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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Sligo have closed to within four points of Division 2C leaders Navan following last weekend’s matches, while Seapoint’s second win on the trot has moved them above Kanturk and out of the relegation play-off spot.



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Bangor 7 Kanturk 7, Upritchard Park
Navan 12 Rainey Old Boys 6, Balreask Old
Seapoint 32 Midleton 26, Kilbogget Park
Sligo 27 Boyne 22, Hamilton Park
Tullamore 10 Bruff 13, Spollanstown

A scrappy and at times fiery affair ended in a stalemate at Upritchard Park where hosts Bangor drew 7-all with Kanturk. 

Having narrowly overcome Kanturk earlier in the season, Bangor knew they would have a tough time in this return fixture. However, despite the previous meeting being a hard, but fair contest, Bangor were surprised to face a Kanturk side prepared to literally fight for the much needed win that would ease their worries at the foot of the league table. Unfortunately, when combined with a poor level of control by the referee, this resulted in an unedifying spectacle that will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Given the various incidents throughout the game, it’s probably fair to say that the most remarkable statistic of the day was that there were no serious injuries, apart from minor cuts and bruises.
The Bangor team saw the several familiar faces returning after varying degrees of absence – Craig Burton, Ryan Latimer and David Bradford in the forwards, and Phil Broderick, Ali Lockhart and Desi Fusco in the backs. With the pack now approaching full strength, they demonstrated their power from the first scrum, pushing their opposite numbers back with apparent ease. The lineouts were also looking strong, with Burton disrupting the Kanturk put-in repeatedly. By contrast, the back line looked less at ease and suffered several handling errors that might otherwise have led to good attacking chances. What Kanturk lacked in their scrum set piece, they made up with determined and effective rucking, as they contested every loose ball and tackle. It was at such a breakdown that the first notable incident of the game took place. Some repeatedly wayward Kanturk boots exacted a tit-for-tat reaction by James Henly, who appeared to be on the receiving end. Unfortunately the referee only saw Henly’s reaction, so had no option but to show him the yellow card. Although with the extra man advantage, Kanturk were unable to score, despite laying siege to Bangor’s line for prolonged periods. Bangor’s cause was further hindered when Desi Fusco’s tackle on the Kanturk winger – who was under pressure after a kick ahead into the Kanturk twenty two – was judged to be high and consequently joined Henly in the sin bin. As the first half was drawing to a close, the referee finally penalised Kanturk for diving in at the ruck, resulting in a yellow card for one of their props. With only a minute or so left to play, Bangor opted to kick for goal, but the gusting crosswind pushed Mark Widdowson’s attempt wide, resulting in the half time score remaining 0-0.
The second half was very much a repeat of the first, with Bangor dominant in the set pieces and Kanturk proving more effective across their backs. Their superior handling and quicker passing was eventually rewarded after 69 minutes when the ball was swept across to the left wing where the move was finished off with a try in the corner. The conversion was added to put the visitors ahead by 0-7.

Unfortunately, the off-the-ball niggles of the first half were also carried over into the second, this time culminating with Henly on the receiving end of an unprovoked punch to his right eye. Once patched up again, he was able to re-join the Bangor pack and take play into the Kanturk twenty two. Bangor retained their focus and patiently brought play to within a few metres of the Kanturk goal line. However, Kanturk’s discipline once again gave way under the pressure, and Bangor were duly awarded a penalty. Opting for the scrum, Bangor won their ball and steadily started to push the Kanturk pack backwards until they could contain the shove no longer and dragged the scrum down. With a push-over try looking inevitable, the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try, to which Widdowson added the simple conversion, drawing the sides at 7-7.
The remaining few minutes were tense but scrappy as both sides made final efforts to try and snatch a late winning score. However, this was not to be and as the referee blew for full time, Bangor may have felt disappointed not to have taken all the points from this game, but in coming away with a draw they had halted their recent losing streak and can now look forward to doing even better when they travel to Midleton in County Cork in a fortnight’s time.

