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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

UCC boosted their survival hopes in Division 1B with a hard-earned 19-9 derby win over Dolphin at Irish Independent Park last night.



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DOLPHIN 9 UCC 19, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Pens: Barry Keeshan 3
UCC: Try: Conor Barry; Con: Kevin O’Keeffe; Pens: Kevin O’Keeffe 4

HT: Dolphin 3 UCC 13

Goal-kicking winger Kevin O’Keeffe was UCC’s hero with a crucial 14-point contribution off the tee, taking his haul for the league campaign to 96 points after 11 rounds.

The nerves were obvious with both teams struggling for form at the wrong end of the table, however a more cohesive first half display from UCC helped them to end their three-match losing run and rise to seventh in the standings.

O’Keeffe was right in the thick of the action early on, swapping penalties with Dolphin veteran Barry Keeshan before he was bundled into touch as the hosts avoided the concession of an eighth minute try.

UCC’s pace was troubling the division’s bottom side and Dolphin were left trailing 13-3 at half-time, O’Keeffe converting a terrific solo try from flanker Conor Barry – his fifth of the season – and adding another penalty just before the interval.

Blindside Barry, who missed last week’s home defeat to UL Bohemians, was back with a bang, shrugging off three would-be tacklers to score by the posts and give his side a serious lift.

Try-scoring opportunities were few and far between in a tightly-contested second period. The Cork rivals were content to live off penalty opportunities, out-half Keeshan drawing Dolphin closer with a 49th minute success.

Having missed a 53rd minute penalty, O’Keeffe was back on target entering the final quarter and the 10-point margin remained after Dolphin full-back Cillian Monahan kicked wide a couple of minutes later.

Keeshan split the posts again to set up a grandstand finish at 16-9 down, however in their efforts to get back level, David Corkery’s charges leaked a costly penalty which took away their losing bonus point. O’Keeffe knocked it over with the last kick of a keenly-contested game.

DOLPHIN: Cillian Monahan; Timmy Phelan, Cian McGovern, Kevin Allen, Gerry Ryan; Barry Keeshan, Killian O’Keeffe; Liam Walsh, David Byrne, James Rochford, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahony, Barry Fitzgerald, Ryan Murphy, John Fitzgerald (capt)

Replacements: Cian Scott, John Leahy, Karl Keogh, Daryl Foley, Will Hanly.

UCC: Chris McAuliffe; Kevin O’Keeffe, Kevin Slater (capt), Paul Kiernan, James Kiernan; Tom Kiersey, Richard Walsh; Shane O’Hanlon, Emmet McCarthy, Rob O’Donovan, Ben Mitchell, Darragh Moloney, Conor Barry, Cathal Gallagher, Paul Derham.

Replacements: Charlie Slowey, Ciaran McHugh, Eddie Earle, Charlie O’Regan, Murray Linn.

Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Morgan Codyre, Aidan Moynihan; Cons: Aidan Moynihan 2
Buccaneers: Tries: John Sutton, Jordan Conroy 2, Alan Gaughan; Con: Alan Gaughan; Pen: Alan Gaughan

HT: Galwegians 14 Buccaneers 15

Jordan Conroy crossed for his ninth and tenth tries of the campaign as Buccaneers strengthened their grip on top spot in Division 1B with a 25-14 derby victory at Galwegians.

Despite showing huge commitment throughout and benefiting from a barnstorming two-try start, ‘Wegians were held scoreless in the second half and eventually fell to their second successive league defeat of 2017.

In damp underfoot conditions, Alan Gaughan’s penalty saw Buccs nip in front but a thrilling breakaway try in the 12th minute got the Galwegians attack firing. Full-back Morgan Codyre put the finishing touches to a move inspired by an Aidan Moynihan chip which was fielded by captain Brian Murphy.

Brian McClearn’s men ended the first quarter with a 14-3 lead after out-half Moynihan brilliantly stepped inside the Buccs cover to score and add his second successful conversion of the evening.

The Pirates rebounded in impressive fashion, Shane Layden carrying more of a threat in midfield before a muscular 20-metre maul from the Buccs pack set up hooker John Sutton for a 27th-minute converted try.

Flying winger and Ireland Sevens international Conroy then got in on the scoring act, gathering Gaughan’s pinpoint cross-field kick to dot down five minutes before the break. The conversion was missed but the league leaders were ahead by the minimum – 15-14.

Crucially, ‘Wegians had nothing to show for a strong spell early in the second period, their forwards being held up before a knock-on saw them cough up hard-earned territory. Moynihan was also wide with a penalty attempt.

Despite losing Layden to the sin-bin, Buccs got their own back with a breakaway try of their own, Gaughan crossing the whitewash out wide, and patient build-up play was rewarded in the 79th minute when Conroy completed his brace in the corner, securing the bonus point for Brett Wilkinson’s outfit and erasing ‘Wegians’ one in the process.

