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All-Ireland League Division 1B: Round 1 Review

All-Ireland League Division 1B: Round 1 Review

Division 1B got off to a score-laden start on Saturday with 32 tries registered across the opening five games, including Old Belvedere’s 10-try clash with Banbridge in Andy Kenny’s first All-Ireland League outing as head coach.


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Scorers: Ballymena: –
Malone: Tries: Josh Pentland 2, Matthew Hadden; Cons: Jack Milligan 3; Pens: Jack Milligan, Callum Smith

HT: Ballymena 0 Malone 17

A bonus point try was all that was missing from Malone’s terrific start to life in All-Ireland League Division 1B. Centre Josh Pentland’s first half brace laid the platform for their 27-point triumph over well-beaten Ulster rivals Ballymena at Eaton Park.

Assistant coach Pentland led by example with two tries in a 14-minute spell, including an early contender for All-Ireland League Try of the Month. He picked up possession on the visitors’ 10-metre line, darting in between some forwards and arcing away from full-back Scott Willoughby. He evaded a tackle from a diving Jonny McMullan and brought Michael Stronge with him over the whitewash as he finished off a superb solo try in the left corner.

Malone’s new full-back Jack Mulligan, who signed from Queen’s University, brought his kicking boots as he landed both conversions and a 34th minute penalty – redeeming himself for a prior miss – to give the Cregagh Red Sox a 17-0 half-time advantage, while misfiring Ballymena looked to regroup.

Despite the best efforts of returning out-half Tim Small and number 8 Stephen Mulholland, the Braidmen continued to be held scoreless and their discipline spoiled some promising phases for them. After Callum Smith landed a penalty to increase Malone’s lead, both sides suffered yellow cards and it was left to replacement Matthew Hadden to wrap up the points for Paddy Armstrong’s men with a 75th minute try.

BALLYMENA: Scott Willoughby; Mark Thompson, Darrell Montgomery, Glenn Baillie, Jonny McMullan; Tim Small, Michael Stronge; Nacho Cladera Crespo, Jonny Spence, Chris Cundell, David Whann, JJ McKee, Connor Smyth, Willie McKay, Stephen Mulholland.

Replacements: James Taggart, Josh Bill, Matthew Dick, Matthew Norris, Jordan Foster, James Wheeler.

MALONE: Jack Milligan; David Irvine, Josh Pentland, Nathan Brown, David McMaster; Callum Smith, Connor Spence; Ben Halliday, Dan Kerr, Ricky Greenwood, Jonathan Davis, James McAlister, Michael Shiels, Ross Todd (capt), Ryan Clarke.

Replacements: Scott Finlay, Lee Barlow, Matthew Hadden, Jack McMurtry, Gareth Millar.

BUCCANEERS 13 NAAS 36, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Try: Colm Reilly; Con: Michael Hanley; Pens: Michael Hanley 2
Naas: Tries: Peter Hastie, Andrew Ellis 2, Peter Osborne, Cathal Duff; Cons: Peter Osborne 4; Pen: Peter Osborne

HT: Buccaneers 10 Naas 12

Peter Osborne top-scored with 16 points and his new half-back partner Peter Hastie also touched down in Naas’ eye-catching 36-13 bonus point success away to Buccaneers, who dropped down from Division 1A at the end of last season.

Buccs gave league debuts to four players, including teenage half-backs Michael Hanley and Colm Reilly, but Osborne and Hastie, the ex-Lansdowne out-half, were in match-winning form as Johne Murphy’s men slotted in at the top of the table after round 1.

Hastie’s unconverted score after two minutes opened the scoring, before Osborne reacted swiftly to deny Rory O’Connor a try from Callum Boland’s chip through. Hanley made it 5-3 with a well-struck penalty from the 10-metre line, but big Naas winger Andrew Ellis took advantage of some poor tackling to run in a 26th-minute converted try.

A strong run from captain Rory Moloney earned the Pirates a penalty in response, and scrum half Reilly’s quick tap caught Naas napping as he notched their first try, converted by Hanley. However, the visitors held on to lead 12-10 at the break, with Boland denied at close quarters by a combination of Fionn Higgins and Ross Bailey-Kearney after O’Connor had taken a quick lineout.

