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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Free-scoring UL Bohemians have opened up a five-point lead at the top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B, while Dolphin and UCC both claimed notable wins over Galwegians and Ballymena respectively.



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BALLYNAHINCH 18 SHANNON 12, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Chris Quinn, Davy Nicholson; Con: Justin Rea; Pens: Chris Quinn 2
Shannon: Tries: Riley Winter, Shane Mullally; Con: Ronan McKenna

HT: Ballynahinch 3 Shannon 5

Ballynahinch got back to winning ways with a two-try 18-12 dismissal of a durable Shannon side at Ballymacarn Park this afternoon.

A combination of strong running and crisp passing created a 13th minute overlap for Shannon’s former Australia Under-20 lock Riley Winter to score his first try since his move north.

The visitors’ unconverted effort had them leading 5-3 at the end of a first half full of attacking rugby. A lone penalty from Chris Quinn was all ‘Hinch could muster while playing with the wind.

The Co. Down outfit made amends with an almost immediate try when play resumed. Ulster recruit Angus Lloyd, making his second league start for ‘Hinch, showed a clean pair of heels to the Shannon defence and set up left winger Quinn to make it 8-5.

Quinn knocked over his second successful penalty in the 57th minute, punishing a Tony Cusack infringement, and the gap was out to 13 points after centre Davy Nicholson used turnover ball to barge over out wide for a seven-pointer.

But Shannon were very quick to respond. Barely a minute later, a brilliantly executed chip and chase saw winger Shane Mullally cross the whitewash and Ronan McKenna convert. Try as they might, Marcus Horan’s charges could not get any closer and ‘Hinch duly pocketed their second win of the campaign.

BALLYNAHINCH: Steve Macauley; Aaron Cairns, Davy Nicholson, Jordan Grattan, Chris Quinn; Ross Carlisle, Angus Lloyd; Jonny Blair, Andrew Harper, Craig Trenier, James Simpson (capt), John Donnan, Lorcan Dow, Conor Joyce, Gareth Gill.

Replacements: Chris Stevenson, Joe Roe, Keith Dickson, Stuart Morrow, Johnny McPhilips.

SHANNON: Ronan McKenna; Nathan Randles, Will Leonard, Robert Deegan, Shane Mullally; Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Ty Chan, Tony Cusack, Barrie Duggan, Riley Winter, Brian Downey, John Foley, Lee Nicholas (capt).

Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Dylan Murphy, James Vaughan, Sean Markham, Jack O’Donnell.

DOLPHIN 27 GALWEGIANS 18, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: Dave O’Mahony, Karl Keogh; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 5
Galwegians: Tries: Alan McMahon, Adam Leavy; Con: Mitch Lam; Pens: Mitch Lam 2

HT: Dolphin 9 Galwegians 15

League veteran Barry Keeshan drove Dolphin to their maiden win of the season as they saw off Galwegians’ challenge on a 27-18 scoreline in Cork.

Keeshan smacked over five sure-footed penalties and a single conversion for a 17-point personal tally, with David Corkery’s men also crossing for two tries through forwards Dave O’Mahony and Karl Keogh.

Dolphin’s starting line-up was bolstered by the half-back pairing of assistant coach Keeshan and Killian O’Keeffe and the presence of Munster Academy prop Brian Scott and development lock John Madigan up front.

Galwegians were missing the skill and direction of captain Brian Murphy behind the scrum, but welcomed back Ja Naughton at loosehead prop and Connacht Academy back rower Marc Kelly at number 8.

With the wind behind him, Keeshan kicked the Corkmen into a 9-0 lead by the start of the second quarter, his 40-metre opener being followed by two more kicks in the 14th and 21st minutes.

However, almost straight from the restart, Galwegians’ Alan McMahon cut through for an opportunist try in the left corner. An equally eye-catching score from fellow winger Adam Leavy, converted by Mitch Lam who also tagged on a penalty, had the westerners leading 15-9 at half-time.

While the ‘Wegians back-line continued to threaten, the Dolphin pack was performing really well and they were rewarded with a try from lock O’Mahony, quickly followed by a Lam penalty at the other end.

But 18-14 is as good as it got for the inconsistent westerners as Dolphin broke their winning duck with a run of 13 unanswered points in the final quarter. After Lam missed a penalty, solid flanker Keogh struck for Dolphin’s second touchdown.