It was tough and it was demanding but in the end Navan defeated Rainey Old Boys 12-6 to go back on top of the AIL Div 2C at Balreask Old today. 
This was a tremendous display by Alan Kingsley’s side particularly in the second-half when they dominated the visitors from Ulster up front. 
The visitors had the best of the exchanges in the opening half and they deservedly led 3-0 at the break with their full-back Scott McLean firing over from a penalty near the posts. 
For lengthy spells Rainey camped close to the Navan line and only some last-ditch tackling prevented a try with players such as Jackson and Sean McEntaggart getting in last-gasp tackles to hold back the tide.  Jackson, in particular, did well to stop a Rainey player from getting over for a touchdown.
Navan spurned a great chance to get on the scoreboard in that opening half when Declan Bannon missed a penalty from close in. 
The balance of the game shifted completely after the break as Navan, assisted by the growing strength of he wind, took control. 
With Conor Ryan, Bryan McKeever, Leigh Jackson and Riaan van der Vyver making the hard yards Navan set up field positions close to the Rainey tryline. 
Only some desperate defending kept Navan out as Kingsley’s men moved the ball through the phases. 
Eventually the Ulster dam broke and from a line-out close to the Rainey tryline David Sheridan took the ball down, a rolling maul was set up and Sean Healy got over for a try. 
Declan Bannon missed the conversion but Navan, now having edged in front were determined to stay there. 
Feeding off quick ball from the rucks and maul their powerful set of forwards started to dominate their opponents with the front-row of Jackson, Healy and Sean O’Hehir superb. 
It was pressure from the forwards and a series of scrums that resulted in referee Robbie O’Sullivan awarding a penalty-try with time almost up which eventually sealed the win. Bannon converted. 
McLean superbly slotted over from an injury time penalty to rescue a bonus point for Rainey but Navan secured their win to complete the double over their nearest rivals – much to the delight of the home support.  

Sligo’s charge through Division 2C of the Ulster Bank league stayed firmly on track with a hard earned victory over an aggressive Boyne side in what best can be described as a spikey encounter at Strandhill on Saturday.
With Sligo pushing for a place in the promotion race and Boyne fighting for survival at the foot of the table, a lively encounter was always on the cards and the watching faithful were delivered an intense battle from start to finish.
As Queen Maeve’s resting place overlooked the perfect Hamilton Park surface Sligo kicked off with the breeze in their faces playing towards Knocknarea but it was the visitors that grasped the early initiative. A combination of Sligo lethargy through unforced errors and Boyne desire earned an early a score for the visitors and Boyne dotted down with a converted try after 6 minutes for the perfect start.
The worrisome trend continued for the local support with further Sligo errors resulting in a second converted Boyne try on 13 min.
Boyne pushed their lead out to 17 with a penalty on 24 minutes before Sligo were finally stung into life.
A hanging Conor Kerins restart was recovered by flanker Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill out wide on the left. The ball was moved right where centre Daire Byrne carried with purpose bringing play into the vistors 22. Hooker Shane O’Hehir joined in and brought play close to the line before the ball was moved to Outhalf Michael Wells who expertly evaded the cover to dot down left of the posts.
Full back Jack Keegan popped over the conversion with his usual confidence to move Sligo to within 10 of the opposition with 27 minutes gone.
The revival continued with Sligo working their way back into the Boyne 22. The sustained pressure forced a penalty and scrum half Ryan Feehily opted to move it quickly. Second Row Jamie Bowes brought the drive to within 10 but Sligo were illegally prevented from recycling and another penalty was awarded. Feehily again opted to go quickly to Bowes and play was brought right to the tryline. A quick presentation allowed Wells another opportunity to step inside and although the outhalf was held out, the supporting O’Hehir forced his way over to dot down. Keegan again converted to narrow the gap to three with five minutes remaining in the half.
Sligo were now in full flow and looked to have taken the lead when a flowing move involving interchange passing between Wells and O’Hehir appeared to have yielded Sligo’s third Try. However to the dismay of the home support an intervention from the touch judge resulted in the try being disallowed and a penalty for alleged foul play was awarded to be visitors back on the Sligo 10 metre line. Boyne grasped this reprieve with both hands and from the resulting lineout drove over the Sligo line to move into a 22-14 two score lead going into the interval.
Despite the setback Sligo started the second half with determination and were gradually gaining domination in most areas. Props Conor Mitchell and Mark Keegan were solid at the scrum. Ciaran Cassidy was proving an able deputy to the hard carrying Bowes and Captain Shane Boyle carried directly into the heart of the opposition time and time again. Mark Rooney also caught the eye with some trademark runs when afforded space.
With 50 minutes on the clock Sligo move within one point of the visitors. A clearing Boyne kick was collected by Conor Kerins. The winger countered up the left before linking up with Wells. The outhalf stepped through the defence and linked up with pacey winger Callum Goddard. Goddard shot into the 22 and looked to exchange passes with Wells. A stray Boyne hand illegally slapped the pass to the ground but O’Dowd-Hill was running the perfect support line and was able to rescue the move and feed Goddard who raced to the line for Sligo’s third try. Another excellent Keegan conversion put the smallest margin between the teams.
Sligo were now in control and went hunting for the lead. Matt Davey and Thomas Gormaley were introduced to the fray and Davey made an immediate impact with a super burst up the middle but Sligo were unable to capitalise as a relieving penalty was awarded.
Midway through the half Sligo took the lead through a Keegan penalty from the 10 meter line and the dose was repeated on seventy minutes with another well struck effort from outside the 22 on the left hand side.
Sligo gamely tried to pick up the bonus point try but a fractious final 10 minutes in which the referee issued three yellow cards meant that the final score remained at 27-22 in favour of the home side.
Sligo now sit in second place four points behind leaders Navan RFC and on the the same points as Rainey Old Boys who are Sligo’s next opponents on Saturday March 4th. The match takes place in Hatrick Park Magherafelt with a 2.30 Kick off.
Sligo Jack Keegan, Callum Goddard, Mark Rooney, Daire Byrne, Conor Kerins, Michael Wells, Ryan Feehily, Mark Keegan, Shane OHehir, Conor Mitchell, Jamie Bowes, Ciaran Cassidy, Simon Coulter, Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill, Shane Boyle (Capt) Reps Ross O’Boyle, Thomas Gormaley, Michael McMorrow, Matt Davey, Enda Gavin