GALWEGIANS: Morgan Codyre; Matthew Byrne, Alan McMahon, Brian Murphy (capt), Ed O’Keeffe; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Dominic Robertson-McCoy, John Moloney, Jason East, Anthony Ryan, Marc Kelly, Paul Hackett, Josh Pim, Eoghan Masterson.

Replacements: Patrick Curran, Jack Dinneen, Eoin Tarmey, Conor Lowndes, Dave Clarke.

BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Eoghan O’Reilly, Shane O’Leary, Shane Layden, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Frankie Hopkins; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Saba Meunargia, Ruairi Byrne, Simon Meagher, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati (capt).

Replacements: Eoin Maher, Rory Grenham, Evan Galvin, Alex Hayman, Rory O’Connor.

Scorers: Ballymena: Tries: Penalty try, Glenn Baillie; Con: Mark Best
Ballynahinch: Tries: Penalty try, James Simpson, Jordan Grattan; Cons: Blane McIlroy 3; Pen: Blane McIlroy

HT: Ballymena 0 Ballynahinch 10

Ballynahinch outscored Ulster rivals Ballymena by three tries to two to finish as 24-12 winners of last night’s provincial derby at Eaton Park.

‘Hinch had lost by a similar scoreline when they hosted the Braidmen back in November, but 10 first half points without reply laid the foundations for their latest league victory.

Continuing where they left off against Dolphin, Derek Suffern’s side exerted the early pressure with flanker Lorcan Dow making an eye-catching break and scrum half Blane McIlroy, himself a former Ballymena player, landing a penalty.

In slippery and worsening conditions, fit-again ‘Hinch full-back Peter Nelson just missed out on his second try in as many games as he went close from a neat kick through from Jordan Grattan.

Ballymena fell further behind when a late tackle on young lock Donnan saw referee Mark Patton award a penalty try to the County Down outfit, with McIlroy supplying the extras for a 10-0 lead.

Ulster’s Brett Herron, who partnered John Creighton at half-back, could have given the Braidmen a boost just before half-time but he missed a straightforward penalty following a high tackle.

The sides scored two tries apiece in the second half but notably Ballymena were unable to recapture the form they showed during the closing 40 minutes of last week’s draw with table toppers Buccaneers.

They allowed ‘Hinch to move 24 points clear thanks to tries from vice-captain James Simpson and tricky centre Grattan, who offered a regular threat with ball in hand.

Simpson’s second row partner Donnan saw yellow for a high tackle, allowing the home side to force the issue with their robust scrum earning them a penalty try, converted by Mark Best.

Further scrum pressure led to a second ‘Hinch sin-binning – tighthead Andrew Weir was the guilty party – and as Ballymena pinned the visitors back during a dominant closing spell, replacement Glenn Baillie wrapped up the scoring with a late five-pointer.

‘Hinch’s encouraging early form in 2017 has lifted them up to third in the table, just ahead of Naas and Old Wesley, while sixth-placed Ballymena are now without a win in their last three league matches.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; James Beattie, Callum Patterson, Marty Irwin (capt), Mark Best; Brett Herron, John Creighton; Adrian Kirkpatrick, James Taggart, Chris Cundell, Connor Smyth, David Whann, Stephen Mulholland, Tony McGuinness Matthew Rea.

Replacements: James Carson, Andrew Cundell, Glenn Baillie, Ritchie McMaster, Jonny Rossborough.

BALLYNAHINCH: Peter Nelson; David Busby, Stuart Morrow, Jordan Grattan, Davy Nicholson; Ross Carlisle, Blane McIlroy; Chris Stevenson, Joe Roe, Andrew Weir, James Simpson, John Donnan, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow, Michael Graham (capt).

Replacements: Jonny Blair, Andrew Harper, Callum Irvine, Justin Rea, James McBriar.

OLD WESLEY 22 SHANNON 26, Donnybrook
Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Darren Horan, Matthew Bursey, Adam Griggs; Cons: Tim Clifford 2; Pen: Tim Clifford
Shannon: Tries: Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Riley Winter, Nathan Randles; Cons: Fionn McGibney 3

HT: Old Wesley 12 Shannon 12

New Shannon boss Tom Hayes seems to be getting the best out of his squad following a gutsy 26-22 bonus point success at Old Wesley.

The Parish club made it two wins on the bounce, their Australian lock Riley Winter being credited with a late pushover try that saw forwards and backs combine in a robust rolling maul which left Wesley floored.

In an entertaining first half on Donnybrook’s 4G surface, Shannon hit the front in the 14th minute when a clever lineout move saw hooker Jordan Prenderville take a return pass and get over in the corner for an unconverted try.

The visitors’ reliable lineout platform set up their second touchdown just five minutes later, prop Conor Glynn hitting a hard line to charge through a gap after the set piece ball had been moved in closer to the posts. Out-half Fionn McGibney converted for 12-0.

However, that seemed to spark the best out of Wesley and Ger Finucane’s quick tap paved the way for captain Darren Horan to go over out wide and reduce the arrears to seven points.

