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Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 2C Review

There are two Limerick clubs in play-off positions after battling wins for Bruff at home to Seapoint and Thomond away to provincial rivals Midleton, while Tullamore lifted themselves off the foot of the table with a determined 23-19 victory up in Omagh.



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Bective Rangers 7 Sligo 17, Donnybrook
Bruff 10 Seapoint 8, Kilballyowen Park
Malahide 29 Bangor 7, Estuary Road
Midleton 23 Thomond 28, Towns Park
Omagh 19 Tullamore 23, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields

Second-placed Bruff extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a battling 10-8 success against Seapoint at Kilballyowen Park. Full-back Brian Fanning, who bagged a brace last time out against Tullamore, crossed for the hosts’ lone try in the 26th minute with David O’Grady kicking the other five points.

Influential winger Darragh O’Neill’s late try steered Thomond back to winning ways as they overcame Midleton 28-23 in a pulsating Munster derby at Towns Park. It was three tries apiece with the Corkmen leading 23-21 when speedster O’Neill, who has now scored seven tries in five rounds, brilliantly struck for the match winner.

The sides’ first league meeting in four seasons saw Thomond lead 16-6 at half-time despite suffering a first half red card. Midleton, who had lost their last two games, showed their mettle with three second half tries from backs Louis Farnham (2) and Rory Horgan, with the last one edging them ahead with five minutes remaining.

However, O’Neill rose to the challenge for the third-placed Soda Cakes, racing through for the decisive try just a few minutes after performing some try-saving heroics at the other end. Try doubles on the day from Cian Coady and O’Neill claimed Thomond’s third try-scoring bonus point of the campaign, moving them to within four points of leaders Sligo.

Ross Mannion’s Sligo side were made to work hard by a gritty Bective before emerging as 17-7 winners at Donnybrook. Rangers had the aid of a first half wind, but trailed 12-0 at half-time after the visitors, whose scrum was on top, scored tries through centre Mike Wells and out-half Mark Butler.

Quick recycling after number 8 Matthew Cosgrove was hauled down short of the line saw half-backs Ryan Feehily and Butler feed Wells for the opening score out wide, while try number two arrived just five minutes later, Butler outpacing the home defence from halfway having combined to telling effect with flanker Diarmuid O’Dowd-Hill.

The second half remained scoreless until a 74th-minute scrum penalty launched Sligo forward and although the lineout did not go to plan, they won the resulting scrum against the head and Cosgrove was able to power over and put 17 points between the sides. The back row combination of Cosgrove, O’Dowd-Hill and captain Shane Boyle has worked really well in the early season.

The table toppers pushed for the bonus point, setting up a similar scrummaging opportunity but crucially losing control of possession at the base. Indeed, Bective took the bare look off their side of the scoreboard with a late surge downfield, Sligo stalling them with a high tackle which gave the hosts a penalty try.

After losing at Seapoint last time out, a dose of home comforts at Estuary Road worked a treat for Malahide as they carved out a 29-7 bonus point triumph over Bangor. A strong start saw lock Cameron Ross twist out of a couple of tackles to touch down in the fifth minute, and out-half Conal Keane converted and swiftly added a penalty.

Those early concessions seemed to bring the best out of Bangor who, despite facing into the wind, improved as the first half wore on. Impressive ball retention saw them force Malahide on the defensive and although Nathan Graham missed a 22nd minute penalty, Jason Morgan’s men felt the 10-point deficit could be overcome in the second period.

However, they had not reckoned on Malahide going up through the gears. The hosts’ bubbly back-line began to carry more of a threat, and with 58 minutes on the clock, a big scrum and quick reactions from flanker Eoin Crowley saw him break through for a converted try straight from a tap penalty.

Bangor cancelled out that effort with a seven-pointer from in-form youngster Lewis Bret, but Malahide winger Marcus McAllister reopened the 17-point lead with a slick individual try in the 68th minute, using scrum possession to chip through on the right wing and gather on the bounce to go over untouched.

As Bangor’s error count increased, the Dubliners, who have climbed back into the top four, pounced in the dying embers of the game for a hard-earned bonus point. They capitalised on a Bangor fumble and rounded the visitors’ defence for back rower Simon Kinsella to score in the corner.

Meanwhile, Tullamore opened their win account at the fifth attempt as they prevailed 23-19 away to the fast-finishing Omagh Accies. First half tries from prop Ger Molloy and assistant coach Lemeki Vaipulu set the Offaly men on their way to a 17-0 half-time lead.

Roared on by their home support at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields, Omagh staged a stirring second half fight-back as they closed the gap back to just 17-14 with 10 minutes remaining. But two penalties from full-back Karl Dunne had Tullamore out of reach again, before captain Stewart McCain’s late try earned Omagh a losing bonus point.