The gap between Division 1B leaders Buccaneers and the chasing pack is now a full 16 points after they overcame UL Bohemians 39-27 in an action-packed eight-try thriller on the University’s 4G pitch. Elsewhere, lowly Dolphin and Galwegians gave themselves a boost with hard-fought wins.
BALLYNAHINCH 7 GALWEGIANS 20, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Try: Ryan Wilson; Con: Justin Rea
Galwegians: Tries: Peter Claffey, Marc Kelly; Cons: Morgan Codyre 2; Pens: Morgan Codyre 2
HT: Ballynahinch 7 Galwegians 7
Galwegians are hoping this is the turning point of the season after flanker Marc Kelly’s try steered them to a much-needed 20-7 win away to Ballynahinch.
‘Wegians halted their three-match losing streak and drew within two points of third-from-bottom Shannon in a relegation battle that is sure to ebb and flow throughout March and April. This result has knocked Ballynahinch out of the top four.
Both sides lacked a clinical edge early on at Ballyamacarn Park where ‘Hinch out-half Ross Carlisle was stopped just short following a pacy break, and handling errors prevented the visitors from opening their account.
It took 35 minutes for ‘Hinch to break the deadlock, a powerful scrum providing the platform for in-form centre Jordan Grattan to charge through a gap and replacement Ryan Wilson followed up to touch down. Full-back Justin Rea added the extras.
However, ‘Wegians were level within four minutes. Promising Connacht Academy lock Peter Claffey punished a couple of missed tackles with a try converted by teenage out-half Morgan Codyre, as the sides turned around at seven points apiece.
The next score would be crucial and the visitors got it, Codyre landing a penalty to move the westerners in front for the first time. Now facing into the wind, ‘Hinch blew a try-scoring opportunity with a forward pass and then scrum half Blane McIlroy watched a penalty effort from the 10-metre line come back off the post.
Brian McClearn’s men had the winning of the game and this time they saw it out, Codyre punishing a high tackle with three more points and then blindslide Kelly popped up to claim the clinching try, converted once again by Codyre (a Connacht Schools Senior Cup-winning star with Colaiste Iognáid last year).
BALLYNAHINCH: Justin Rea; David Busby, Stuart Morrow, Jordan Grattan, Davy Nicholson; Ross Carlisle, Blane McIlroy; Chris Stevenson, Jonny Murphy, Stuart Orr, James Simpson, John Donnan, Callum Irvine, Conor Joyce, Michael Graham (capt).
Replacements: Jonny Blair, Andrew Harper, Gareth Gill, Ryan Wilson, James McBriar.
GALWEGIANS: Aidan Moynihan; Matthew Dever, Alan McMahon, Dave Clarke, Ronan Moore; Morgan Codyre, Eamonn Dowling; Jason East, John Moloney, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Anthony Ryan, Peter Claffey, Marc Kelly, Josh Pim, Eoghan Masterson.
Replacements: Martin Fox, Patrick Curran, Matt Towey, Rory Gaffney, Daniel Carr.
DOLPHIN 24 SHANNON 11, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: Barry Fitzgerald, Will Hanly, Ryan Murphy 2; Con: Barry Keeshan 2
Shannon: Try: Nathan Randles; Pens: Ronan McKenna 2
HT: Dolphin 12 Shannon 11
Bottom side Dolphin gave themselves a lifeline by running out 24-11 bonus point winners of this hotly-contested Munster derby clash with Shannon.
David Corkery’s charges scored 12 points in each half at Irish Independent Park and held the visitors scoreless during the closing 40 minutes – no mean feat considering that Shannon had defeated Galwegians, Old Wesley and UL Bohemians in recent rounds.
The omens were not good for Shannon early on as their captain Lee Nicholas was sin-binned and injuries forced both James Vaughan and Munster’s Stephen Fitzgerald off. Dolphin seized the initiative, moving the ball at pace and stretching the Shannon defence for flanker Barry Fitzgerald to cross in the corner with six minutes gone.
Shannon full-back Ronan McKenna was successful with his second penalty attempt in the 17th minute. There were definite signs that Shannon were finding their rhythm and some ten minutes later, slick link-up play near halfway set up winger Nathan Randles for a run to the try-line and an 8-5 lead.
McKenna tagged on a penalty, but Dolphin had the final say before half-time when Shannon kicked out on the full, the hosts secured the resulting lineout and winger Will Hanly used his pace to burst over to the left of the posts with out-half Barry Keeshan’s conversion edging them back in front – 12-11.