Keeshan converted and stamped his authority on the closing stages with two more penalties, the second of them just before the final whistle. That took the losing bonus point from ‘Wegians whose loose play was ruthlessly punished by the hosts. Dolphin have now moved above Shannon at the foot of the table. 

DOLPHIN: Cillian Monahan; Timmy Phelan, Cian McGovern, Sam Kennedy, Will Hanly; Barry Keeshan, Killian O’Keeffe; James Rochford, Liam Walsh, Brian Scott, Dave O’Mahony, John Madigan, Kevin O’Leary, Kevin Allen, Ryan Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Caolan O’Flynn, Ken O’Halloran, Barry Fitzgerald, Karl Keogh, Daryl Foley.

GALWEGIANS: Aidan Moynihan; Adam Leavy, Cormac Brennan, Dave Clarke, Alan McMahon; Mitch Lam, Barry Lee; Ja Naughton, Jack Dinneen, Conan O’Donnell, Matt Towey, Anthony Ryan, Ronan Moore, Josh Pim, Marc Kelly.

Replacements: Dave O’Connor, John Moloney, Eoghan Hannon, Conor Lowndes, Gearoid Armstrong.

NAAS 16 BUCCANEERS 24, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Try: Fionn Carr; Con: Peter Osborne; Pens: Peter Osborne 3
Buccaneers: Tries: Conor McKeon, Rory Moloney, Jordan Conroy, Eoghan O’Reilly; Cons: Conor McKeon 2

HT: Naas 10 Buccaneers 12

Buccaneers climbed into second place in the standings after a late flurry of points saw them overhaul hosts Naas 24-16 at Forenaughts.

Buccs outscored the Kildare men by four tries to one, bagging their second successive bonus point thanks to scores from Conor McKeon, who also kicked two conversions, Rory Moloney, Jordan Conroy and Eoghan O’Reilly.

Former Connacht team-mates Fionn Carr and Danie Poolman opposed each other at full-back, Carr covering for the injured Fionn Higgins and Poolman marshalling the Pirates’ back-line that he previously coached.

The visitors built a 12-0 lead by the 18th minute, young Connacht half-back McKeon shining in their purposeful start. Carr’s second try in three games opened Naas’ account in the 20th minute and a precise Peter Osborne penalty had them just 12-10 behind at the break.

When the second half got underway, scrum half Osborne gave Johne Murphy’s men a further boost with two penalties in quick succession to hand them a sudden four-point advantage.

That is how it stayed until Brett Wilkinson’s side stunned Naas with two late tries, including a tremendous third of the campaign for flying winger Conroy, who was part of the extended Ireland Sevens squad earlier this year.

NAAS: Fionn Carr; Rob O’Connor, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Andrew Shanahan; Michael Skelton, Peter Osborne; Dan O’Byrne, Charlie Kings, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Eoin Walsh, Will O’Brien (capt), Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Conor Johnson, Shane Reilly, Andrew Kearney, Warren Larkin, Max Whittingham.

BUCCANEERS: Danie Poolman; Jordan Conroy, Shane Layden, Mata Fifita, Rory O’Connor; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Dylan Quinn, Cian Romaine, Daniel Qualter, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Rory Grenham, Ruairi Byrne, Graham Lynch, Eoghan O’Reilly.

UCC 18 BALLYMENA 17, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Chris McAuliffe, James Kiernan; Con: Kevin O’Keeffe; Pens: Kevin O’Keeffe 2
Ballymena: Tries: Mark Best, Martin Irwin, Connor Smyth; Con: Mark Best

HT: UCC 10 Ballymena 17

Kevin O’Keeffe’s coolly-struck penalty steered UCC to a gripping 18-17 win over high-flying Ballymena at the Mardyke.

The Cork students’ first triumph since their promotion from Division 1B saw them erase a 14-point deficit with a superb final 50 minutes’ play.

Former Ireland international Bryan Young, who is part of Ballymena’s coaching team, slotted in at loosehead prop for this trip down to Cork, starting alongside Ireland Under-20 hooker Adam McBurney and Chris Cundell.