Hanley punished a high tackle to edge Buccs in front in the 42nd minute, but that proved to their final score in Peter O’Donnell’s first league match at the helm. They lost hooker John Sutton to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul, and the game suddenly got away from the Athlone side as Naas racked up the points.

Osborne broke from a scrum to register a 49th minute try which he converted himself. Despite losing returning prop Adam Coyle to the bin, Naas pocketed their bonus point when Ellis powered over for his second score with Osborne converting and adding a 70th minute penalty. Buccaneers’ new lock Torin Rensford saw yellow for a clumsy tackle in the closing stages and replacement Cathal Duff’s maul try completed the scoring.

BUCCANEERS: Graham Lynch; Rory O’Connor, Callum Boland, Aidan Wynne, Darragh Corbett; Michael Hanley, Colm Reilly; Niall Farrelly, John Sutton, Martin Staunton, Robin Rensford, Evan Galvin, Owen Treacy, Rory Moloney (capt), Simon Meagher.

Replacements: Harry O’Reilly, Eoghan Maher, Ross Flanagan, Frankie Hopkins, Thomas McGann.

NAAS: Fionn Higgins; Andy Ellis, Fionn Carr, Ross Bailey-Kearney, Johne Murphy; Peter Hastie, Peter Osborne; Conor Doyle, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Mike Russell, David Benn, Cillian Dempsey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua (capt).

Replacements: Cathal Duff, Jack Barry, Ryan Casey, Pierce Dargan, Rob Campbell.

CITY OF ARMAGH 17 OLD WESLEY 22, Palace Grounds
Scorers: City of Armagh: Tries: Andrew Smyth, Ryan Purvis, Gerard Treanor; Con: Cormac Fox
Old Wesley: Tries: Paul Harte 2, Tom Kiersey; Cons: Rory Stynes 2; Pen: Rory Stynes

HT: City of Armagh 0 Old Wesley 12

City of Armagh, the divisional newcomers, and Old Wesley shared out six tries in an entertaining first round tussle which ended 22-17 in the Dubliners’ favour at the Palace Grounds.

Wesley captain Paul Harte crossed twice in the first half to set his side on the way to an encouraging victory, although Armagh could easily have stolen a march on them with two early missed try-scoring chances. Andrew Willis narrowly missed out on a kick-chase try after only a few seconds, while Armagh failed to convert a three-on-two overlap when Wesley’s Charlie O’Regan intercepted five metres out.

The first 30 minutes went by without a score, Wesley gradually gaining a foothold with their back row of JJ O’Dea, Stephen Boyle and Paul Derham increasing their influence. The deadlock was broken when winger Harte handed off a couple of defenders to grab his first try. His second followed virtually from the restart, as David Poff profited from a missed tackle, Tommy O’Callaghan took play into the 22 and Harte popped up to go in under the posts.

Rory Stynes converted for a 12-0 half-time lead, and then tagged on a 58th minute penalty in response to hooker Andrew Smyth’s opening try for Armagh. Two penalties pushed the hosts deep into Wesley territory and Smyth drove over on the end of a lineout maul. Right on the hour mark, Armagh used their own set piece platform to set up winger Ryan Purvis for a five-pointer out wide, cutting the gap to 15-10.

Crucially, Morgan Lennon’s side gave themselves a match-winning cushion in the 72nd minute when Harte cut through a static Armagh defence and new out-half Tom Kiersey applied the finishing touches to a sweeping move by going over in the corner. Full-back Stynes swung over the touchline conversion in impressive fashion for 22-10.

Armagh showed their battling qualities to make sure they gained a bonus point from their first league outing. With two minutes remaining, they again advanced through a driving maul and scrum half Gerard Treanor grounded the ball for Fox to convert. Wesley wrestled back possession, though, and were able to wind down the clock to confirm their five-point victory.

