The Ulster trio of Malone, Queen’s University and City of Armagh were among the winners in the opening round of Division 2A action. Tim Ryan’s Highfield joined fellow bonus point winners Malone at the summit after defeating Blackrock College 35-19 on home soil.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, September 16
ROUND 1 RESULTS –
Cashel 19 Galwegians 26, Spafield
City of Armagh 30 Greystones 26, Palace Grounds
Corinthians 18 Queen’s University 25, Corinthian Park
Highfield 35 Blackrock College 19, Woodleigh Park
Nenagh Ormond 7 Malone 37, New Ormond Park
A strong opening 30 minutes paved the way for Malone to stun hosts Nenagh Ormond with a 30-point defeat in Tipperary. 20-year-old Ulster Academy prop Peter Cooper picked up another early season try, as did centre Michael Cartmill, with winger Rory Campbell kicking two conversions and two penalties to leave Nenagh 20 points adrift.
13 points was the margin at half-time after Willie O’Connor crossed the whitewash for Ivan Muldoon’s side, but Nenagh’s discipline let them down with three yellow cards over the course of the game. Malone were stronger as a collective, their controlled and disciplined rugby setting up scoring chances which they put away in ruthless fashion.
Led by captain Ross Todd, the Cregagh Red Sox kept the scoreboard moving with an early second half penalty from Campbell. Centres Nathan Brown and Cartmill and winger David McMaster stood out for their play in a back-line that finished off two tries in the closing quarter.
Replacement scrum half Conor Spence and Ulster full-back Jack Owens both dotted down to seal a convincing away victory, which saw place-kicker Campbell accumulate 17 points thanks to seven successful kicks from seven attempts. Nenagh can have no excuses, they were very much second best on the day.
The Palace Grounds witnessed another great tussle between City of Armagh and Greystones, who were fierce rivals in Division 2B last season before they both gained promotion. It was Armagh who took the spoils on this occasion, battling back in the final stretch after their first half lead had been erased.
‘Stones trailed by 17 points on two occasions before half-time, Armagh drawing first blood with a seven-pointer from centre John Faloon after the pack had mauled forward from a lineout. His brother Neil Faloon added a second try after just eight minutes, running a good support line to collect the scoring pass from winger Chris Colvin.
Amid a steady rain shower, out-half Cormac Fox converted both tries and fired a penalty over from 45 metres. He tagged on another three points in response to Andrew Kealy’s opening penalty for Greystones. The Wicklow men began to find their rhythm as half-time approached, their dangerous back-line clicking into gear and winger Jack Keating whizzing through for a converted try. Kealy and Fox traded further penalties for a 23-13 scoreline at the break.
The pendulum swung in Greystones’ favour on the restart, Armagh losing lock Josh McKinley to the sin-bin and Kealy mopping up with the three points. Indeed, Willie Faloon’s charges were down to 13 players a few minutes later when centre Johnny Pollock saw yellow. ‘Stones needed no second invitation and after a series of pick and goes, Robin O’Sullivan broke through for a try which Killian Marmion converted to bring the visitors level – 23-23.
Concern grew among the home crowd when a Marmion penalty nudged the reigning Division 2B champions in front with 10 minutes remaining. The Armagh forwards gave it everything in response, determined not to fall to an opening day defeat at home. The pressure forced a Greystones yellow card and the home side went for broke by turning down a straightforward shot at the posts.
That decision paid off when Armagh, who had been dominant in a number of areas up front, got the shove on at a five-metre scrum and referee Kieran Barry, having had to reset a couple of times, awarded them a penalty try. ‘Stones had a prop binned for good measure and Armagh had done enough to take the spoils at the end of a hugely competitive match.
It is Galway opposition for both Armagh and Greystones next Saturday, with the Ulstermen travelling to Corinthians and ‘Stones hosting Galwegians. Corinthians were 25-18 losers to Queen’s University in round 1, with the Belfast students ensuring a winning start for their new management team headed up by Neil Doak and Derek Suffern. Former Cambridge University captain Daniel Dass’ break paved the way for lock Ali Burke’s match-winning try.
Talented teenage out-half Morgan Codyre showed composure beyond his years as he kicked Galwegians to a thrilling 26-19 victory away to Cashel. Codyre, who was involved with Connacht Eagles last season, collected 16 points at Spafield with his two late penalties proving decisive.
The sides were locked level at half-time (14-14), converted tries from Marty Cummins and Rory Gaffney twice giving Galwegians the lead before Cashel hit back. The hosts had tries from Josh Pickering, Philip Ryan and Brian Fitzpatrick, the last of them coming with five minutes to go, and two conversions from summer signing Darragh Lyons.
However, new-look ‘Wegians triumphed thanks to Codyre’s rich vein of form from the tee – three of his second half penalties came in the final quarter of the hour and were real clutch kicks. It is the Galway club’s first league win since February and a big boost ahead of a tough series of games against Armagh, Blackrock College and Malone.
Blackrock were beaten 35-19 by Highfield at Woodleigh Park in their opening fixture. Full-back Kieran Duggan converted all five tries for the hosts, including a 76th minute score from new captain Miah Cronin. Dave O’Connell and Eddie Earle touched down for Tim Ryan’s men before half-time, while Duggan, Jack Duffy and number 8 Cronin made it five tries in the end. An intercept effort from lock Eoin Fanning was the pick of Blackrock’s three tries.