On Saturday 18th of February Tullamore welcomed Bruff RFC to Spollanstown. Tullamore were undoubtedly favourites going in to this game but as we have witnessed thus far in this league, a win is not guaranteed until the final whistle. Last week Tullamore lost at the death away to Rainey Old Boys RFC and unfortunately Saturday’s runout ended in a similar fashion. Tullamore started the game with a strong squad. However it was clear from the outset that Bruff were going to be no pushovers. Bruff’s defence gave Tullamore no space and the opening half was a game of scrums between the two 22’s. Some clever play by full back Karl Dunne gave Tullamore a penalty and their first opportunity to break the deadlock at 0-0. Karl stood up and slotted it over to give Tullamore the lead with 35 minutes played. Straight away Bruff returned to the Tullamore 22 where they managed to get a penalty of their own. Tullamore will look back on this one in dismay when the game is reviewed next week. With the penalty conceded in front of the posts, the Bruff kicker had little to do to leave the score 3-3 at half time. The second half started with great intensity from Tullamore lead by the very impressive Ger Molloy. Ger has been a key figure for Tullamore this season, making line breaks and spurring on his team with huge carries. Unfortunately on this occasion the ball was knocked on in contact and Bruff regained possession. Bruff showed no fear and ran at Tullamore spreading the ball at speed across the pitch to score their first try. The try was touched down in the corner resulting in a very difficult conversion kick that came up short. The score stood at 3-8 with 30 minutes to play. Tullamore responded quickly with a try of their own. The back line combining effortlessly for the first time to allow Connor Dunne to stride through under the posts. When given space and opportunity this back line are menacing and the speed at which the ball went through the hands for this try is evidence of this. Karl Dunne converted to put the score at 10-8 with 25 minutes to play. The next twenty minutes were played out in the middle of the pitch. A very physical and close encounter, the latter stages of the second half was filled with scrum after scrum. It was off a scrum Bruff found a gap, again sending the ball from right to left before again crashing over the Tullamore try line to lead the game 13-10 with only five minutes to go. Tullamore tried to rally again lead by captain Tom Gilligan and Colm Heffernan. Tullamore won a scrum in the Bruff 22 and the packed stand held their collective breath in the hopes that for once Tullamore could steal it at the death. It wasn’t to be. Bruff pilled on the pressure at the ruck affording Tullamore no space to make any further progress toward the try line. Tullamore were penalised for not releasing and with the resulting penalty Bruff kicked the ball out to secure the win. This one will really hurt Tullamore. On a day when results elsewhere went in our favour, we couldn’t get the job the done. It wasn’t for lack of commitment and determination. Every player gave their best but unfortunately on the day it wasn’t good enough. The lads will need to regroup now and learn from two difficult losses, both due to last gasp tries. The next outing will be away to Kanturk RFC on Saturday 4th of March. For updates follow us on Twitter @TullamoreRFC. The squad was as follows:
Karl Dunne
Connor Dunne
Tom Gilligan(cpt)
Dylan Kelso
Robert Tormey
Aidan Wynne
Aaron Deverell
Kevin Browne
Colm Heffernan
Leon Martin
Ivor Deverell
S Rigney
Ger Molloy
Cathal Feighery (V.C)
Darragh Lowry
Daniel Cronin
Matthew Murphy
Ciaran Ennis
Mike Tormey
Brian Gilligan
Mark Kennedy (cover)
Sean McCabe (cover)