Strong counter attacking from David Poff and Alan Jeffares got the Dubliners into scoring range again in the 28th minute, a penalty setting up a lineout maul in the left corner and flanker Matthew Bursey peeled off the back to crash over. Tim Clifford added the extras and 12-all is how it stayed up to half-time.

A well-struck penalty from Clifford edged the hosts in front for the first time after 48 minutes. Soon after, young hooker Conor Maguire helped to win a scrum against the head and following a Mark Rowley break up the blindside, scrum half Adam Griggs crossed from close range to put 10 points between the sides.

Nevertheless, Shannon then created a real purple patch that had their scrum on the cusp of a penalty try. Griggs and Bursey combined to win a relieving penalty for Wesley, but their own indiscipline led to replacement Adam Kennedy seeing yellow for offside.

After a sustained bout of Shannon pressure, Luke O’Dea’s well-timed skip pass put fellow winger Nathan Randles over in the corner. A cracking conversion from McGibney set up a grandstand finish at 22-19 with little over 10 minutes remaining.

It was nip and tuck right until the end, with Shannon having almost all of the territory. Their captain Lee Nicholas was stopped just short and Wesley, having held firm at scrum time, ripped the ball back in a tackle only for Griggs to be bundled into touch. That gave Shannon a five-metre lineout and Winter was duly driven over.

McGibney’s neat conversion from the left wing completed the scoring as Shannon dug out a fine comeback victory which moves them above Galwegians and out of the bottom two. After such a frustrating finish, Wesley have fallen out of the top four.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Alan Jeffares, David Poff, Ger Finucane, Alan Large; Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs; David Henshaw, Conor Maguire, James Burton, Aaron Browne, Iain McGann, Darren Horan (capt), Matthew Bursey, Mark Rowley.

Replacements: Craig Telford, Martin Gately, Donnachadh Phelan, Paul Harte, Adam Kennedy.

SHANNON: Stephen Fitzgerald; Nathan Randles, Jack O’Donnell, Will Leonard, Luke O’Dea; Fionn McGibney, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Tony Cusack, Riley Winter, Ronan Coffey, Lee Nicholas (capt), Niall Mulcahy, Brian Downey.

Replacements: Ty Chan, Ryan Healy, James Vaughan, Keith Kavanagh, Ronan McKenna.

UL BOHEMIANS 24 NAAS 27, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Ian Condell, Finbar Aherne, Mike Lynch; Cons: James Lennon 3; Pen: James Lennon
Naas: Tries: Rob O’Connor, Peter Howard, Henry Bryce; Cons: Peter Osborne 3; Pens: Peter Osborne 2

HT: UL Bohemians 17 Naas 14

UL Bohemians fell the wrong side of a 27-24 scoreline as Naas underlined their promotion ambitions with a three-try salvo on the University of Limerick’s pacy 4G pitch.

The Kildare men, who beat Old Wesley in convincing fashion last week, had it all to do when UL jumped into an early 10-0 lead, scrum half James Lennon slotting a penalty through the posts and converting a well-worked try from captain Ian Condell.

A player who is only new to this level of rugby hit back with Naas’ opening try in the 13th minute. Young winger Peter Howard zoomed through to retrieve his own kick and dart in under the posts for Peter Osborne to convert.

The visitors then went through the phases, chipping away at the Bohs defence before Howard’s wing colleague Rob O’Connor made it over for try number two. However, Bohs edged into a 17-14 interval lead thanks to centre Finbar Aherne’s effort from a superb kick chase. Lennon added the touchline conversion for good measure.

This was a terrific contest and both teams were keen to run the ball, play with width and show the best of their attack. The nip and tuck action continued as scrum half Osborne kicked Nass level before big centre Henry Bryce picked up possession and spun away from a defender for a neatly-taken close range score.

Osborne’s accuracy with the boot rarely wavers and he converted and tagged on a 65th minute penalty to leave Bohs 27-17 adrift. After watching a penalty come back off a post, UL patiently worked their way back into the 22 and prop Mike Lynch crashed over for Lennon to convert.

It was all hands to the pump in a frantic final five minutes, but Bohs could not avoid their third loss of the campaign which leaves them six points behind table-topping Buccaneers. Naas are looking good in fourth position and will fancy their chances at home to bottom side Dolphin next week.

UL BOHEMIANS: Joe Murray; Jamie McNamara, Finbar Aherne, Rory White, Cian Aherne; Robbie Bourke, James Lennon; Philip Poillet, Philip Dowling, Mike Lynch, Noel Kinane, Ed Kelly, James Ryan, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Pauric Nesbitt, Joe Moloney, Craig Trimble, Colin Ryan, Rick McKenna.

NAAS: Michael Skelton; Peter Howard, Fionn Carr, Henry Bryce, Rob O’Connor; Ben Swindlehurst, Peter Osborne; Dan O’Beirn, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Eoin Walsh, Will O’Brien (capt), Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Warren Larkin, Adam Coyle, Andrew Kearney, Ben O’Connor, David Barron.