Individual errors blighted Shannon’s play on the resumption and they also fell foul of referee Frank Murphy’s whistle. After Keeshan missed a 58th minute penalty attempt following an offside call, a maul infringement soon set up a Dolphin five-metre lineout and number 8 Ryan Murphy was driven over to extend the lead to 17-11.
Dolphin pushed on for the bonus point, centre Cian McGovern surging through but losing control of the ball over the line and then a cross-field kick effort was foiled by Randles’ tackle into touch.
Just when it looked like the fourth try was beyond the reach of the hosts, Shannon’s latest knock-on gave Dolphin one last chance and following a series of pick and goes deep in the 22, Murphy crashed over for Keeshan to convert and cap off a fine performance from the Corkmen.
– Photos by Declan Forrest Photography
DOLPHIN: Timmy Phelan; Gerry Ryan, Cian McGovern, Ian O’Donoghue, Will Hanly; Barry Keeshan (capt), Daryl Foley; Liam Walsh, Cian Scott, James Rochford, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahony, Barry Fitzgerald, Kevin Allen, Ryan Murphy.
Replacements: John Leahy, Anthony Mason, Karl Keogh, Lar Coughlan, Killian O’Keeffe.
SHANNON: Ronan McKenna; Stephen Fitzgerald, Jack O’Donnell, Will Leonard, Nathan Randles; Jack Stafford, Keith Kavanagh; Conor Glynn, Duncan Casey, Tony Cusack, Riley Winter, Ronan Coffey, Lee Nicholas (capt), James Vaughan, Brian Downey.
Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Ryan Healy, John Foley, Darren Galvin, Robbie Deegan.
OLD WESLEY 49 BALLYMENA 19, Donnybrook
Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Mark Rowley 2, Martin Gately, David Poff 2, Tim Clifford, Adam Kennedy; Cons: Tim Clifford 4; Pens: Tim Clifford 2
Ballymena: Tries: David Shanahan, Matthew Norris 2; Cons: Brett Herron 2
HT: Old Wesley 23 Ballymena 0
There were try doubles for Mark Rowley and David Poff as Old Wesley produced their best display for some time in a 49-19 bonus point victory over Ballymena at Donnybrook.
Having struggled in recent weeks with three successive defeats, Wesley were back close to their best as this sizzling seven-try showing sent them back into the top four – and moved the Braidmen down to sixth in the process.
Ulster half-back duo Brett Herron and David Shanahan wielded little influence in a first half that ended 23-0 in Wesley’s favour, albeit that the visitors had some decent play and promising phases in the 22.
Wesley took their chances in clinical fashion, running in three tries through forwards Rowley and Martin Gately and 20-year-old centre Poff. The latter was partnered in midfield by the evergreen Michael Hastings (37) who put in some textbook tackles throughout.
Hard running from Stephen Boyle and Poff paved the way for prop Gately to go over in the corner after a clever switch back out to the wing, while former Leinster underage player Poff also touched down out wide following an advancing maul.
The tries kept coming for the Dubliners in the second period, a stunning bit of interplay between backs and forwards up the left wing ending with out-half Tim Clifford touching down from close range and converting for 30-0.
With Gately in the bin, Ballymena finally got off the mark when a skip pass put replacement Matthew Norris over. However, the visitors faltered again when they were turned over at a lineout and Wesley scrum half Adam Kennedy used his pace and sidestep to claim an unconverted try.
It was two tries apiece in the closing stages, Rowley rumbling through from a ruck just over five metres out and Poff breaking free up the wing for his second score in the corner. Ballymena had consolation scores from Shanahan and Norris.
– Photos by Deryck Vincent
OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Paddy Davis, David Poff, Michael Hastings, Paul Harte; Tim Clifford, Adam Kennedy; Martin Gately, David Rowley, James Burton, Michael Dunleavy, Iain McGann (capt), Johnny O’Sullivan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley.
Replacements: Conor Maguire, David Henshaw, Donnachadh Phelan, Brendan Monahan, Jack Maybury.
BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Jordan Foster, James Beattie, Martin Irwin (capt), Jonny Rossborough; Brett Herron, David Shanahan; Bryan Young, Andrew Cundell, Chris Cundell, Mark Foster, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Tony McGuinness, Adrian Hamilton.
Replacements: James Carson, James Taggart, Joe Thompson, Glenn Baillie, Matthew Norris.
UCC 16 NAAS 13, the Mardyke
Scorers: UCC: Tries: Tom Kiersey, Daire Feeney; Pens: Kevin O’Keeffe 2
Naas: Try: Peter Osborne; Con: Peter Osborne; Pens: Peter Osborne 2
HT: UCC 8 Naas 6
UCC maintained their impressive 2017 form with a two-try 16-13 triumph over promotion-chasing Naas at the Mardyke.
