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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Flanker Kevin Allen produced a man-of-the-match performance as Dolphin opened their win account for the new season by defeating Ballymena 10-6 at Eaton Park on Saturday.



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Scorers: Ballymena: Pens: Brett Herron 2
Dolphin: Try: Daryl Foley; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pen: Barry Keeshan

HT: Ballymena 3 Dolphin 7

Kevin Allen typified the tenacity of the visitors to hold onto their first half lead, with Dolphin’s player-coach Barry Keeshan converting a 35th-minute try from his half-back partner Daryl Foley for a 7-3 scoreline.

Play was cramped between the two 10-metre lines for much of the opening quarter, at the end of which Brett Herron’s 19th-minute penalty had given the hosts the lead. The 21-year-old out-half made his seasonal debut for Ulster on Friday night, playing 29 minutes of their bonus point victory over the Dragons.

But things turned sour for Ballymena in the lead up to half-time. They lost young hooker Adam McBurney to the sin-bin and Foley nipped over for the game’s only try, five minutes later. Keeshan converted and then added an early second half penalty to keep the scoreboard moving in the right direction.

The Braidmen produced a strong finish to take the spoils at Old Wesley in the opening round, however they were met by a defiant Dolphin defence on this occasion. Chris Rowe’s charges scrambled brilliantly after initial breaks from the home side, keeping their try-line intact and only giving up a second three-pointer to Herron. That came after Dolphin full-back Olan Crowley saw yellow in the 62nd minute.

The Cork club’s commitment was summed up by winger Will Hanly’s try-saving tackle 10 minutes from time, which led to a relieving penalty for the visitors. While Ballymena certainly left opportunities behind them, Dolphin’s dogged performance saw them hold on for a four-point success and a jump of three places up to seventh in the table.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Matthew Norris, Callum Patterson, Alan Smyth, Jonny Rosborough; Brett Herron, Glenn Baillie; Nacho Cladera Crespo, Adam McBurney, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Mark Foster, Willie McKay, Stephen Mulholland.

Replacements: James Taggart, Houston Bonnar, Matthew Agnew, Angus Kernohan, Michael Strone.

DOLPHIN: Olan Crowley; Alan O’Sullivan, Cian McGovern, Ian O’Donoghue, Will Hanly; Barry Keeshan, Daryl Foley; James Rochford (capt), Liam Walsh, Brian Scott, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahony, James Vaughan, Kevin Allen, Barry Fitzgerald.

Replacements: Anthony Mason, Darren Collins, Alex Denby, Kevin O’Leary, Killian O’Keeffe.

BALLYNAHINCH 27 OLD WESLEY 6, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Johnny McPhillips, Conor Kelly, Aaron Cairns, Richard Reaney; Cons: Johnny McPhillips 2; Pen: Johnny McPhillips
Old Wesley: Pens: Adam Kennedy 2

HT: Ballynahinch 14 Old Wesley 6

Ballynahinch were the only Ulster club to post a win in Division 1B this weekend, outscoring Old Wesley by four tries to none to take a 27-6 verdict at Ballymacarn Park.

Ulster squad member Johnny McPhillips put his injury troubles behind him to score 12 points for ‘Hinch, including the game’s opening try after 10 minutes. The 20-year-old out-half, who missed the summer’s World Rugby U-20 Championship with a groin injury, intercepted a pass on halfway and scampered clear to put the hosts in front, breaking up a promising early spell from Wesley when Josh Pim and Matthew Bursey were heavily involved.

The Dubliners’ scrum half Adam Kennedy knocked over a penalty in response, but he was sin-binned shortly afterwards for a deliberate infringement at a ruck. A malfunctioning lineout – for the second week running – was another significant hurdle for Wesley to overcome.

A neat passage of play, involving backs and forwards and some excellent hands, put ‘Hinch full-back Conor Kelly over for try number two on the half hour mark, close to the posts. Kennedy landed a second penalty to close the gap to 14-6 for half-time, but that proved to be Wesley’s final score as they fell to the bottom of the table.

