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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Doughty Dolphin picked up their second Division 1B victory on the bounce by seeing off the challenge of Cork rivals UCC on a 25-15 scoreline last night.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE: RESULTS ROUND-UP

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE TABLES

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UCC 15 DOLPHIN 25, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Murray Linn, Ben Mitchell; Con: Kevin O’Keeffe; Pen: Kevin O’Keeffe
Dolphin: Tries: Brian Scott, John Fitzgerald 2; Cons: Cillian Monahan 2; Pens: Cillian Monahan 2

HT: UCC 10 Dolphin 19

The Mardyke floodlights failed for a 20-minute spell before the break, but David Corkery’s men were fully switched on for this derby tussle as first half tries from Munster prop Brian Scott and skipper John Fitzgerald (2) saw them recover strongly from a 10-0 deficit.

UCC showed the form which saw they defeat Ballynahinch away in the last round, an excellent penalty from Kevin O’Keeffe giving them a 16th minute lead.

The student side pushed on with a very well-worked try from centre Murray Linn whose powerful midfield charge, which left two Dolphin defenders flailing, came from clean lineout ball won by Darragh Moloney and a good set-up from half-backs Charlie O’Regan and Tom Kiersey.

That converted score seemed to wake Dolphin up, their pack really taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Four minutes after Linn’s try, tighthead Scott crossed at the other end for Cillian Monahan to convert.

Confident that their forwards could deliver again, the visitors turned down a kickable penalty and pressed from a close-in maul, the backs also getting involved as flanker Fitzgerald powered over.

Monahan’s successful conversion and another maul try from Fitzgerald came either side of the blackout, the half coming to a close with Dolphin 19-10 to the good.

Out-half Monahan needed to be accurate with two more penalties in the second half to seal the result. UCC sandwiched in a nicely taken try from Ben Mitchell in the 57th minute, O’Regan’s inviting short pass seeing the big lock burst in between two would-be tacklers to go over under the posts. However, the conversion was charged down and Monahan duly completed his 10-point haul to give the derby spoils to the visitors.

UCC: Chris McAuliffe; Kevin O’Keeffe, Kevin Slater (capt), Murray Linn, Rory Slater; Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan; Peter McCabe, Ben Burns, Rob O’Donovan, Darragh Moloney, Ben Mitchell, Conor Barry, Cathal Gallagher, Richie Moran.

Replacements: Charlie Slowey, Shane O’Hanlon, Graham Smith, Richard Walsh, Darragh Dennehy.

DOLPHIN: Timmy Phelan; Gerry Ryan, Cian McGovern, Sam Kennedy, Will Hanly; Cillian Monahan, Killian O’Keeffe; James Rochford, Liam Walsh, Brian Scott, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahoney, John Fitzgerald (capt), Kevin Allen, Ryan Murphy.

Replacements: John Leahy, David Byrne, Lar Coughlan, Karl Keogh, Anthony Mason, Daryl Foley, Ian O’Donoghue.

NAAS 13 UL BOHEMIANS 10, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Fionn Carr, Rob O’Connor; Drop: Johne Murphy
UL Bohemians: Try: Finbar Aherne; Con: Rick McKenna; Pen: Rick McKenna

HT: Naas 5 UL Bohemians 10

Former Division 1B leaders UL Bohemians suffered their second defeat in three games as Naas player-coach Johne Murphy emerged as his side’s hero at Forenaughts.

Murphy, playing at outside centre, planted the decisive drop goal through the posts in the 78th minute, keeping the fifth-placed Kildare men within reach of the leading clubs.

UL did make a flying start, Finbar Aherne crossing in the second minute for his fifth try of the campaign, converted by his centre partner Rick McKenna who also landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Naas were 10-5 behind at the break, their first half highlight being an unconverted 35th minute effort from winger Fionn Carr who will miss Naas’ trip to Old Wesley next weekend as he is away with the Ireland Men’s Sevens squad in Dubai.

Notably, Bohemians were held scoreless over the closing 40 minutes, quite a feat considering they are the third top scorers in the division. Left winger Rob O’Connor crept through for a 43rd minute try for Naas, the conversion going off target at 10-all.

Defences were on top for much of the remainder, both sides showing a lack of composure in attacking situations. A draw looked increasingly likely until Murphy took on the mantle of match winner for the hosts.

NAAS: Peter Osborne; Fionn Carr, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Rob O’Connor; Ben Swindlehurst, David Barron; Jordan Duggan, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Andrew Kearney, Will O’Brien (capt), Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Conor Johnson, Jason Harney, Eoin Walsh, Michael Skelton, Andrew Shanahan.

UL BOHEMIANS: Joe Murray; Jamie McNamara, Finbar Aherne, Rick McKenna, Cian Aherne; Robbie Bourke, James Lennon; Joe Conway, David Rowsome, Mike Lynch, Ed Kelly, Daragh Frawley, Noel Kinane, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Philip Poillot, Peter King, Pat Staff, Harry Fleming, Colin Ryan.

BALLYNAHINCH 18 BALLYMENA 28, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Davy Nicholson, Penalty try; Con: Chris Quinn; Pens: Chris Quinn 2
Ballymena: Tries: Stephen Mulholland, James Beattie, Jordan Foster; Cons: Ritchie McMaster 2; Pens: Ritchie McMaster 3

HT: Ballynahinch 11 Ballymena 20

Ballynahinch are now five points behind Naas in the league table after losing this end-to-end Ulster derby to Ballymena at Ballymacarn Park.