These sides had scored 11 tries between them last week, but it was a place-kick that split them today in Cork where Kevin O’Keeffe’s 74th-minute penalty steered the students to their third straight league win.
Naas scrum half Peter Osborne book-ended the first half with two penalties, leaving Johne Murphy’s men just 8-6 behind at the break as they looked to extend their three-match winning run.
Despite conceding on the stroke of half-time, UCC had a strong finish to the first half with an unconverted try from lively out-half Tom Kiersey on the half hour mark and winger O’Keeffe added a penalty eight minutes later.
Defences were on top in the third quarter and UCC made Osborne pay for a penalty miss when they engineered a well-worked try for replacement Daire Feeney in the 62nd minute. O’Keeffe converted for a 13-6 lead.
Naas were level within five minutes, Osborne sniping over and converting his own try to take his season’s haul to 110 points. But one lapse of discipline was enough for O’Keeffe (111 points overall) to coolly kick the Cork youngsters to a narrow victory.
UCC remain seventh in the standings but are now just six points off fourth place, while the losing bonus point was enough for Naas to climb into second spot, edging ahead of UL Bohemians on scoring difference.
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, Daragh Molony, Conor Barry, Cathal Gallagher, Paul Derham.
Replacements: Ciaran McHugh, Charlie Slowey, Eddie Earl, Murray Linn, Daire Feeney.
NAAS: Michael Skelton; Rob 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, Jordan Duggan, Cillian Dempsey, David Barron, Johnny Delaney.
UL BOHEMIANS 27 BUCCANEERS 39, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Scorers: UL Bohemians: Tries: Harry Fleming, Rick McKenna, Rory White; Cons: Rick McKenna 3; Pens: Rick McKenna 2
Buccaneers: Tries: Alex Hayman, Kolo Kiripati, Daniel Keane, Rory O’Connor, Shane O’Leary; Cons: Alan Gaughan 4; Pens: Alan Gaughan 2
HT: UL Bohemians 13 Buccaneers 17
Barring a late season collapse, Buccaneers look destined to claim the Division 1B title and promotion after beating second-placed UL Bohemians 39-27 on the University’s 4G pitch.
Buccs now have a 16-point lead at the top of the table with just five rounds remaining. They ran in five tries in Limerick, including one from Connacht’s Shane O’Leary who played in the centre having recently returned from an injury lay-off.
These are two very attack-minded teams so it was no surprise that this was an open and free-flowing encounter. The Pirates led 17-13 at the interval, centre Alex Hayman and captain Kolo Kiripati both touching down and number 10 Alan Gaughan kicking the rest of the points.
UL’s Kiwi full-back Rick McKenna ran in a rousing try and converted it himself to edge the hosts in front, before Gaughan fired over a penalty to square things up at 20-all and set up a mouth-watering final quarter.
Despite missing two of their key attackers in the Ireland Sevens-tied Jordan Conroy and Shane Layden, the Athlone outfit strung together back-to-back tries to give themselves a match-winning cushion. Replacement Daniel Keane and winger Rory O’Connor both crossed the whitewash to seal another try-scoring bonus point for Brett Wilkinson’s side.
Bohs centre Rory White finished off an excellent try by darting in under the posts, putting the outcome in doubt again at 32-27. However, as they pushed for a much-needed win, the hosts were floored by O’Leary’s last-minute intercept score from halfway which keeps the Pirates on course for the top flight.
It was a heartbreaking finish for UL who emerged pointless from a rip-roaring game that they contributed so handsomely to. They have slipped to third in the table and will be looking to rally as they face into three massive March fixtures with Ballymena, Galwegians and Old Wesley.
UL BOHEMIANS: Rick McKenna; Finbar Aherne, Harry Fleming, Rory White, Cian Aherne; Robbie Bourke, Angus Lloyd; Padraig Nesbitt, Philip Dowling, Mike Lynch, Daragh Frawley, Noel Kinane, James Ryan, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.
Replacements: Joe Moloney, Peter Kelleher, Craig Trimble, Joe Murray, James Lennon.
BUCCANEERS: Luke Carty; Rory O’Connor, Shane O’Leary, Alex Hayman, Callum Boland; Alan Gaughan, Frankie Hopkins; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Saba Meunargia, Daniel Qualter, Simon Meagher, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati (capt).
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Rory Grenham, Evan Galvin, Daniel Keane, Dean McMahon.