Armagh assistant coach Chris Parker said: “This was a huge challenge for the boys today and while we are disappointed not to secure a win, we’ll learn from this fixture. Old Wesley were much more clinical in taking their opportunities and we need to step up at this level and convert pressure into points.”

CITY OF ARMAGH: Chris Cousens; Andrew Willis, Chris Colvin (capt), Evin Crummie, Ryan Purvis; Cormac Fox, Gerard Treanor; Daryl Morton, Andrew Smyth, Paul Mullan, Josh McKinley, Peter Starrett, Robbie Whitten, Nigel Simpson, James Hanna.

Replacements: Jonathan Morton, Phillip Fletcher, Gareth McNiece, Stuart Lester, Tim McNiece.

OLD WESLEY: Rory Stynes; Tommy O’Callaghan, Bill Corrigan, David Poff, Paul Harte (capt); Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan; Harry Noonan, Andrew McCrann, James Burton, Donnchadh Phelan, Iain McGann, JJ O’Dea, Stephen Boyle, Paul Derham.

Replacements: Padraig Cullen, Sam Kenny, Josh Pim, Alan Gaughan, Josh Miller.

Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: Jack Keating 3, Karl Miller, Jamie McAleese, Steve Crosbie; Cons: Steve Crosbie 6
Banbridge: Tries: Peter Cromie 2, Adam Ervine 2; Cons: Adam Doherty 4

HT: Old Belvedere 28 Banbridge 7

Former Greystones winger Jack Keating enjoyed a memorable league debut for Old Belvedere as his hat-trick of tries helped them to a 42-28 bonus point win over Banbridge at Anglesea Road.

This match-up brought together two new head coaches, Belvedere’s Andy Kenny and Simon McKinstry of Banbridge, and Kenny would have been much the happier at half-time with the hosts leading 28-7. Led by new player-backs coach Steve Crosbie at out-half, the hosts had three tries on the board inside the opening 16 minutes.

Right winger Keating scorched in for two rapid tries before flanker Karl Miller found an unopposed run through the Banbridge midfield to score under the posts from 40 metres out. Crosbie, who has spent time with Leinster, Munster and Connacht in recent seasons, tapped over the straightforward, adding to his two excellent early efforts from the touchline.

Banbridge built through the phases in response, working their way into position for hooker Peter Cromie to make it over in the left corner. Matching Crosbie’s dead-eye place-kicking from out wide, full-back Adam Doherty swung over a cracking conversion for a full seven-point return.

Nonetheless, Keating secured the hosts’ bonus point with another jet-heeled surge out wide as he left the Bann cover trailing in his wake. The hat-trick hero turned creator just two minutes into the second half as he attacked out of his 22 with the move leading to another of ‘Belvo’s new recruits, centre Jamie McAleese, touching down for Crosbie to convert.

Trailing 35-7, The Co. Down outfit lifted their game again and got on the front foot, boosted by a 65th-minute converted try from winger Adam Ervine. Belvedere’s defence came under increasing pressure and they picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute, after which Cromie completed his brace from close range.

Bann’s late momentum had them on the cusp of earning two bonus points, but Crosbie closed the door on one of them when Bann passed loosely from a quick tap and the 25-year-old out-half hoovered it up to run in untouched to the posts, adding the conversion once more to top off his 17-point tally.

Credit to Banbridge, they made sure they finished the match with a hard-earned bonus point try through Ervine, and Doherty made it an impressive ten conversions out of ten for both kickers. Giving his reaction afterwards, Bann boss McKinstry said: “We looked good when we had the ball, we just didn’t win enough of it. But it’s the first hit-out – it’s not the end of the world and we will get better.

“Belvedere came out of the blocks much quicker than us. After that I was pretty pleased with how we went. We stuck at it well, fought back and scored four tries for a bonus point that may be valuable come the end of the season.”

OLD BELVEDERE: Daniel Riordan; Jack Keating, David Butler, Jamie McAleese, Chris Carey; Steve Crosbie (capt), Peter O’Beirne; Adam Howard, John McKee, Declan Lavery, Jack Kelly, Eoin Sweeney, Karl Miller, Tom de Jongh, Colin Mallon.

