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All-Ireland League Division 2C: Round 3 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2C: Round 3 Review

Five-try Midleton won their top of the table clash with Bangor in Division 2C, with the third round also producing victories for City of Derry, Omagh, Bruff and Ballina who have now won three on the trot following their promotion from the junior ranks. 



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Ballina 20 Malahide 7, Heffernan Park
City of Derry 19 Seapoint 17, Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Midleton 34 Bangor 8, Towns Park
Thomond 13 Omagh 28, Liam Fitzgerald Park
Tullamore 9 Bruff 13, Spollanstown

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.

It was a tale of two halves at Towns Park where Midleton were ruthlessly efficient in capitalising on Bangor’s second half errors to rack 29 unanswered points in a 34-8 bonus point win. Out-half Stuart Lee impressed again with 14 points, bringing his season’s tally to 35 points after three rounds.

Midleton won their own kick-off in a breeze that favoured Bangor first up, and a couple of power-packed drives from their forwards ending with second row Jon Gardiner crashing over for a immediate first-minute try, which went unconverted. The momentum swung to Bangor and they were level by the 25th minute, Nathan Graham sliding over in the right corner after a prolonged period of pressure.

Bangor’s scrum had got on top, leading to a couple of penalties which saw out-half Declan Maguire miss the target with the first and split the posts with his second attempt. That gave them an 8-5 lead at the turnaround, but the loss of Maguire’s half-back partner Liam Preston to a recurring hamstring niggle preceded a nightmare second half for the Seasiders.

Midleton’s Kiwi centre Benji Cottle dotted down to move them back in front, maintaining his try-per-game average so far. The Corkmen entered the final quarter 20-8 to the good as full-back Daniel Murray went over in the left corner, and Lee converted before adding a well-struck penalty. Mistakes blighted Bangor’s game with knock-ons and missed touchfinders.

A poor clearance from the visitors paved the way for a try from Midleton captain Lee, who followed up on a grubber kick to add a further seven points to the hosts’ haul. A fifth and final try arrived in the dying seconds when another Bangor handling error set up winger Maurice Daly to break free for the Red Devils.

Ballina are riding high in second place after defeating Malahide 20-7 in a meeting between the last two All-Ireland Provincial League champions. Winger Richard Rowe marked his senior debut with a predatory try, adding to out-half Kieran Lindsay’s initial score which saw him get over despite three covering tackles.

It was Lindsay’s third try in as many league outings, and he also kicked a penalty and a conversion in a first half performance which was topped off by a terrific team try. After the Mayo men countered from a kick, the forwards provided quick ball and man-of-the-match Calum Quinn took on the Malahide defence, gaining significant ground before releasing captain Fergal Tully to race in under the posts.

Trailing 20-0 at the interval, Malahide lifted their game and showed glimpses of their best attacking form, while ferociously contesting the breakdown and the Ballina lineout. They were met by aggressive defending from the home side who held out until the Dubliners’ player-coach Brendan Guilfoyle crossed the whitewash in the 64th minute.

The end-game was wrapped in tension and some thrilling phases as Ballina chased a bonus point try and Malahide eyed up their own bonus point or a late two-try flurry to pinch the result. There was no further scoring, though, as David Newman and JP Leonard’s charges maintained their winning ways at Heffernan Park.

Young out-half Conall Gill stepped forward as the late goal-kicking hero in City of Derry’s dramatic 19-17 win at home to Seapoint. It was Gill’s tackle which forced a crucial turnover and, just moments later, he sent a scrum penalty from 40-plus metres out through the uprights with the last kick of the game.

Two Gill penalties had closed out the scoring in the first half, giving Paul O’Kane’s youngsters a 13-7 half-time advantage in very wet conditions. Second row Adam Bratton was an 12th-minute try scorer for Derry, burrowing over after Craig Huey had been held up off a close-in lineout.

A similar converted score, in the 19th minute, brought Seapoint level as number 8 Paddy Crown forced his way over from the platform of a lineout. Gill’s reliable right boot nudged Derry back in front, but the hosts fell foul of referee Tim Townend’s whistle at scrum time, a collapsed set piece seeing them leak a penalty try and lose Bratton to the sin-bin.

Seapoint failed to add to their lead, though, and Gill’s 53rd-minute penalty had Derry ahead again (16-14). The roles were soon reversed when Seapoint flanker Tiernan Mealiffe was yellow carded, Derry were unable to capitalise, and up stepped the Dubliners’ Kiwi full-back Bain Champion to land a 70th minute penalty.

Gill then took centre stage, his efforts in defence and from the tee deciding this nip-and-tuck encounter in Derry’s favour. It was tough luck on Eric Miller’s Seapoint team but many in attendance felt they were fortunate to avoid a late penalty try for Declan Byrne’s deliberate knock-on. A yellow card was the only punishment, but Gill ensured that Derry prevailed in the end.

Thomond winger Korey Brown’s 30th-minute try was eclipsed by three second half touchdowns from Omagh who triumphed 28-13 at Liam Fitzgerald Park, while all of the scoring was done in the first half at Spollanstown where Bruff made it two victories on the bounce by taking a 13-9 verdict against Tullamore. 

Bruff scrum half Daniel Jackson nipped through a gap following a series of pick-and-goes to score a 23rd minute try, converted by his half-back partner Tony Cahill who also booted two penalties. Tullamore out-half Karl Dunne fired over a trio of first half penalties, including a tremendous 45-metre effort in the 39th minute.

Both sides left chances behind them in the second period, Tullamore winger Tom Gilligan and number 8 Lemeki Vaipulu being chopped down short of the try-line, and although Bruff, who remain fifth overall, suffered a sin-binning, their defence held out and they had the better of the opportunities during the final quarter.

– Photos from Bangor RFC & Corinne Beattie Photography (Ballina RFC)