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Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ulster Bank League: Division 1B Review

Ballynahinch and Old Wesley were the movers in Ulster Bank League Division 1B over the weekend, climbing to second and eighth place respectively, while Shannon won their top of the table clash with Banbridge in clinical fashion.



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BALLYMENA 34 UCC 35, Eaton Park
Scorers: Ballymena: Tries: Angus Kernohan 2, James Taggart, Connor Smyth; Cons: Brett Herron 4; Pens: Brett Herron 2
UCC: Tries: Richard Walsh, Daire Feeney, Penalty try, Murray Linn; Cons: James Taylor 2, Penalty try con; Pens: James Taylor 3

HT: Ballymena 13 UCC 15

UCC remain hot on the heels of the top four after pipping Ballymena in an absorbing eight-try encounter at Eaton Park. Centre Murray Linn’s 63rd-minute try, coupled with James Taylor’s third successful penalty, saw the Cork students prevail despite a late rally from the hosts.

Ballymena touched down late in both halves, including tries in the 80th and 84th minutes which earned them two bonus points, but it was not enough to derail the visitors who have now won three matches on the trot after a difficult start to the season.

Out-halves Brett Herron and Taylor traded penalties inside the first six minutes before UCC right winger Richard Walsh caught Taylor’s beautifully-struck cross-field kick for a 11th minute try – his second score in the space of a week.

Ulster young gun Herron replied with his second penalty from far out, but the home side failed to score from a period of intense pressure deep in UCC territory. Indeed, when an attack broke down, the visitors’ openside flanker Daire Feeney picked up possession and charged clear for a superb solo try, with Ballymena guilty of some poor tackling. UCC were now 15-6 to the good.

Two points was the margin at the break, though, as the Braidmen bounced back with teenage centre Angus Kernohan’s first league score. The Ireland Under-18 Sevens captain chipped ahead and profited from UCC full-back Alex Molloy’s failure to control the ball as he swooped in for a try converted by Herron.

The lead changed hands early on the resumption, a bout of pressure from the Ballymena forwards ending with hooker James Taggart crashing over, before UCC hit back with a penalty try via a lineout drive for a 22-20 scoreline.

The scores suddenly dried up for Andy Graham’s side, though, as UCC built some crucial momentum in the middle part of the second half. Taylor increased his influence with two well-struck penalties, either side of Linn’s try from some hard straight running from the backs. The extras were added by Taylor, the former CBC starlet, who now has an impressive 67 points to his name after six rounds.

In the last few minutes, Ballymena suddenly looked revitalised as lock Connor Smyth and Kernohan both crossed the whitewash in quick succession and Herron swept over the two conversions. However, time ran out on their comeback bid as the Braidmen, who lost by one point and two points in last season’s two clashes with the students, fell to their fourth defeat of the current campaign.

BALLYMENA: Rodger McBurney; Dean Reynolds, Angus Kernohan, Glenn Baillie, Jonny Rosborough; Brett Herron, Michael Stronge; Nacho Cladera Crespo, James Taggart, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Marcus Rea, Matthew Agnew, Stephen Mulholland.

Replacements: Andrew Ferguson, Scott Agnew, Mark Foster, Joe Thompson, Matthew Norris.

UCC: Alex Molloy; Richard Walsh, Cian Bohane, Murray Linn, James Kiernan; James Taylor, John Poland; Shane O’Hanlon, John Hodnett, Rob O’Donovan, Cian Barry, Darragh Moloney, Ben Mitchell, Daire Feeney, Ryan Murphy (capt).

Replacements: Tadhg McCarthy, Bryan O’Connor, Jack O’Sullivan, Paul Kiernan, Rory Slater.

BALLYNAHINCH 18 NAAS 10, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: David Busby, Peter Browne; Con: Aaron Cairns; Pens: Richard Reaney, Aaron Cairns
Naas: Try: Michael Skelton; Con: Peter Osborne; Pen: Peter Osborne

HT: Ballynahinch 8 Naas 10

Fresh from starting for Ulster last week, Aaron Cairns captained Ballynahinch to a hard-fought 18-10 victory over Naas at Ballymacarn Park. The scrum half kicked five points and watched his provincial colleagues, David Busby and Peter Browne, both cross the whitewash.