‘Hinch had the benefit of a strong cross-wind in the second period but Wesley defended smartly in the third quarter, giving little away until McPhillips booted a penalty goal in the 50th minute to strengthen his side’s grip on proceedings.

‘Hinch’s new combinations were working well together. Backs coach Tom Rock and experienced centre Stuart Morrow got through some very effective work in midfield, while last season’s Wesley College captain, Campbell Classon, is a player to watch out for. This was his second successive league start alongside Zack McCall and Jonny Simpson.

Too many of Wesley’s attacks broke down. despite the best efforts of number 8 Pim who was their one player to continually get over the gain-line. Although the game began to ebb away from them, Wesley deserved to be closer on the scoreboard given their solid defensive display.

Right winger Richard Reaney claimed ‘Hinch’s third try after a bout of pressure in the 58th minute, and Ulster’s Aaron Cairns, who partnered McPhillips at half-back, showed his trademark pace to run in the bonus point score right on 80 minutes.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Kelly; Richard Reaney, Stuart Morrow, Tom Rock, David Busby; Johnny McPhillips, Aaron Cairns (capt); Campbell Classon, Zack McCall, Jonny Simpson, John Donnan, Peter Browne, Ollie Loughead, Jack Regan, Zac Ward.

Replacements: Graham McKittrick, Zac Cinnamond, Aaron Hall, Blane McIlroy, Callum McLaughlin.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Eoghan O’Reilly, David Poff, Cillian Monahan, Richie Jermyn; Josh Miller, Adam Kennedy; Cronan Gleeson, Conor Maguire, James Burton, Mark Robinson, Josh Hinde, Darren Horan (capt), Matthew Bursey, Josh Pim.

Replacements: Craig Telford, Ryan Healy, Johnny O’Sullivan, Kieran Murphy, Jack Maybury.

BANBRIDGE 31 UCC 31, Rifle Park
Scorers: Banbridge: Tries: Adam Doherty, Eric O’Sullivan, Peter Cromie, Michael Lowry, Andrew Morrison; Cons: Ian Porter 3
UCC: Tries: Cian Bohane 3, Ryan Murphy; Cons: James Taylor 4; Pen: James Taylor

HT: Banbridge 19 UCC 10

UCC produced a stunning three-try comeback to earn a share of the spoils with Banbridge in an unforgettable 31-31 draw at Rifle Park.

Bann looked to be well on their way when three-time Ulster Schools Cup winner Michael Lowry marked his debut for the club with a try. That put 21 points between the teams early in the second half, however it was UCC who had more in the tank as converted tries from former Munster centre Cian Bohane (2) and Ryan Murphy squared things up with little over 10 minutes remaining.

James Taylor, who had an otherwise excellent day with the boot in windy conditions, missed a late penalty opportunity for the students. A stalemate ensued and both sides picked up three points for their efforts, Bann slipping one place to third and UCC moving up to sixth.

Buoyed by last week’s win at UL Bohemians, the Co. Down outfit hit the front thanks to Adam Doherty’s 10th-minute try, before Taylor responded from the tee and then Bohane wrestled his way over in the 25th minute for a 10-3 lead, following up on a ground-gaining maul from the UCC pack.

Daniel Soper’s charges picked up the pace, forcing errors and finding gaps as the likes of Ulster’s Robert Lyttle, who started at full-back, got more involved in attack. Nonetheless, it was Bann’s ‘front row union’ who showed the backs how it is done. Prop Eric O’Sullivan, a summer signing from Trinity, and hooker Peter Cromie both touched down in the final five minutes before half-time, the latter barging through from a late lineout maul to make it 19-10.

indeed, the reigning Division 2A champions made it four tries in quick succession with two more just after the break. Centre Andrew Morrison and Ulster Academy newcomer Lowry, who only turned 19 last month, both breached the UCC defence with captain Ian Porter adding his third successful conversion.

Back came the Corkmen, John Poland and skipper Darragh Moloney leading the charge with their deft distribution and powerful carrying respectively. Just when it seemed like a 51st minute attack had broken down after Bohane’s attempted offload went to ground, the recently-retired professional reacted quickest to scoop up the loose ball and dart in under the posts – much to the annoyance of a static Bann defence.