The Braidmen looked in very good fettle when crossing for three tries during the opening half hour, blindside Connor Smyth joining string-pulling centres Mark Best and Martin Irwin on the scoresheet. Best, who added one conversion, took his season’s tally to 32 points in three league outings.

However, when previewing this round 3 fixture, Ballymena boss Andy Graham anticipated a ‘difficult game’ from ‘tricky opposition’ and that is exactly what his players got.

A try in the corner from full-back Chris McAuliffe, on the stroke of half-time, got UCC back in the hunt at 17-10 down. The lively home backs then unlocked the Ballymena defence for a second try in the third quarter, with replacement James Kiernan darting over out wide for a terrific score from 40 metres out.

The difficult conversion proved beyond goal-kicker O’Keeffe but, handed another opportunity by the tireless UCC pack, he brilliantly converted a closing penalty to see his side battle past one of the division’s main promotion contenders.

UCC: Chris McAuliffe; Kevin O’Keeffe, Kevin Slater (capt), Murray Linn, Cillian Ansbro; Charlie O’Regan, Richard Walsh; Peter McCabe, Ben Burns, Rob O’Donovan, Ben Mitchell, Darragh Moloney, Conor Barry, Graham Smith, Richard Moran.

Replacements: Charlie Slowey, Emmet McCarthy, David Lynch, James Kiernan, Tim Cronin.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Jordan Foster, Mark Best, Martin Irwin, Jonny Rosborough; Glenn Baillie, David Shanahan; Bryan Young, Adam McBurney, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Tony McGuinness.

Replacements: Chris Allen, James Taggart, Mark Foster, John Creighton, Richie McMaster.

UL BOHEMIANS 29 OLD WESLEY 21, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Joe Murray, Jamie McNamara, Rick McKenna 2; Cons: Rick McKenna 3; Pen: Robbie Bourke
Old Wesley: Tries: Ger Finucane, Barry McLaughlin; Con: Barry McLaughlin; Pens: Barry McLaughlin 3

HT: UL Bohemians 19 Old Wesley 7

The Red Robins are continuing to soar in the league’s second tier, emerging with a well-merited 29-21 bonus point victory over Old Wesley on UL’s North Campus.

UL Bohemians have stolen a march on their promotion rivals with three bonus point wins on the trot, the creativity and finishing skills in their back-line summed by the try-scoring exploits of Jamie McNamara (four tries so far) and Rick McKenna (three).

McNamara and McKenna both touched down in the final two minutes of the first half to give Christy Neilan’s charges a 19-7 buffer. Wesley centre Ger Finucane had opened the scoring, profiting from Barry McLaughlin’s brilliant break from his own 22.

Bohs full-back Joe Murray quickly responded, scoring by the posts from a fine sidestepping run, and poor discipline from Wesley saw them lose back rowers Darren Horan, who was guilty of a slap down near his try-line, and Mark Rowley to the sin-bin.

Despite some dogged defending from the Dubliners, winger McNamara eventually made the pressure count for UL with a try in the corner. A tap penalty then caught Wesley napping and out-half McKenna’s clever run took him over for try number three.

The excitement levels dropped in the third quarter at the end of which two penalties from McLaughlin had closed the gap to 19-13. But Bohs had the bonus point in the bag in the 67th minute, former Munster scrum half Cathal Sheridan reacting quickest with another tap and feed for his half-back partner McKenna to go over.

UL were not certain of the win, though, until a 79th minute penalty from replacement Robbie Bourke. Wesley fought back with eight more points from busy winger McLaughlin, including a 68th minute try, before Bourke’s boot took what would have been a deserved losing bonus point away from the visitors.

UL BOHEMIANS: Joe Murray; Jamie McNamara, Finbar Aherne, Harry Fleming, Cian Aherne; Rick McKenna, Cathal Sheridan; Joey Conway, Joe Bennett, Peter King, Ed Kelly, Noel Kinane, James Ryan, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Philip Poillot, David Rowsome, Pat Staff, Daragh Frawley, Robbie Bourke.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Alan Jeffares; Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs; Ken Knaggs, Craig Telford, David Henshaw, Josh Hinde, Michael Dunleavy, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.

Replacements: Conor Maguire, James Burton, Donnchadh Phelan, Greg Hawe, Conor Fitzgibbon.