Cairns’ own 80th-minute penalty put the seal on ‘Hinch’s fourth win in five rounds, which has seen them move into second place in the table, while Naas’ fourth successive reversal leaves them sixth overall and with ground to make up on their promotion rivals.

Busby and Naas centre Michael Skelton showed their finishing skills when exchanging tries after 18 and 28 minutes respectively. Naas, who had been dominating both possession and territory, were rocked when they made a mess of a high ball inside their half and it broke for Stuart Morrow and he fed Busby who sprinted clear to score in the corner.

Morrow was involved again soon after as his break led to a penalty for not rolling away, and Richard Reaney nailed the straightforward kick for 8-3. A timely seven-pointer shot Johne Murphy’s men back in front, as Fionn Higgins’ brilliantly angled run off a lineout carved open the defence and he linked with Skelton who went over untouched, close to the posts.

The accurate place-kicking of full-back Peter Osborne, who had booted a brilliant early penalty from halfway and converted Skelton’s effort, gave the Kildare men a slim lead after a bruising and fiercely competitive first half – 10-8.

Murphy’s charges took up the baton when play resumed, their larger pack wreaking havoc at scrum time and referee Shane Kierans was quick on his whistle. Nonetheless, they opted to turn down a couple of kicks at the posts in favour of pursuing a second try which remained frustratingly out of reach.

‘Hinch were able to absorb the pressure, although they did lose replacement back rower Aaron Hall to a yellow card for the hosts’ repeated ruck infringements. Entering the final quarter, and out of nowhere, a break by Ballynahinch out-half James McBriar set up a try scoring opportunity for Zack McCall, but he knocked on with the line beckoning.

The respite for Naas did not last long. Almost immediately, Conall Boomer broke from the base of a scrum to offload to McBriar who released replacement winger Callum McLaughlin. He danced through the Naas defence only to be tackled short of the line by Osborne. ‘Hinch recycled possession from the ruck and the scrum-capped Browne used his bulk to cross from the pick-up.

Cairns added the extras to the 63rd minute try and Ballynahinch led 15-10. He even took a deserved losing bonus point away from the tiring visitors, the Ireland Sevens international’s late three-pointer – awarded after Donal Droney was pinged for not releasing – being a real kick in the teeth at the end of a match in which Naas had contributed handsomely.

BALLYNAHINCH: Conor Kelly; Richard Reaney, Stuart Morrow, Rory Butler, David Busby; James McBriar, Aaron Cairns (capt); Campbell Classon, Zack McCall, Zac Cinnamon, Peter Browne, Jack Regan, Keith Dickson, Ollie Loughead, Conall Boomer.

Replacements: Claytan Milligan, Ben Cullen, Aaron Hall, Rhys O’Donnell, Callum McLaughlin.

NAAS: Peter Osborne; Fionn Higgins, Donal Droney, Michael Skelton, Peter Howard; Johne Murphy, Cathal Murtagh; Jordan Duggan, Charlie Kings, Jason Harney, Stephen Kinneavy, David Benn (capt), Paul Monahan, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Graham Reynolds, Stephen Lackey, Warren Larkin, Max Whittingham, Shane Thompstone.

Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Ed Rossiter, Jack Kelly; Con: Tim Foley; Pens: Tim Foley 2
UL Bohemians: Try: James Ryan; Con: Robbie Bourke; Pens: Robbie Bourke 2

HT: Old Belvedere 8 UL Bohemians 6

Captain Ed Rossiter led by example with an important try in Old Belvedere’s hard-earned 18-13 win over UL Bohemians at Anglesea Road. They maintained their presence in the top four, with only two points currently separating the teams placed from second to fifth.

Having lost their last two games, UL Bohs were determined to bounce back and they got off to a solid start thanks to out-half Robbie Bourke’s 23rd-minute penalty. However, experienced hooker Rossiter barrelled over five minutes later to score the game’s opening try.

