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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Newly-promoted Bangor were beaten on their Division 2C debut as their Ulster rivals Rainey Old Boys took the spoils at Upritchard Park, while Midleton won their Cork derby with Kanturk to climb straight to the top of the table.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2C: Saturday, September 17

ROUND 1 RESULTS –

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Bangor 18 Rainey Old Boys 24, Upritchard Park
Boyne 24 Bruff 19, Shamrock Lodge
Midleton 30 Kanturk 9, Towns Park
Seapoint 22 Tullamore 18, Kilbogget Park
Sligo 22 Navan 26, Hamilton Park

Midleton produced a very accomplished performance to see off Kanturk 30-9 in their first outing at Towns Park. Tries from Sean White, Aidan McCarthy, Luke Morrissey and Paul Daly ensured a five-point return and a winning league debut for their new head coach John O’Neill, the former Munster winger.

Kanturk, who lost 25-0 in the equivalent fixture last season, had a nine-point contribution from Conor Cremin (three penalties) on Saturday. His kicking rival, Daly, landed two conversions and two penalties for a 15-point personal haul.

The other four games in the division were all closely-fought affairs – there were four-point winning margins for both Seapoint and Navan, Boyne emerged as five-point winners over Bruff, and Rainey had six points to spare over newcomers Bangor in their provincial derby.

Full-back James Kelly’s 70th-minute conversion was the final score in a pulsating encounter between Seapoint and Tullamore at Kilbogget Park. The hosts came from 18-8 down, five minutes into the second half, to eventually prevail 22-18.

Seapoint’s match-winning run of 14 unanswered points included replacement Ben Dyer’s try from a five-metre lineout and a pushover effort that came when Tullamore were down to 14 men. 

Tullamore feel that this is one that got away from them, and they will rue a loss of discipline and collective composure, coupled with some bad luck, in the closing stages. On the plus side, full-back Sean McCabe was the pick of their five league debutants and former Connacht back Aidan Wynne had a big game at inside centre. The Co. Offaly club had three of last year’s Under-18 squad in their starting line-up and three more on the bench.

The first half had ended 13-8 in Tullamore’s favour, out-half Karl Dunne kicking two penalties and converting his own try. The home forwards’ direct style kept them in scoring range and some lovely interplay between half-backs Brian Gilligan and Dunne saw the latter cross for his 25th minute score.

Seapoint managed to reduce the arrears to five points, though, as they capitalised on Tullamore lock Leon Martin’s yellow card for a high tackle. Hooker Cian Cunningham burrowed over from the south Dubliners following a sustained bout of pressure.

Tullamore resumed on top, newcomer McCabe providing the assist for winger Dylan Kelso to run in try number three. However, the injury-enforced departure of tighthead prop Ger Molloy after 55 minutes hampered the home side and gave the momentum back to Seapoint. Those two costly tries followed, either side of Martin’s dismissal for his second sin-binning.

Tullamore host Sligo next time out, with the westerners determined to bounce back from Saturday’s 26-22 reversal to Navan at Hamilton Park. Colm O’Reilly fired over a 40-metre penalty to guide the Meath men to victory, completing his own 16-point tally. Simon Hogan (12 minutes) and Conor Ryan (53) were their two try scorers.

Meanwhile, Boyne began life under new head coach Graeme Eastwood with an very encouraging 24-19 win over a Bruff side that finished third in the table last season.

Number 8 and man-of-the-match Rory Hennessy crashed over for Boyne’s opening try in the fifth minute while Bruff’s Neilus Keogh was in the sin-bin. The visitors were quick to respond, working the ball at pace and a midfield break paved the way for Cillian Rea to go over.

David O’Grady’s conversion was the difference between the sides at half-time. They were 12-10 in front, with their second try coming against the run of play. From a turnover in the visitors’ 22, winger Mark Cosgrave sprinted clear for a well-taken individual score.

Bruff should have pushed further ahead but out-half O’Grady missed a very kickable penalty and it took some sterling defence from Boyne centres Ronan O’Brien and Brian Howell to prevent the Limerick club from scoring a third try.

Boyne’s attack really clicked either side of the interval, a terrific midfield run from out-half Niall Kerbey setting the wheels in motion for O’Brien to dot down. Then, in the 50th minute, some direct running from the backs and excellent hands from Howell released winger Kevin McCleery for the corner. Kerbey followed up with a textbook conversion from wide out for 17-12.

Bruff’s patience was rewarded when their forwards rumbled over in the 70th minute, with hooker John Hogan grounding the ball. O’Grady added the extras to put his side back in front, but Boyne showed their mettle to take the verdict late on. After Kerbey missed a penalty attempt, the Boyne backs conjured up a tremendous match-winning try, Eoghan Duffy and McCleery spearheading a break out of their own half and Howell supplying the finishing touches after great combination work with O’Brien.

Bangor had a losing bonus point to show for their efforts in a 24-18 loss to Rainey Old Boys at Upritchard Park. In the club’s first All-Ireland League match in 14 years, player-coach Jason Morgan was admittedly ‘happy to take the point’ after a strong finish from his charges.

With poor discipline seeing Rainey suffer three yellow cards, their 24-6 second half lead was cut to just six points by the final whistle. Late tries from Michael Weir and David Bradford, allied to Mark Widdowson’s crucial conversion from wide out on the right, salvaged the bonus point for Bangor.

Rainey, who were relegated last season, had two former Ulster players in their team – try scorer Ricky Andrew in the centre and Tim Barker in the second row.

Tries either side of half-time from Michael Wilson and George Fritz saw the visitors seize control. South African hooker Fritz went on to complete his brace and secure the bonus point in the 64th minute, although head coach John Andrews said his players’ discipline was ‘horrific’ at times.