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All-Ireland League Division 2B: Round 5 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2B: Round 5 Review

MU Barnhall, who are the only club across the league with a maximum return of 25 points, and Greystones are threatening to turn Division 2B into a two-horse race. Second-placed ‘Stones have a 10-point lead over the teams below them, with only six points separating third-placed Wanderers from bottom side Sligo.



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Corinthians 36 Dungannon 12, Corinthian Park
Greystones 42 Sligo 0, Dr. Hickey Park
MU Barnhall 27 Sunday’s Well 7, Parsonstown
Rainey Old Boys 37 Skerries 30, Hatrick Park
Wanderers 24 Belfast Harlequins 25, Aviva Stadium back pitch

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.

MU Barnhall put on another clinical display of attacking rugby to pocket five more points from their 27-7 victory over Sunday’s Well at Parsonstown. The ‘Well were missing the likes of Peter O’Brien, Eoin Geary and Joshua Barnes, with Geary’s place at out-half going to Mickey Collins on his All-Ireland League debut.

The Corkmen played into the wind in the first half and coped well, disrupting the hosts’ scrums and lineouts with centre Ryan Buckley making a couple of breaks. Nonetheless, Barnhall’s ability to turn even the slightest opportunity in points was evident when a fortuitous pass, which bounced off a team-mate’s chest, fell for onrushing full-back Eoghain Quinn who sprinted clear for an unconverted try.

Two other regular scorers, winger Conor Lacey and openside Paul Nalty, chipped in with their sixth and fourth tries of the season respectively, swiftly opening up a 17-point lead early in the second period. In response, replacement scrum half Gary Downey lifted the tempo for the ‘Well and winger James Kiernan cut inside for a converted score.

But the Blue Bulls crushed any comeback hopes with winger Matthew Alborough’s bonus point try from a blocked clearance kick, and then just when Sunday’s Well were building for a potential second try, pacy Barnhall replacement Michael Mellett intercepted to run the length of the pitch and seal a 20-point success.

Wanderers moved up to third but lost ground on the top two thanks to their 25-24 home defeat to Belfast Harlequins. Having led 22-10 at half-time, ‘Quins held on with centre Mark Gribben, who kicked 10 points, and industrious number 8 Ben Alexander standing out for the victors. The ‘Quins tries were scored by Alexander, James Harrison and Toby Mannus.

Division 2B seems to be specialising in high-scoring thrillers in the early part of the season, and the Hatrick Park crowd were treated to a cracking encounter between Rainey Old Boys and Skerries. Rainey mixed the very good with the bad but came out on top, winning 37-30 to move off the bottom of the table.

In wet and windy conditions, Billy Mulcahy and Andy Magrath swapped early penalties before the Magherafelt men broke into an 18-3 lead by the 32nd minute. With Skerries’ set piece game malfunctioning, Rainey built through the phases to set up winger Andrew Donaghy for a 16th minute try.

In a further setback, the Goats lost flanker Peter O’Neill to the sin-bin for not retreating 10 metres at a penalty. Strong carries from Rainey front rowers Aidan McSwiggan and George Fritz created an opening for trailing scrum half Jason Bloomfield to break through and score his third try in two games.

However, John Andrews’ side switched off before half-time and Skerries reduced the arrears to eight points courtesy of lock Ben Jenkinson’s converted try on the back of a quick tap penalty. The teams exchanged tries again with Rainey number 8 Paddy Magowan’s pushover score followed by Tom Mulvany becoming the second of the Skerries second rows to touch down.

Rainey appeared to be pulling clear when they attacked the blindside of a scrum, winger Scott McLean going over in the corner for the bonus point try from a Michael O’Neill pass. John McCusker’s sin-binning preceded a terrific team try for Skerries in the corner, finished by centre Kevin McGrath.

30-20 became 37-20 when Rainey’s replacement prop Stephen Rutledge capped off a strong spell of forward pressure with a fine individual try, but the game was still there for the taking in the final quarter. Breakdown infringements saw Rainey back row duo Charlie Clarke and Paul Pritchard yellow carded in quick succession.

Skerries captailised to run in their bonus point try through winger Paul Devitt, and with time not on their side, Mulcahy was called on to turn a late scrum penalty into three points as the Dubliners took home a second bonus point from this topsy-turvy game.

Greystones matched Barnhall’s five wins from five with a 42-0 bonus point triumph at home to Sligo. Full-back and captain Andrew Kealy led by example early on with a try – aided by a fortuitous bounce – and two penalties. A penalty try, with a Sligo forward in the sin-bin, stretched the margin to 18 points at the interval.

Winger Andrew Lynch’s perseverance was rewarded with a try inside the opening minute of the second half, and the hosts’ third successive try-scoring bonus point was registered just three minutes later courtesy of Ferdia Kenny’s breakaway score from deep.

Kenny completed his brace and took his season’s tally to four tries, courtesy of centre Con Callan’s neat set-up. After Sligo suffered a second yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, ‘Stones topped off their impressive six-try haul in tough conditions when out-half Killian Marmion crossed in the 65th minute.

It has been a positive few weeks for Corinthians who have climbed into the top half of the table following a five-try 36-12 home win over Dungannon. JP Cooney’s charges have claimed 10 of their 11 points so far in the last three rounds, including victories over Sunday’s Well and ‘Gannon at Corinthian Park.

– Photos from Charles Henderson (www.charleshendersonphotography.co.uk)