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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Despite the wintry conditions around the country, the teams in Division 1B had little difficulty in finding the try-line on Friday and Saturday with five home wins – four of them by way of a bonus point.



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Scorers: Ballymena: Try: Adam McBurney; Pens: Ritchie McMaster 3
Galwegians: Try: Ed O’Keeffe; Con: Morgan Codyre; Pens: Morgan Codyre, Ciaran Gaffney

HT: Ballymena 9 Galwegians 0

Galwegians failed to capitalise on the sin-binning of former Ireland international Bryan Young as Ballymena prevailed 14-13 in a tense finish at Eaton Park.

Veteran prop Young saw yellow for an illegal tackle midway through the final quarter, however ‘Wegians were unable to force a winning score and they had to be content with a losing bonus point.

Three well-struck penalties from Ritchie McMaster gave Ballymena the early advantage, the hosts using a strong wind to good effect as they looked to end their three-match winless run.

The visitors, whose pack was book-ended by Connacht’s Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Eoghan Masterson, dominated possession and territory in the second half despite the best efforts of Ulster’s Clive Ross. He was the pick of the back rowers on show and the obvious choice as man-of-the-match.

November’s meeting had gone right down to the wire with the Braidmen winning 35-34 out west, and young hooker Adam McBurney’s unconverted try from a rare breakout proved to be just enough this time around.

A neatly-finished seven-pointer by speedy left winger Ed O’Keeffe supplemented two earlier penalties from Morgan Codyre and recent Connacht debutant Ciaran Gaffney to set up a grandstand finish.

However, just when the Galway outfit seemed set to pinch the points from Ballymena’s grasp, their familiar failings from a frustrating 2016/17 campaign saw them miss out on a first victory in three rounds.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; James Beattie, Mark Best, Martin Irwin, Jonny Rossborough; Ritchie McMaster, Glenn Baillie; Bryan Young, Adam McBurney, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Clive Ross, Tony McGuinness, Adrian Hamilton.

Replacements: Andrew Cundell, Adrian Kirkpatrick, Russell Blair, John Creighton, Paddy James.

GALWEGIANS: Ciaran Gaffney; Matthew Byrne, Rory Parata, Brian Murphy (capt), Ed O’Keeffe; Morgan Codyre, Barry Lee; Dominic Robertston-McCoy, John Moloney, Conor Kyne, Eoin Tarmey, Peter Claffey, Marc Kelly, Josh Pim, Eoghan Masterson.

Replacements: Martin Fox, Paddy Curran, Matt Towey, Conor Lowndes, Aidan Moynihan.

UCC 39 BALLYNAHINCH 18, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Richard Walsh 2, Tom Kiersey 2, Paul Kiernan, James Kiernan; Cons: Kevin O’Keeffe 3; Pen: Kevin O’Keeffe
Ballynahinch: Tries: Joe Roe, Jordan Grattan; Con: Chris Quinn; Pens: Chris Quinn 2

HT: UCC 17 Ballynahinch 8

UCC’s six-try showing against Ballynahinch was arguably the performance of the weekend across the Ulster Bank League’s top two tiers.

Full-back Richard Walsh and out-half Tom Kiersey both bagged braces as the Cork students built further momentum following last week’s derby defeat of Dolphin.

The hosts hit the ground running on a dry, sunny afternoon at the Mardyke, their back-line running in three tries – including two from the strong-running Walsh – for a 17-8 interval lead.

Ballynahinch had their moments though, and they enjoyed a real purple patch with 10 points in as many second half minutes. Justin Rea closed the gap with a penalty and then centre Jordan Grattan picked up a loose ball to run in a converted try from 40 metres out.

Importantly, UCC were quick to respond with centre Paul Kiernan breaking through the middle for the bonus point score. Kevin O’Keeffe added a penalty for a 25-18 scoreline.

Poor defending from the Co. Down outfit allowed Kiersey clean through and in under the posts in the 65th minute, and winger James Kiernan was sent clear for try number six in the corner to wrap up a resounding home victory.

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

Replacements: Ciaran McHugh, Charlie Slowey, Eoin Feeney, Murray Linn, Chris McAuliffe.

BALLYNAHINCH: Chris Quinn; David Busby, Jordan Grattan, Justin Rea, Davy Nicholson; Ross Carlisle, Blane McIlroy; Chris Stevenson, Joe Roe, Andrew Weir, James Simpson, John Donnan, Conor Joyce, Callum Irvine, Michael Graham (capt).

