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Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2B Review

Five points remains the gap at the top of Division 2B following unbeaten leaders Armagh’s 71-10 thrashing of a gallant Thomond team. Lowly City of Derry were also the victims of a very heavy defeat, going down 59-0 at Old Crescent.



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Armagh 71 Thomond 10, Palace Grounds
Dungannon 10 Bective Rangers 10, Stevenson Park
MU Barnhall 20 Wanderers 15, Parsonstown
Old Crescent 59 City of Derry 0, Rosbrien
Skerries 11 Greystones 36, Holmpatrick (played on Friday)

Armagh tallied up 11 tries and showed no mercy to a Thomond side that had beaten Skerries last week. The Limerick men have struggled on their travels this season, conceding some big scores to Wanderers, MU Barnhall and now Armagh.

Full-back Tim McNeice crossed in the second minute to open the scoring at the Palace Grounds, with 18-year-old debutant Cormac Fox converting. The table toppers were 31-3 ahead by half-time, Thomond’s Dermot Fitzgerald kicking a lone penalty amid further Armagh tries from John Faloon, Andrew Willis (2), including a 70-metre intercept effort, and young out-half Fox.

Number 8 Neil Faloon, who was instrumental in the build-up to a number of scores, provided the assist for scrum half Harry Doyle’s early second half try, and hooker Andrew Smyth sprung from the back of a lineout maul to make it 45-3 with half an hour remaining.

Armagh crossed the half-century mark for the second time in four games as centres Chris Colvin and John Faloon both scored in quick succession, and a scrum won against the head allowed Neil Faloon to break through for a well-deserved try.

With man-of-the-match Fox, who amassed 19 points, having a fine day with the boot, Alex McCloy’s men were 64-3 in front before Fintan Cross nabbed a consolation try for Thomond following a brilliant run through midfield from scrum half Aaron Rice. Kyle Faloon’s introduction at out-half meant there were three Faloon brothers on the pitch for the end of the match, by which time McNeice had completed his brace of tries.

Armagh’s next league opponents in two weeks’ time, second-placed Greystones, kept in touch with the Ulstermen courtesy of a 36-11 bonus point victory at Skerries. Speedy winger Jack Keating started and finished the try-scoring for ‘Stones with efforts after 11 and 75 minutes, while Killian Marmion, Padraig Geoghegan and Ferdia Kenny also dotted down for the visitors.

Skerries, who have fallen to eighth in the standings, started this Friday Night Lights clash in encouraging fashion, a wind-backed Paul O’Loghlen landing two penalties before the heavier Greystones pack gradually got the grips with proceedings. Tries from Keating and Marmion made it 12-6 for half-time.

Geoghegan and Skerries hooker Chris Tonge, a regular scorer this season, swapped tries in the third quarter for a 19-11 scoreline, but the attritional nature of the game took its toll on the home side, allowing ‘Stones to break clear on the scoreboard. Kenny showed blistering pace to score on the hour mark, Andrew Kealy converted and added a penalty before Keating nipped over in the left corner late on.

Meanwhile, captain Gearoid O’Grady grabbed a share of the spoils for Bective Rangers away to Dungannon. O’Grady’s penalty goal was the final score of a closely-fought contest that ended in a 10-all draw at Stevenson Park.

Dungannon should have kicked on after winning a second half penalty try for a collapsed maul, with Bective losing one of their second rows to the sin-bin at 10-7 down. However, Rangers, who are just four points behind fourth-placed ‘Gannon in the table, dug their heels in and O’Grady lofted over the levelling kick.

A converted try from Bective winger Finbar Ryan had cancelled out Tianua Poto’s initial penalty, giving them a 7-3 interval advantage, and the David Murphy-coached Dubliners showed their battling qualities to pick up two hard-earned points on the road and, in the process, extend their unbeaten run to three matches.

Having lost to Armagh last time out, Old Crescent bounced back with a resounding 59-0 bonus point hammering of bottom side City of Derry at Rosbrien. They bagged eight converted tries, including doubles from lynchpin backs Larry Hanly and Brian Tuohy and last season’s Division 2C Player of the Year Brendan Guilfoyle.

Former Shannon out-half Gareth Quinn McDonogh and Val McDermott also crossed the visitors’ whitewash, with Barry Neville notching 15 points off the tee (a penalty and six conversions) and Shane O’Brien kicking two conversions.

Captain Simon Gillespie led by example in MU Barnhall’s hard-fought 20-15 defeat of Leinster rivals Wanderers. He kicked two closing penalties (61 and 75 minutes) to settle the issue at Parsonstown, topping up his tally to 10 points after converting first half tries from Dave Stewart and Michael Russell.

Wanderers’ two tries were scored by Eoin O’Shaughnessy, who struck from a 20th minute-rolling maul, and Garret O Suilleabhain – in the same right corner – early in the second period. The frustrating loss ended the Dublin 4 outfit’s three-game winning streak, with second-placed Greystones now seven points ahead of them.