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All-Ireland League Division 2B: Round 2 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2B: Round 2 Review

MU Barnhall hold a two-point lead at the top of All-Ireland League Division 2B after holding off Skerries in a thrilling 14-try clash at Holmpatrick. Sligo and Wanderers chalked up their first wins, both bagging bonus points against Ulster opposition.



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Belfast Harlequins 12 Sunday’s Well 15, Deramore Park
Greystones 33 Corinthians 7, Dr. Hickey Park
Rainey Old Boys 12 Wanderers 26, Hatrick Park
Sligo 33 Dungannon 25, Hamilton Park
Skerries 44 MU Barnhall 49, Holmpatrick (played on Friday)

Clubs are invited to post the best tries from their All-Ireland League fixtures on the club’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages using the hashtag #AILTry and tag @irishrugby. The scorer of #AILTry of the Month will receive a voucher for €;250 and each of the monthly winners will be entered into the #AILTry of the Season competition.

Sunday’s Well extended their unbeaten run in the All-Ireland League to nine matches, stretching back to last February, as they overturned a half-time deficit to beat Belfast Harlequins 15-12 at Deramore Park.

Harlequins had won their previous six games and hit the front courtesy of hooker Saul Herdman’s 18th-minute try, which stood as a defence-dominated first half’s only score. In a very tough and intense battle, tough tackling and some bruising phases made it difficult for either attack to get into a flow.

Aided by the superior scrum where props Michael Moynihan and Evan O’Connell got on top, the ‘Well gradually found a way to break through the hosts’ robust defence. Conor O’Brien attacked the blindside of a scrum and scrum half Peter Arigho sparked some terrific handling to move the ball out to the opposite wing where Ryan Buckley’s angle of running and brilliantly-timed pass released centre James Kiernan to finish off in the corner.

Having struck a post with his difficult conversion attempt, winger Peter O’Brien followed up with a penalty from inside the 22 to move the Corkmen ahead at 8-7. Harlequins snapped back with an unconverted 65th-minute try, wearing down the defence for full-back Mark Glover to squeeze over.

However, Sunday’s Well showed their mettle to force a match-winning score just three minutes later. Influential number 8 Conor O’Brien went close to running in what would have been a superb solo try from halfway, but from a big shove at the resulting scrum, the same player was denied his opportunity of a try from the base and referee Paul Haycock reacted by awarding a penalty try.

Greystones also maintained their winning start to the new Division 2B campaign with a 33-7 bonus point triumph at home to Corinthians. They crammed in 26 points in the first half with summer signing Ian Cullinane and Padraig Geoghegan scoring tries, the latter with his second in the space of a week, and captain Andrew Kealy kicking four penalties, including a thumping effort from outside his own 10-metre line with the wind behind him.

Michael Doyle broke through midfield to add a third try for ‘Stones but a combination of the elements, and a reinforced Corinthians defence, prevent them from securing a closing bonus point. Corinthians’ Connacht rivals Sligo registered their first win – a 33-25 defeat of Dunngannon – to move into the top half of the table.

Paddy Pearson’s men outscored ‘Gannon by five tries to four at Hamilton Park, having led 19-15 at half-time. A vital defensive stand through a series of Dungannon scrums late in the first half was a key moment for Sligo, who had trailed 8-0 due to Matthew Montgomery’s seventh-minute opener and a Lucca Avelli penalty.

With returning centre Mata Fifita and flanker Matt Davey standing out for their impact in open play, the home side landed their first blow with a well-worked 15th-minute move resulting in a converted try from co-captain Ryan Feehily. Blindside Shane Boyle joined him on the scoresheet ten minutes later, barging over off the back of a lineout maul with full-back Niall Gray nailing a very tough conversion.

Sligo kept up the momentum to move 19-8 ahead when Fifita made space for Kiwi winger Calum Goddard to scorch away for try number three. Dungannon regrouped and notched two tries either side of half-time, hooker Daniel Maxwell crossing from a maul and French lock Guilhem Lopez taking advantage of a yellow card following further scrum pressure.

That gave the Tyrone men a 20-19 lead but Sligo answered back swiftly when centre Feehily intercepted a long pass in the 22 and darted in under the posts for the bonus point try. Ireland Under-20 prop Kuba Wojtkowicz used a 68th-minute maul to drive over and make it 33-20. There was still time for ‘Gannon to salvage a bonus point through tighthead Sean O’Hagan out wide.

Newly-promoted Sligo are on the road to table toppers MU Barnhall this coming Saturday, with the Blue Bulls already racking up 85 points and 14 tries so far. An incredible final scoreline of 49-44 saw Barnhall come away with a hard-earned five points from Skerries’ Holmpatrick ground on Friday night.

In-form flanker Paul Nalty and winger Conor Lacey both bagged braces, while full-back Eoghain Quinn also added to an early penalty try as Barnhall built a 34-18 half-time lead over the Goats. Openside Andrew Purcell took the visitors past the 40-point mark, but his back row colleague Tom McKeown’s sin-binning invited Skerries back into the contest.

The home support’s hopes of a stunning comeback victory were raised significantly when Skerries notched three quick-fire tries – the last of them from scrum half Ruairi Woods in the corner – to go from 41-18 behind to just 41-39 down. A Nathan Veltom try and a penalty from fellow replacement Stephen Dwyer steadied the ship for Barnhall, before Eoghan Carron, one of Skerries’ lively reserves, crossed in the last minute to notch his side’s sixth try and their second bonus point of the night.

Strong finishes to both halves saw Wanderers hand a first league victory to their new head coach Patrick Collins, away to Rainey Old Boys (26-12). Number 8 Paddy Mallon’s 29th-minute try from a lineout maul gave the visitors a 14-12 lead at the turnaround, responding to Rainey’s two tries from full-back Michael O’Neill and back rower Michael McCusker.

Rainey, who also lost in the opening round, were unable to score while Wanderers prop Diarmuid Higgins was in the sin-bin for a dangerous clear-out. Instead, it was Wanderers who took the spoils in bonus point-winning fashion. Second row Tom Walsh crashed over from close range in the 65th minute, and centre Marty Ryan made it over in the corner with three minutes remaining.

– Photos from Jean O’Connell (Sligo RFC), Dungannon RFC, Skerries RFC & MU Barnhall RFC