Replacements: Jonny Blair, Ben Pentland, Gareth Gill, Ryan Wilson, Chris Orr.

Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Jordan Conroy 3, John Sutton, Callum Boland; Cons: Alan Gaughan 4; Pen: Alan Gaughan
Old Wesley: Tries: Darren Horan, Iain McGann; Cons: Tim Clifford 2

HT: Buccaneers 22 Old Wesley 7

Jordan Conroy helped himself to a hat-trick of tries as Buccaneers swept Old Wesley aside at a bitterly cold Dubarry Park to improve their standing at the top of Division 1B.

Despite a growing list of absentees, Buccs set the tempo from the start and utterly dominated the opening half although playing against the biting breeze.

With closest challengers UL Bohemian and Ballynahinch both suffering surprise defeats, the Pirates extended their lead at the top of the table to 11 points with just six matches remaining.

Apart from the cold wind, conditions were near perfect as the Athlone outfit took the game to their opponents from the kick-off and enjoyed such huge amounts of possession and territory that it was a surprise they took 16 minutes to open their account.

A terrific maul by the Pirates pack was finished off by hooker John Sutton with Alan Gaughan adding the conversion from the right. As the home pressure continued, Wesley’s Iain McGann was sin-binned for deliberately knocking the ball on in front of his own posts and Gaughan added further punishment with the 21st-minute penalty kick.

Another penalty after 25 minutes was punted to touch on the left and, after good possession was claimed from the lineout, the Buccs pack drove forward impressively before electric winger Conroy was unleashed and he scooted in for a try near the uprights. Three minutes later, he was dotting down on the left for his second try after taking a pass from Shane Layden and chipping Rory Stynes while also not losing any momentum from the full-back’s attempted block.

Buccaneers, however, were sloppy at the restart and – just like what happened against Galwegians last week – they let a ball bounce and Darren Horan swooped for an opportunist 30th-minute try which Tim Clifford converted.

In the final move of the first half, the midlanders put some splendid phases together only to knock on at the Old Wesley line but were good value for their 22-7 half-time advantage.

It took Brett Wilkinson’s side less than two minutes following the change of ends to stretch their lead and secure the bonus point, with Callum Boland fastening onto Gaughan’s deft grubber for their fourth try with the out-half tapping over the conversion.

Five minutes later, further enterprising play looked like being finished by Simon Meagher but the young lock was stopped just short. However, Buccs kept the move going and the ball was shifted smartly to the left where Conroy completed his hat-trick to make it 13 tries in all for the campaign. Gaughan added a terrific conversion to put the Shannonsiders 36-7 to the good.

With the outcome now not in any doubt, both sides utilised their benches and play became somewhat disjointed and scrappy. Old Wesley’s Will Potterton saw yellow for coming in from the side.

Nevertheless, it was the Dubliners who scored while temporarily depleted with McGann diving over spectacularly for a 65th minute try converted by former Bucc Clifford. Surprisingly, this proved the final score of the contest with home replacement Ryan O’Meara being a late visitor to the sin-bin.

BUCCANEERS: Callum Boland; Rory O’Connor, Alex Hayman, Shane Layden, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Frankie Hopkins; Rory Grenham, John Sutton, Martin Staunton, Daniel Qualter, Simon Meagher, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati (capt).

Replacements: Eoin Maher, Ryan O’Meara, Evan Galvin, Dan Keane, Harry Hughes.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Alan Jeffares, David Poff, Adam Kennedy, Will Potterton; Tim Clifford, Adam Griggs; David Henshaw, David Rowley, James Burton, Donnachadh Phelan, Iain McGann, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.

Replacements: Conor Maguire, Martin Gately, Michael Dunleavy, Matthew Bursey, Jack Maybury.

NAAS 30 DOLPHIN 8, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Johne Murphy, Michael Skelton, Will O’Brien, Peter Osborne, Fionn Carr; Con: Peter Osborne; Pen: Peter Osborne
Dolphin: Try: Rob O’Herlihy; Pen: Barry Keeshan

HT: Naas 12 Dolphin 8

Former professionals Johne Murphy and Fionn Carr both crossed the whitewash as Naas defeated Dolphin 30-8 to climb up to third in the table.