Bourke and Tim Foley, Old Belvedere’s goal-kicking centre, traded penalties just before half-time, leaving ‘Belvo 8-6 ahead after a nip-and-tuck 40 minutes. Foley’s influence grew with a 55th minute penalty, as the visitors’ indiscipline let them down.

Eddie O’Sullivan’s home side pressed on and with their forwards building through the phases, lock Jack Kelly was able to strike for a crucial second try. Foley’s conversion made it 18-6 and that cushion proved just enough in the end as ‘Belvo had to survive a frantic finish.

Bohs flanker James Ryan kept up his enviable try-scoring rate with his fourth of the current campaign, but they could and perhaps should have registered the match-winning score in the dying minutes. They mounted a furious late assault on the Belvedere line, only to be held up short on multiple occasions. Despite the losing bonus point, Christy Neilan’s charges have fallen into the bottom two.

OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Shane McDonald, David Butler, Tim Foley, Chris Carey; Pat Hughes, Aaron Sheehan; Omar Dahir, Ed Rossiter (capt), Declan Lavery, Connor Owende, Jack Kelly, Diarmuid Kennedy, Pierce Dargan, Dave Sherry.

Replacements: Andrew McGrath, Adam Howard, Karl Miller, Ian Vance, Tom Moloney.

UL BOHEMIANS: Mike Mullally; Jamie McNamara, Adrian Enright, Harry Fleming, Shane Scannell; Robbie Bourke, Rob Hennessy; Joey Conway, Joe Bennett, Mike Lynch, Noel Kinnane, Daragh Frawley (capt), James Ryan, Darragh O’Grady, Brian Walsh.

Replacements: David O’Connor, Padraig Nesbitt, Sean English, Matt McDonald, Conor Gilmore.

OLD WESLEY 34 DOLPHIN 5, Donnybrook
Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Tim Clifford, Eoghan O’Reilly, Jack Maybury 2, Tommy O’Callaghan; Cons: Jack Maybury 3; Pen: Jack Maybury
Dolphin: Try: Ian O’Donoghue

HT: Old Wesley 17 Dolphin 0

Young full-back Jack Maybury weighed in with another top-scoring tally as Old Wesley defeated Dolphin 34-5 at Donnybrook to post their first win of the Division 1B campaign.

Maybury scored 22 points in their loss to UCC last week and he notched 19 in Saturday’s basement battle, touching down twice and kicking three conversions and a penalty. Tries from Eoghan O’Reilly, Tim Clifford and Tommy O’Callaghan, with his third of the season, completed the rout.

Bottom side Dolphin were up against it right from the opening minutes, David Poff’s early break leading to Maybury scoring in the corner. Winger O’Reilly added the second try out wide after Wesley had moved the ball at pace from a tap penalty, five metres out.

Maybury converted out-half Clifford’s try as the home side pushed 17 points clear for half-time, with Dolphin struggling to gain a foothold and Wesley notably winning the scrum battle. Maybury rifled over an early second half penalty from just inside halfway to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Dolphin then enjoyed their best spell of the match, taking advantage of a Conor Maguire yellow card to work Wesley through 15-plus phases in their 22. The net result was a try in the corner from centre Ian O’Donoghue, which gave his side some hope at 20-5 down.

However, once they were back to their full complement, Wesley sewed up the result with two more tries. Centre James O’Donovan’s kick was blocked into touch but his quickly-taken lineout caught Dolphin out and put Maybury darting over to complete his brace and register first try-scoring bonus point of the league’s opening rounds.

There was still time for winger O’Callaghan to get in on the scoring act again, the Wesley backs using scrum ball to tee up a well-worked move which saw the strong-running Ireland Under-18 Sevens international, who joined Wesley from Lansdowne this season, make it a 29-point winning margin.

OLD WESLEY: Jack Maybury; Eoghan O’Reilly, James O’Donovan, David Poff, Tommy O’Callaghan; Tim Clifford, Aaron Atkinson; Cronin Gleeson, Conor Maguire, James Burton, JJ O’Dea, Donnchadh Phelan, Darren Horan (capt), Stephen Boyle, Kieran Murphy.