Injuries and player unavailability hampered ‘Hinch as they went down 28-18 to the Braidmen just a week on from reaching another Ulster Senior Cup final.

In what was a very entertaining tussle, Ballymena seemed to have the stronger line-up and they established early control of the scoreboard with a converted try from industrious number 8 Stephen Mulholland.

Chris Quinn and the fit-again Ritchie McMaster swapped penalties and they did likewise in the second quarter, after Ballymena winger James Beattie had broken through for a try.

‘Hinch, who were also beaten at home by UCC in the last round, responded as half-time approached, scrum half Chris Gibson breaking from the back of the set piece and setting up winger Davy Nicholson for a try out wide.

20-11 at the interval turned into 25-11 when Jordan Foster joined his wing colleague Beattie on the scoresheet. But Andy Graham’s men had to ride out a tricky period, yellow cards for McMaster and hooker John Andrew putting them under serious pressure with ‘Hinch forcing a penalty try, converted by Quinn.

The margin now down to 25-18, McMaster returned from his spell off for a high tackle and slotted over what proved to be the match-winning penalty in the 66th minute. There was no quarter asked or given in a bruising climax, but Ballymena held on to take home four valuable points and give themselves a boost ahead of next week’s visit of table toppers Buccaneers.

BALLYNAHINCH: Chris Quinn; Davy Nicholson, Sam Windsor, Stuart Morrow, Chris Orr; Johnny McPhillips, Chris Gibson; Jonny Simpson, Jonny Murphy, Craig Trenier, Michael Graham (capt), James Simpson, Conor Joyce, Callum Irvine, Gareth Gill.

Replacements: Jonny Blair, Andrew Harper, Conor Phillips, James McBriar, Jordan Grattan.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Jordan Foster, Callum Patterson, Mark Best, James Beattie; Ritchie McMaster, Dave Shanahan; Adrian Kirkpatrick, John Andrew, Chris Cundell, Kieran Treadwell, David Whann (capt), Connor Smyth, Tony McGuinness, Stephen Mulholland.

Replacements: Bryan Young, Adam McBurney, Mark Foster, Glenn Baillie, John Creighton.

SHANNON 24 OLD WESLEY 24, Coonagh
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Ronan McKenna, Ty Chan, Lee Nicholas, Shane Mullally; Cons: Ronan McKenna 2
Old Wesley: Tries: James Burton, Barry McLaughlin, Paul Harte; Cons: Barry McLaughlin 3; Pen: Barry McLaughlin

HT: Shannon 5 Old Wesley 14

There were mixed emotions for both Shannon and Old Wesley at the end of an enthralling 24-all draw played in bitterly cold conditions at Coonagh.

A three-try second half had Shannon on the verge of a superb comeback victory, but Wesley winger Barry McLaughlin – now with 103 points to his name already this season – landed the levelling penalty in the 59th minute.

A seventh defeat of the campaign was on the cards for Marcus Horan’s charges when they trailed 14-5 at half-time, the visitors quickly hitting their stride with a third-minute maul try from tighthead James Burton, converted by McLaughlin.

Shannon delighted the home support with a try of their own five minutes later, the forwards pressed from a lineout on the right before possession was swept across to the opposite wing where full-back Ronan McKenna finished off some crisp passing.

McKenna could not convert and Wesley caught Shannon out with Tim Clifford’s cross-field kick for McLaughlin to touch down in the 18th minute. With a penalty won, the out-half’s quick thinking paved the way for a second seven-pointer.

Although nine points down, there were promising signs for Shannon with a couple of scrum penalties won, scrum half Keith Kavanagh breaking downfield from a lineout and number 8 John Foley also carrying strongly.

A yellow card for prop David Henshaw before the interval left Wesley with 14 men, and further indiscipline was punished in the second half as both Clifford and McLaughlin were sin-binned.

Shannon had a second unconverted effort just two minutes in, a well-constructed maul seeing hooker Ty Chan get over. Replacement winger Paul Harte hit back for Wesley, winning the race to his own kick through for a third converted score – 21-10.

Clifford’s 51st-minute yellow card for a high tackle preceded another strong spell from the Shannon pack which again contained veteran lock Tom Hayes. Their maul teed up a converted try for flanker and captain Lee Nicholas.

Barely three minutes later, a stunning break from Shane Mullally saw Shannon hit the front at 24-21 and secure their bonus point. With the action swinging quickly to opposite ends of the pitch, Wesley were level by the hour mark thanks to a McLaughlin kick from in front of the posts.

The final quarter was a tense and tight affair, McKenna missing a penalty but Greg O’Shea and Luke O’Dea carrying more of a threat with ball in hand. Following McLaughlin’s binning, crossing denied Shannon a try and the same offence prevented Wesley from breaking through soon after.

Shannon lost replacement Will Leonard to the bin in the stop-start closing stages, a stalemate ensuing as McKenna missed a very difficult late penalty for the win.

SHANNON: Ronan McKenna; Greg O’Shea, Luke O’Dea, Jack O’Donnell, Shane Mullally; Conor Fitzgerald, Keith Kavanagh; Tony Cusack, Ty Chan, John Andress, Riley Winter, Tom Hayes, Lee Nicholas (capt), Niall Mulcahy, John Foley.

Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Conor Glynn, Brian Downey, Jack Stafford, Will Leonard.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane, Alan Jeffares; Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs; David Henshaw, Conor Maguire, James Burton, Michael Dunleavy, Josh Hinde, Darren Horan (capt), Jonathan O’Sullivan, Mark Rowley.

Replacements: Craig Telford, Martin Gately, Stephen Boyle, Alan Large, Paul Harte.