It took Murphy’s high-flying side a while to get going in very tough conditions at Forenaughts, but the player-coach, who was partnered by Carr in the centre, touched down to cancel out an earlier Barry Keeshan penalty.

Bottom side Dolphin were only 12-8 in arrears at half-time, industrious lock Rob O’Herlihy (22 minutes) scoring their one and only try of the afternoon. Naas hit back with their second approaching the interval, with full-back Michael Skelton getting over.

A Peter Osborne penalty on the hour mark stretched Naas’ lead out to seven points and in a frenetic final few minutes, the Corkmen completely collapsed as their hopes of a bonus point went up in flames.

Carr, captain Will O’Brien and Osborne all dotted down late on to claim just a second try-scoring bonus point of the season for Naas. Goal-kicking scrum half Osborne finished with 10 points, moving his haul for the 2016/17 campaign to 97.

NAAS: Michael Skelton; Ben O’Connor, Fionn Carr, Johne Murphy, Peter Howard; Ben Swindlehurst, Peter Osborne; Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Andrew Kearney, Will O’Brien (capt), Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Warren Larkin, Dan O’Byrne, Eoin Walsh, David Barron, Jeff Delaney.

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

Replacements: Cian Scott, John Leahy, Karl Keogh, Lar Coughlan, Killian O’Keeffe.

SHANNON 43 UL BOHEMIANS 20, Thomond Park (played on Friday)
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Conor Glynn, Jack O’Donnell, Niall Mulcahy 2, Penalty try; Cons: Jack Stafford, Fionn McGibney 2; Pens: Jack Stafford 2, Fionn McGibney 2
UL Bohemians: Tries: Noel Kinane, Penalty try; Cons: Rick McKenna 2; Pens: Rick McKenna 2

HT: Shannon 11 UL Bohemians 3

Shannon’s mid-season revival continued at Thomond Park on Friday night with a barnstorming 43-20 derby win over promotion hopefuls UL Bohemians.

Buoyed by their two recent victories, Tom Hayes’ home side quickly established dominance up front with young scrum half Jack Stafford given an enviable stream of quick ball.

Stafford’s half-back partner Fionn McGibney left-footed a penalty through the uprights before Bohs responded in kind, Rick McKenna knocking over the three-pointer after a terrific run by winger Cian Aherne had got them into scoring range.

Munster hooker Duncan Casey was a prominent figure in the forward exchanges for Shannon. After McGibney had restored the hosts’ lead in the 18th minute, Casey made two breaks in the lead up to a close range five-pointer from loosehead Conor Glynn.

Shannon’s impressive mauling saw UL pushed back to their try-line just a couple of minutes into the second half, and the ensuing penalty try for collapsing was converted by McGibney.

A sin-binning left Bohs down to seven in the scrum and although McKenna had slotted his second penalty, set piece ball saw Shannon centre Will Leonard break up towards the line and there was no stopping replacement Niall Mulcahy from a few metres out – 23-6.

The margin was out to 20 points after McGibney rewarded the Shannon scrum with three more points, but yellows for Brian Downey and McGibney saw Hayes’ charges go through a sticky patch and concede a try to Bohs lock Noel Kinane.

With 10 minutes remaining, winger Greg O’Shea followed up on a strong carry from Mulcahy to scramble through for Shannon’s bonus point score. A Stafford penalty was followed by a UL penalty try, their forwards drawing the decision from referee Eddie Hogan O’Connell following a lineout maul five metres out.

However, fittingly it was the victors who had the final say when full-back Stephen Fitzgerald ran in an intercept try all the way from his own 22, with Stafford’s conversion sealing a memorable 23-point success.

SHANNON: Stephen Fitzgerald; Greg O’Shea, Jack O’Donnell, Will Leonard, Luke O’Dea; Fionn McGibney, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Duncan Casey, Tony Cusack, Riley Winter, Ronan Coffey, Lee Nicholas (capt), James Vaughan, Brian Downey.

Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Ryan Healy, Niall Mulcahy, Keith Kavanagh, Nathan Randles.

UL BOHEMIANS: Joe Murray; Jamie McNamara, Finbar Aherne, Harry Fleming, Cian Aherne; Rick McKenna, James Lennon; Pauric Nesbitt, Philip Dowling, Mike Lynch, Noel Kinane, Ed Kelly, James Ryan, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Joe Moloney, Peter Kelleher, Daragh Frawley, Colin Ryan, Robbie Bourke.