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Ulster Bank League: Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs Review

Ulster Bank League: Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs Review

While Les Kiss’ senior team were succumbing to defeat in Swansea, Ulster’s domestic clubs had a red-letter day in the Ulster Bank League as Armagh, Rainey Old Boys and Omagh all gained promotion with play-off victories.

Omagh Accies are back in the All-Ireland League after a gap of 17 years, Phil Marshall’s side securing senior status with a 29-9 win at Shamrock Lodge as hosts Boyne, who had finished second-from-bottom in Division 2C, were demoted to the junior ranks.

Driven on by their powerful forwards, Omagh overturned a 9-7 half-time deficit as they added three closing tries (man-of-the-match Scott Elliott (2) and Adam Longwell) to winger Neil Brown’s first half effort, winning their 33rd match of a marathon season in clinical fashion.

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Head coach Marshall told the Ulster Herald: “I’m absolutely delighted. Massive, massive pride in the team and their performance today. They really raised the bar. The last three games against the other provincial champions were brutally tough, but they sharpened us up for this game.

“Each week we’ve seen a progression and today we raised it again. We have many more challenges again but we will start thinking about that next week. Today is time to celebrate as a club, then move forward and upwards together.”

Garryowen maintained their presence in Division 1A for another year with a hard-earned 18-13 success at home to local rivals UL Bohemians. Right winger Steven McMahon’s fourth try in as many games gave them an 8-3 lead at the break in front of a big crowd at Dooradoyle.

Kickers Neil Cronin and Rick McKenna made it two penalties apiece early in the second half, but gallant Bohs fell 18-6 behind after out-half David Johnston touched down in the 55th minute. Johnston was one of three Munster ‘A’ British & Irish Cup winners included in Garryowen’s starting line-up, along with centre Sam Arnold and lock Sean O’Connor.

Despite a late seven-pointer from Colin Ryan, it was not to be for UL whose retiring winger Cian Aherne, an Ireland Sevens international and twice a Division 1A title winner with Lansdowne, unfortunately bowed out with a play-off final defeat and a torn quad.

Meanwhile, Dolphin’s sixth victory in-a-row saw them end the season with their Division 1B status intact. Nenagh Ormond’s promotion hopes were extinguished by a 13-6 defeat at Irish Independent Park where the home side led from start to finish.

Nenagh had the backing of a strong wind in the first half but trailed 7-3 at the interval, Dolphin’s John Fitzgerald breaking off an eighth-minute maul and feeding scrum half Daryl Foley for a well-worked eighth-minute try which was brilliantly converted by out-half and assistant coach Barry Keeshan.

Keeshan’s opposite number, New Zealander Clayton Stewart, put two earlier misses behind him to split the posts twice – his second success coming just three minutes after the break – to make it a one-point game, but Dolphin, with Ryan Murphy and Munster’s John Madigan having the desired impact off the bench, prevailed thanks to two final penalties from Keeshan.

It was a stunning escape from relegation for the Corkmen who had been teetering on the brink in January/February. The coaching ticket of former team-mates Chris Rowe and Keeshan, who took over from David Corkery with six rounds remaining, deserve much credit for the turnaround in fortunes.

Elsewhere, Armagh will join champions Greystones in Division 2A after seeing off the challenge of Old Crescent 21-10 at the Palace Grounds. Winger Andrew Willis continued his fine form with tries in the 24th and 60th minutes as Crescent, who were Division 2C winners last year, lost to Alex McCloy’s men for the third time this season.

Following their relegation twelve months ago, Rainey Old Boys regained their Division 2B status courtesy of a 35-23 play-off final triumph over Tullamore. Their sixth and final try at Hatrick Park settled a hugely entertaining contest in Rainey’s favour, with their Co. Offaly opponents, who had a 13-point kicking haul from centre Conor Dunne, losing at this stage for the second year running.

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE RESULTS: Saturday, April 29

DIVISION 1A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

GARRYOWEN 18 UL BOHEMIANS 13, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Steven McMahon, David Johnston; Con: Neil Cronin; Pens: Neil Cronin 2
UL Bohemians: Try: Colin Ryan; Con: Rick McKenna; Pens: Rick McKenna 2

HT: Garryowen 8 UL Bohemians 3

– Garryowen retain their Ulster Bank League Division 1A status for next season

GARRYOWEN: Liam Coombes; Steven McMahon, Sam Arnold, Dave McCarthy, Andrew O’Byrne; David Johnston, Neil Cronin (capt); Niall Horan, Diarmuid Barron, JP Phelan, Sean O’Connor, Barra O’Byrne, Tim Ferguson, Mikey Wilson, Bailey Faloon.

Replacements: Eamonn Costelloe, Mike O’Donnell, Johnny Keane, Hugh O’Brien-Cunn­ingham, Ronan O’Halloran, Barry McNamara, ­­­Peadar Collins.

UL BOHEMIANS: Joe Murray; Cian Aherne, Harry Fleming, Rick McKenna, Colin Ryan; Robbie Bourke, James Lennon; Joey Conway, Joe Bennett, Mike Lynch, Daragh Frawley, Noel Kinnane, James Ryan, Ian Condell, Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Ed Kelly, Padraig Nesbitt, Peter King, Pat Staff, Finbar Aherne, Rory White, Rob Hennessy.

DIVISION 1B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

DOLPHIN 13 NENAGH ORMOND 6, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Try: Daryl Foley; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 2
Nenagh Ormond: Pens: Clayton Stewart 2

HT: Dolphin 7 Nenagh Ormond 3

– Dolphin retain their Ulster Bank League Division 1B status for next season

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

Replacements: Cian Scottt, Caolan O’Flynn, John Leahy, Tom McAuliffe, John Madigan, Lar Coughlan, Ryan Murphy, Sam Kennedy, Karl Keogh, Cillian Monahan.

NENAGH ORMOND: Eathon Moloney; Darragh Hassey, Willie O’Connor, Willie Coffey, Derek Corcoran; Clayton Stewart, Eoin Gardiner; Fergal Brislane, Conor Muldoon, John Hayes, Kevin Seymour, Kevin  O’Flaherty (capt), John Healy, Keith Quigley, Lemeki Vaipulu.

Replacements: Aidan Doyle, John Coffey, Mike Slattery, Kevin O’Gorman, John O’Flaherty, Bruce Hayes, Peter O’Leary.

DIVISION 2A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

ARMAGH 21 OLD CRESCENT 10, Palace Grounds

– Armagh are promoted and will play in Ulster Bank League Division 2A next season

DIVISION 2B PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:

RAINEY OLD BOYS 35 TULLAMORE 23, Hatrick Park

– Rainey Old Boys are promoted and will play in Ulster Bank League Division 2B next season

DIVISION 2C PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF:

BOYNE 9 OMAGH 29, Shamrock Lodge

– Omagh are promoted and will play in Ulster Bank League Division 2C next season