Conan O’Donnell, Matt Towey, Eoin Tarmey, Paul Hacket, Josh Pim, Anthony Ryan.
Replacements: Patrick Curran, John Moloney, Ronan Moore, Aidan Moynihan, Dave Clarke.
SHANNON 19 BALLYMENA 25, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Try: Ronan McKenna; Con: Ronan McKenna; Pens: Ronan McKenna 4
Ballymena: Tries: Mark Best, Rodger McBurney, Jordan Foster; Cons: Mark Best 2; Pens: Mark Best 2
HT: Shannon 13 Ballymena 25
Ballymena did all their scoring in the first half as they got the better of Shannon, earning a 25-19 triumph on Thomond Park’s back pitch.
Mark Best’s league debut for the Braidmen saw him score 15 points, with his new back-line colleagues, Rodger McBurney and Jordan Foster, also grounding tries.
It was effectively Ronan McKenna versus Best inside the opening quarter of the hour, as the pair scored 10 points apiece.
Shannon out-half McKenna touched down in the second minute, following up on a Richie Mullane hack through, but just three minutes later Ulster squad member Best proved unstoppable when fed quick lineout ball in midfield.
Both tries were converted and McKenna and Best exchanged penalties before a very well-taken try from strong-running full-back McBurney, who expertly shrugged off two attempted tackles, had the visitors leading 15-10.
Although McKenna thumped over a fine penalty on the half hour mark, Ballymena answered back with 10 points before the break. Foster got on the scoresheet, brilliantly breaking out of his own half and winning the race to his own kick through, and Best was successful with two more kicks.
Marcus Horan’s side improved on the restart, McKenna landing two of his three penalty attempts between the 45th and 50th minutes.
Ballymena kept them out during a sin-bin period and despite picking up a losing bonus point for their efforts, Shannon were left to rue two fruitless attacks that saw them held up over the Ballymena try-line.
SHANNON: Stephen Fitzgerald; Richie Mullane, Shane Mullally, Robert Deegan, Tim Tobin; Ronan McKenna, Keith Kavanagh; Conor Glynn, Ty Chan, Tony Cusack, Barrie Duggan, Riley Winter, Brian Downey, James Vaughan, Lee Nicholas.
Replacements: Niall Mulcahy, John Andress, Jack Foley, Sean Markham, Ben Sargent.
BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Jordan Foster, Paddy James, Mark Best, Jonny Rosborough; Glenn Baillie, John Creighton; Michael Lagan, Adam McBurney, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Kieran Treadwell, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Matthew Rea.
Replacements: Andrew Ferguson, James Taggart, James Gallagher, Tony McGinness, Richie McMaster.
UCC 20 OLD WESLEY 23, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Conor Barry, Peter McCabe; Cons: Kevin O’Keeffe 2; Pens: Kevin O’Keeffe 2
Old Wesley: Tries: Ger Finucane, Paul Harte; Cons: Barry McLaughlin 2; Pens: Barry McLaughlin 3
HT: UCC 10 Old Wesley 7
Barry McLaughlin’s accurate place-kicking proved to be the difference at the Mardyke where Old Wesley overcame UCC 23-20.
UCC’s maiden outing in Division 1B seemed to be going to plan as they built a 10-7 half-time lead, aided by flanker Conor Barry’s converted try.
But the Cork youngsters had to endure a difficult spell after the break, with out-half Charlie O’Regan seeing yellow for taking a player out in the air.
A high tackle then allowed McLaughlin to kick Wesley level and he punished UCC’s indiscipline again to move his side back in front at 13-10.
Lock Richard Moran was next to be binned for the hosts, the resulting penalty arrowed over by McLaughlin, but a great long range strike from UCC winger Kevin O’Keeffe kept the deficit at three points.
Although McLaughlin’s radar was off for his next attempt, Wesley’s new Kiwi centre Isaac Leota delighted the travelling support with his break and offload for Paul Harte’s 69th-minute try, converted by 13-point winger McLaughlin.
That concession seemed to bring the best out of this young UCC team, who won back possession at a Wesley lineout and it was loosehead prop Peter McCabe who barged through to make it 23-20.
UCC pressed and pressed in the dying minutes, but Wesley scrambled well and controlled possession in their own half to see out a hard-earned win on the road.
UCC: Chris McAuliffe; Kevin O’Keeffe, Kevin Slater (capt), Murray Linn, Cillian Ansbro; Charlie O’Regan, Richard Walsh; Peter McCabe, Ben Burns, Charlie Slowey, Ben Mitchell, Richard Moran, Conor Barry, Cathal Gallagher, Daire Feeney.
Replacements: Danny Collins, Emmett McCarthey, Darragh Moloney, Graham Smith, James Kiernan.
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Paul Harte; Tim Clifford, Ian Cassidy; Martin Gately, Craig Telford, David Henshaw, Michael Dunleavy, Iain McGann, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Josh Hinde.
Replacements: Andrew McCrann, Ivan Campbell, Mark Rowley, James Nolan, Adam Griggs.