Replacements: Killian O’Neill, Roman Salanoa, Connor Owende, Darragh Henry, Joe White, Darragh Higgins, Fergus Flood.

BANBRIDGE: Adam Doherty; Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Adam Ervine (capt); Josh Cromie, Niall Armstrong; Jonathan Weir, Peter Cromie, Ross Haughey, Chris Allen, Michael Bentley, David McCann, Ethan Harbinson, Stephen Irvine.

Replacements: Paul Ross, Andrew Jackson, Matthew Laird, Aaron Kennedy, Ben Carson.

Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Liam Corcoran, Sean Kearns, Marcus O’Driscoll, Cormac Foley; Cons: Sean Kearns 4; Pens: Sean Kearns 3
Ballynahinch: Tries: Zack McCall, Rhys O’Donnell, Conor Piper; Cons: Hilton Gibbons 3; Pen: Hilton Gibbons 2

HT: St. Mary’s College 20 Ballynahinch 10

Young replacement scrum half Cormac Foley finished off a series of drives with the clinching 77th-minute try as St. Mary’s College outlasted Ballynahinch in a 37-27 bonus point victory at Templeville Road.

Foley’s score was the last in a fast-paced and highly competitive fixture, but Ballynahinch will rue how they relinquished an early 10-point lead and then failed with their last bonus point hunt which included three lineouts in promising positions. There was not much fault with their start, however, as half-backs Hilton Gibbons and Rhys O’Donnell guided them into a 10-0 lead.

New Zealander Gibbons kicked a third minute penalty and converted O’Donnell’s 12th-minute try from a clever close range snipe. Ulster released Zack McCall and Lewis Finlay for play for ‘Hinch, with the former starting in the front row, while Tom Martin made his first league start in a second row missing the injured John Donnan.

Mary’s found their rhythm in the lead up to half-time, with influential out-half Sean Kearns opening their account with penalties after 16 and 30 minutes. Following up on a strong burst by prop Tom O’Reilly, Kearns weaved through the ‘Hinch defence for a terrific try to edge the hosts in front.

Steven Hennessy’s charges led 20-10 at the break, their new captain Marcus O’Driscoll combining with his centre partner Craig Kennedy off a 38th minute lineout to straighten his run, charge through two defenders and score under the posts. Liam Corcoran, who had evergreen former skipper Gareth Logan alongside him in the engine room, then dived over for a 45th minute try following a series of pick and goes.

Both sides were let down by missed tackles and another couple of them allowed McCall to double ‘Hinch’s try tally, with Gibbons converting and adding a penalty to put seven points between them – 27-20. A timely and well-struck penalty from Kearns moved it back to 10, but a yellow card left Mary’s down a man and the visitors profited with replacement Conor Piper’s converted try in the corner from a maul.

With the Mary’s pack taking up the challenge in the closing stages, they provided the platform for talented youngster Foley to wriggle over for the game’s crucial score. It was skilfully converted by 22-point star Kearns whose accuracy with ball in hand and from the tee was a real thorn in Ballynahinch’s side.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Dave Fanagan; Mark Fogarty, Craig Kennedy, Marcus O’Driscoll (capt), Conor Toolan; Sean Kearns, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Michael McCormack, Gareth Logan, Liam Corcoran, Daragh McDonnell, David Aspil, Mark Fallon.

Replacements: Stephen O’Brien, Colm McMahon, Max Kennedy, Cormac Foley, Ruairi Shields, Padraig Dundon, Hugo Conway.

BALLYNAHINCH: Patrick Wright; Connor Phillips, Callum McLaughlin, Ryan Wilson, Aaron Cairns (capt); Hilton Gibbons, Rhys O’Donnell; Campbell Classon, Zack McCall, Kelvin Hamilton, James Simpson, Tom Martin, Keith Dickson, Ollie Loughead, Conall Boomer.

Replacements: Conor Piper, Ben Cullen, Gareth Gill, Richard Reaney, Lewis Finlay.

– Photos from Darrell O’Kane Photography (Ballymena), Kevin Smith (Malone) & Ken Redpath (Armagh)