Replacements: Craig Telford, David Henshaw, John Fitzgerald, Cillian Monahan, Richie Jermyn.

DOLPHIN: Sam Kennedy; Colin Sisk, Cian McGovern, Ian O’Donoghue, Will Hanly; Barry Keeshan (capt), Daryl Foley; Liam Walsh, David Byrne, Darren Collins, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahony, Barry Fitzgerald, Kevin Allen, Kevin O’Leary.

Replacements: Caolan O’Flynn, John Leahy, Alex Denby, James Vaughan, Killian O’Keeffe, Jimmy Aherne, Alan O’Sullivan.

SHANNON 33 BANBRIDGE 14, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Eathon Moloney, Duncan Casey 2, Nathan Randles, Conor Fitzgerald; Cons: Conor Fitzgerald 4
Banbridge: Tries: Robin Sinton, Stephen Irvine; Cons: Robert Lyttle 2

HT: Shannon 21 Banbridge 7

Shannon swept seven points clear at the top of the Division 1B ladder after proving too strong for Banbridge in Saturday’s top of the table clash on Thomond Park’s back pitch.

Munster hooker Duncan Casey scored two of the hosts’ five tries in a determined team display, while Ulster youngster Robert Lyttle converted a try in each half from Bann’s Robin Sinton and Stephen Irvine. The visitors missed the presence of scrum half and captain Ian Porter who was unavailable due to family commitments.

The deadlock was broken by Shannon winger Eathon Moloney in the 12th minute, his wing colleague Nathan Randles thwarting a dangerous Banbridge move before Moloney intercepted a pass on halfway and scooted clear for Conor Fitzgerald to convert.

Bann replied just six minutes later, turnover ball seeing them attack out wide before a change of direction opened up space for lock Sinton to score in the corner. Lyttle’s well-struck conversion tied things up at seven points apiece.

Shannon restored their lead on the half hour mark when twice kicking to the corner from penalties. Casey was the man to ground the ball after a well-executed drive, and Tom Hayes’ men repeated the trick in the 40th minute as the league leaders took a 21-7 lead into the break.

Captain Lee Nicholas and Stephen Fitzgerald combined off the back of a close-in scrum to send Randles over in the right corner for a 52nd-minute bonus point score, Conor Fitzgerald missing the conversion but Bann had it all to do with 19 points now the difference.

Knock-ons spoiled promising attacks for both sides but improved continuity from the Co. Down outfit saw them pin Shannon back. Their backs increased their running threat, including in-form centre Andrew Morrison, before number 8 Irvine broke from a five-metre scrum to score and lift his team-mates at 26-14 down.

It was promising young out-half Conor Fitzgerald who closed out the win for the Limerick men, getting his boot to a loose ball in the 77th minute, gathering it and going in under the posts. The conversion took his season’s tally to 78 points already, ahead of next week’s possible duel with Naas player-coach Johne Murphy at number 10.

SHANNON: Stephen Fitzgerald; Nathan Randles, Jack O’Donnell, Will Leonard, Eathon Moloney; Conor Fitzgerald, Jack Stafford; Conor Glynn, Duncan Casey, Ciaran Parker, Ronan Coffey, Sean McCarthy, Charlie Carmody, Kelvin Brown, Lee Nicholas (capt).

Replacements: Jordan Prenderville, Tony Cusack, John Foley, Pa Ryan, Fionn McGibney.

BANBRIDGE: Robert Lyttle; Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Johnny Little, Ben Carson; Adam Doherty, Josh Cromie; Eric O’Sullivan, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Chris Allen, Robin Sinton, Greg Jones, Nick Hayes, Stephen Irvine.

Replacements: Jonny Weir, Stuart Cromie, Tom O’Toole, Johnny Graham, Andrew Kirkwood.

Match Photos:

Old Wesley v Dolphin – Deryck Vincent
Ballynahinch v Naas – Hugh Wilkinson