UCC kept the pressure on and held onto territory long enough for Bohane to complete his hat-trick on the hour mark and flanker Murphy added the bonus point score with 12 minutes remaining. Taylor split the posts with both conversions, completely erasing Bann’s lead but both sides’ search for a match-winning score went unrewarded in an evenly-contested finish.

BANBRIDGE: Robert Lyttle; Tom Casear, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Adam Doherty; Michael Lowry, Ian Porter (capt), Eric O’Sullivan, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Christopher Allen, Ryan Hughes, Caleb Montgomery, Nick Hayes, Stephen Irvine.

Replacements: Jonny Weir, Stuart Cromie, Tom O’Toole, Mathew Laird, Josh Cromie, Andrew Kirkwood.

UCC: Shane McAuliffe; Kevin Slater, Cian Bohane, Murray Linn, Richard Walsh; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, Tadhg McCarthy, Robert O’Donovan, Cian Barry, Darragh Moloney (capt), Ryan Murphy, Lee McSherry, Daire Feeney.

Replacements: Fergus Hennessy, James French, Brian O’Mahony, Alex Molloy, James Kiernan.

NAAS 28 UL BOHEMIANS 13, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Max Whittingham, James Connolly, Johne Murphy, Fionn Higgins; Con: Johne Murphy; Pens: Johne Murphy 2
UL Bohemians: Tries: Daragh Frawley, James Ryan; Pen: JJ Hanrahan

HT: Naas 13 UL Bohemians 3

Naas have opened up a two-point lead at the top of Division 1B after running in four tries to hand UL Bohemians a 28-13 defeat at Forenaughts.

Johne Murphy’s well-drilled squad maintained their bonus point-winning form, with Murphy, who started at out-half again, chipping in with 13 points himself. Connacht flanker James Connolly and Max Whittingham also touched down, while winger Fionn Higgins took his tally for the league campaign to three tries in two games.

There was plenty of pre-match buzz to this encounter with news filtering through that JJ Hanrahan, who resumed full training with Munster earlier in the week following a shoulder injury, would start in the number 10 jersey for UL Bohs.

Although the hosts made a slow start with the early advantage of the wind, scrum half Whittingham sniped over from close range for the first half’s only try. Naas led 13-3 at the turnaround with Murphy kicking the other eight points and Hanrahan knocking over the visitors’ lone response.

Hanrahan sent a second-minute penalty through the posts and UL looked the better side in the opening quarter. Despite this, they could not convert their pressure into points. It was a different story at the other end of the pitch, Naas forcing a knock-on at a Bohs five-metre lineout and from the subsequent 23rd-minute scrum, Whittingham darted over for his try.

Another strong scrum from the home side drove UL backwards to set up Murphy’s first penalty goal of the afternoon and he added another on the stroke of half-time, making it a 10-point game. The lead was extended five minutes after the restart when Connolly, making his league debut for Naas, crashed over following a series of pick-and-goes.

Bohs replied with a Daragh Frawley try on 54 minutes, the second row seizing his chance to dive over via a five-metre lineout, but two superb scores by the Naas backs in sixty seconds finished the game as a contest.

With 63 minutes on the clock, Peter Howard made a break and found Peter Osborne in support. He, in turn, passed to Ross Bailey-Kearney and the ball was then quickly shipped out to Murphy who scored in the corner. Straight from the restart, Naas struck again.

Great handling by the backs saw the ball moved out to right winger Higgins, 40 metres from the whitewash. Higgins does not need much space to finish a scoring opportunity and there was no stopping him here as he sprinted clear of the Bohs defenders to score his third try of the campaign.

Naas now led 28-8 but, to their credit, Bohs never stopped trying. They strung together some punchy phases and the pack caused some damage. They were rewarded with a consolation try scored by replacement James Ryan. However, Murphy’s side were too good on the day and it was a very satisfying outcome for them against a club that ended their promotion hopes last season.

