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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Four points cover the top six clubs in Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League, with Armagh, Greystones and Dungannon the only teams to register two wins on the bounce.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: Saturday, September 24


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Armagh 18 City of Derry 6, Palace Grounds
Greystones 25 Wanderers 16, Dr. Hickey Park
MU Barnhall 16 Old Crescent 16, Parsonstown
Skerries 13 Dungannon 24, Holmpatrick
Thomond 10 Bective Rangers 49, Liam Fitzgerald Park

Armagh’s first home league game saw them entertain Ulster rivals City of Derry, and a wind-backed first half set them on their way to a deserved 18-6 victory.

In truth, Alex McCloy’s men should have been further in front at half-time than 13-0. A seventh minute try from Neil Faloon, the 2015 Division 2B Player of the Year, was converted by out-half Harvey Young who added two penalties after 18 and 26 minutes amid a heavy rain shower.

Derry failed to capitalise on a couple of threatening breaks from Matthew Gilmore, although Neil Burns landed a 44th minute penalty to get them on the scoreboard. Armagh swiftly answered back, replacement winger Ryan Purvis putting the finishing touches to a superb back-line move that including eye-catching runs from both Young and centre Chris Colvin.

From then on, it was actually Derry who seized control of the game. A second penalty from Burns closed the gap to 12 points ahead of the final quarter, but he missed his next kick five minutes later and Armagh’s well-drilled defence – minus the sin-binned John Faloon – thwarted the visitors’ determined attempts to cross the whitewash late on.

Bective Rangers opened their win account in style down in Limerick, completing a 49-10 demolition job of bottom side Thomond who have conceded 103 points in the first two rounds.

Dean O’Brien and Dermot Fitzgerald touched down in either half for Thomond, but Bective led 17-5 at half-time and ended a one-sided second half with seven converted tries as they bounced back from last week’s home loss to Armagh.

Greystones made it two wins out of win by overcoming Leinster rivals Wanderers on a 25-16 scoreline at Dr. Hickey Park. Jack Keating’s very well-finished try in the corner, converted with great aplomb by the fit-again Andrew Kealy, had ‘Stones out of reach in the final quarter.

Wanderers were 15-3 behind at the break after playing into the wind, but a Cian Doddy seven-pointer – coupled with Peter Brougham’s second and third penalties of the encounter – had them right back in the hunt at 18-16 down. That was until former Leinster underage winger Keating struck, out wide, with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Old Crescent fought back from a 13-point first half deficit to earn a share of the spoils with MU Barnhall at Parsonstown. Cathal O’Reilly’s unconverted 78th-minute try saw Crescent draw level at 16-all as Eugene McGovern’s charges picked up their first points of the campaign.

The wet conditions seemed to be to Barnhall’s liking as they crossed in the seventh minute through Darren Hudson, and Simon Gillespie booted two penalties by the half hour mark. Promising young winger Val McDermott, a league debutant just last week, replied with Crescent’s opening try which went unconverted.

The gap remained at eight points (16-8) after penalties from Shane O’Brien (52 minutes) and Gillespie (55), before Crescent produced the stronger finish with a 70th minute penalty from O’Brien and that levelling touchdown from hooker O’Reilly, who captained the Limerick club to the Division 2C title last term.

Meanwhile, Dungannon continued their winning start to the season with a 24-13 triumph away to Skerries. The very wet conditions did not deter from what was an absorbing clash on the north County Dublin coastline.

Despite playing into the wind, Dungannon managed to turn around with a 10-6 advantage at the break, inspired by a terrific James McMahon try midway through the first half. A late penalty from David Quirke, adding to a fifth minute effort from Billy Mulcahy, had Skerries within striking distance.

‘Gannon’s experienced centre Seamus Mallon picked off an intercept and dashed clear for a cracking 55th minute score, converted by new number 10 Tianua Poto. The visitors had to wait for their third try, though, after man-of-the-match McMahon was denied by a refereeing decision.

However, Skerries came back into it after ‘Gannon winger Andrew Mills was yellow carded. The Goats, now coached by Skerries native Mark Harrington, narrowed the gap to 17-13 when Conor Lennox’s excellent offload played in Ruairi Woods for a timely try.

Restored to their full complement, the Tyrone men duly made sure of the points, though, as Jonny Toal cut in off his right wing to notch try number three, with Poto’s successful conversion completing his nine-point tally.