NAAS: Michael Skelton; Fionn Higgins, Donal Droney, Ross Bailey-Kearney, Peter Howard; Johne Murphy, Max Whittingham; Stephen Lackey, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Stephen Kinneavy, David Benn (capt), Andrew Kearney, James Connolly, Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Charlie Kings, Jordan Duggan, Philip Jordan, Peter Osborne, Fionn Carr.

UL BOHEMIANS: Jack Murray; Finbar Aherne, Harry Fleming, Adrian Enright, Colin Ryan; JJ Hanrahan, Joe Murray; Padraig Nesbitt, David O’Connor, Mike Lynch, Ed Kelly, Daragh Frawley, Noel Kinnane, Ian Condell (capt), Brian Walsh.

Replacements: Joe Bennett, Mark Bromell, James Ryan, Robbie Bourke, Matt McDonald.

SHANNON 18 OLD BELVEDERE 3, Thomond Park main pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Sean McCarthy, Stephen Fitzgerald; Con: Conor Fitzgerald; Pens: Conor Fitzgerald 2
Old Belvedere: Pen: Tim Foley

HT: Shannon 10 Old Belvedere 0

It is beginning to look like old times at Thomond Park where Shannon accounted for Old Belvedere, winning 18-3 to go second in the Division 1B standings.

Munster hooker Duncan Casey, who is returning from a groin injury, started for Tom Hayes’ side who made it back-to-back wins thanks to tries in each half from Sean McCarthy and Stephen Fitzgerald.

Shannon and Belvedere ran out onto Thomond’s main pitch for their first league meeting since February 2013. Both clubs have slipped out of the top flight since then, with ‘Belvo dropping down from Division 1A only a few months ago.

Eddie O’Sullivan, who enjoyed a winning debut against Ballynahinch in round 1, is still rebuilding and reshaping the visitors’ team – he gave a first start to Kiwi out-half Ben Brooking. However, in overcast and blustery conditions in Limerick, they turned around at the break with a 10-point deficit to overcome.

Munster Academy graduate McCarthy barrelled over for a fifth minute try for Shannon, after some nice interplay with centre Will Leonard. Conor Fitzgerald converted for a 7-0 lead.

A knock-on and an overthrown lineout robbed ‘Belvo of a couple of decent opportunities to respond, and they had nothing to show for a further bout of pressure near the half hour mark.

Shannon out-half Conor Fitzgerald clipped over a 36th minute penalty, punishing the visitors for not rolling away. Casey put in a very good shift for 40 minutes before he was replaced for the second half.

Conor Fitzgerald broke the defensive line and chipped through to quickly put Shannon back on the offensive when play resumed. He then sent a 47th minute penalty through the posts, with his older brother, full-back, Stephen, soon breaking from deep on a kick return.

‘Belvo’s first-up tackling, marshalled at close quarters by forwards coach Fergal ‘Stretch’ Walsh (the former Shannon lock), halted the hosts’ momentum. It was an error-strewn third quarter, but McCarthy continued to impress in the loose and the lineout, soaring for a couple of excellent steals.

An offside call allowed place-kicker Tim Foley to take the bare look off the ‘Belvo side of the scoreboard, with 16 minutes remaining. However, Shannon had the final say in injury-time when a quick turnover saw full-back Fitzgerald break clear out wide for a deserved try. 

SHANNON: Stephen Fitzgerald; Nathan Randles, Pa Ryan, Will Leonard, Eathon Moloney; Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Duncan Casey, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Sean McCarthy, Charlie Carmody, Kelvin Brown, Lee Nicholas (capt).

Replacements: Adam Moloney, James Hurley, Luke Moylan, Fionn McGibney, Jack O’Donnell.

OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Chris Carey, David Butler, Tim Foley, Peter Maher; Ben Brooking, Ian Vance; Adam Howard, Ed Rossiter (capt), Declan Lavery, Connor Owende, Fergal Walsh, Karl Miller, Pierce Dargan, Dave Sherry.

Replacements: Andrew McGrath, James McWilliams-Gray, Tony McGuinness, Aaron Sheehan, Shane McDonald.