The picture has changed at the top of Division 2C with Ballina the new leaders after defeating Midleton 29-20, while Bruff have nipped into second place on the back of their sixth straight win. Tullamore also moved off the bottom rung thanks to a hard-fought victory over Malahide.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2C: Saturday, December 1
ROUND 7 RESULTS –
Ballina 29 Midleton 20, Heffernan Park
Bruff 23 Omagh 17, Kilballyowen Park
City of Derry 19 Thomond 13, Craig Thompson Stadium, Judge’s Road
Seapoint 10 Bangor 12, Kilbogget Park
Tullamore 16 Malahide 12, 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.
Three weeks on from leaking 55 points to Omagh, Tullamore gave themselves a huge lift with a deserved 16-12 triumph over Malahide at a foggy Spollanstown. Two quick-fire first half tries from hooker Cathal Feighery and full-back Sean McCabe set the tone for a dogged performance from John Burns’ charges.
Out-half Karl Dunne also had a big say, his second successful penalty in the 76th minute curling inside the post to put four points between the sides. The Tulliers had to dig deep in the dying minutes until second row Sean Rigney’s excellent lineout steal effectively sealed Malahide’s fate.
It had all begun so well for the north Dubliners, with a pacy move seeing flanker Richie Leyden touch down from an inviting Daniel Hayes pass. But Tullamore built some pressure from their maul and forward carries. Winger Tom Gilligan went close from a cross-field kick before Feighery tidied up a lineout to score from close range.
The home side edged ahead for the first time in the 19th minute when McCabe showed his pace on a kick chase, taking advantage of a Malahide fumble to grubber through and notch a second unconverted try. A superbly-struck 45-metre penalty from Dunne had the Tulliers 13-7 to the good at half-time.
A knock-on spoiled a gilt-edged try-scoring opportunity for Malahide in the third quarter, but there was no denying former Connacht centre Danie Poolman who scored from a quick tap in the 68th minute. The try went unconverted, however, and with replacement front rower Eamon Bracken in man-of-the-match form off the bench, the Offaly men eked out a scrum penalty from which Dunne delivered a decisive three points.
Another member of the front row union, tighthead Shane Clarke, took the man-of-the-match honours in Ballina’s outstanding 29-20 success at home to table-topping Midleton. Flying winger Darragh Whyte’s late try made it a famous day for the Moysiders who had a crucial 19-point kicking contribution from Kieran Lindsay.
The talented out-half booted Ballina ahead as they began on the front foot, moving the ball quickly and accurately against a well set-up Midleton defence. The Corkmen replied with the game’s first try, entering the second quarter with a 7-3 lead after attacking at pace for hooker Bryan Moore to eventually cross the whitewash in the right corner.
Stuart Lee’s classy touchline conversion was cancelled out by Lindsay’s second penalty, only for Midleton to knife through for their second converted try as half-time approached. They capitalised on loose Ballina play and sent winger Rian Hogan in under the posts. Ballina made sure to respond just before the break, replacement Daniel Molloy powering over to reduce the deficit to 14-13.
It turned into a battle of the place-kickers as Lindsay twice kicked Ballina ahead in the second half, before Lee answered back to maintain Midleton’s one-point advantage – 20-19. The volume of the home support seemed to lift Ballina to even greater heights at this stage, Mickey Murphy’s pinpoint pass setting up Lindsay for his well-taken drop goal.
Midleton were thwarted in their attempts to manufacture a match-winning try at 22-20 down, and the hosts used a turnover to lift the tempo and attack both flanks. Finally, a sliver of space opened up for Whyte to squeeze in from close to the touchline and dash closer to the posts. Lindsay’s conversion sealed the result and also sent Midleton home without a bonus point.
Meanwhile, Bruff had to come from 10-0 down and also weather a late storm to overcome Omagh 23-17 at Kilballyowen Park. The Accies were quickest out of the blocks, captain Stewart McCain initiating a nice move off a scrum to the left of the posts and the ball was worked wide for winger Neil Brown to score his third try in two games.
Stuart Ballantine converted impressively from the touchline and added a penalty, but Bruff fought back to lead 17-10 by half-time. A big scrum shove had Omagh under pressure close to their line, and as the forwards chipped away further at the defence, Tony Cahill passed for flanker Cillian Rea to get over in the corner.
Kevin McManus matched Ballantine with an excellent conversion from out wide, and the Bruff full-back followed up with a penalty from the 10-metre line to give the hosts a seven-pointer buffer. Omagh bounced back when Bruff had two men in the sin bin, hooker Phil Ewing breaking off a maul to bring the visitors level.
Nonetheless, Bruff managed to lift their game once again, winning the territorial battle and two more finely-struck penalties from McManus gave them a winning lead. There was still time for Omagh to hunt down a match-winning seven-pointer, giving it their all despite losing a player to a red card. But the Limerick men prevailed to move within two points of the summit.
City of Derry won for their first time in four rounds thanks to a 19-13 dismissal of Thomond who was fallen to the bottom of the table. Derry are now six points above the bottom two, the key scores at Craig Thompson Stadium coming from out-half Alex McDonnell, with a first half chip-and-chase try, and an intercept score from centre David Lapsley from halfway.
Derry led 7-6 at half-time and Thomond swung it back to 13-7 in their favour thanks to out-half Evan Cusack’s 45th-minute try, adding to his two first half penalties. The Soda Cakes, who had a yellow card in each half, had to be content with a losing bonus point in the end, as Lapsley stung them in the 52nd minute and scrum pressure led to Derry captain Stephen Corr crashing over with six minutes left.
Bangor spoiled Seapoint’s 40-year celebrations with a hard-fought 12-10 victory at Kilbogget Park, recovering from the concession of an early intercept try. With a man in the sin bin for pulling down a maul, the hosts could not hold out as Bangor number 8 Curtis Stewart muscled over from a five-metre scrum, nine minutes into the second half.
It was a poor day with the boot for Bangor as Nathan Graham missed the conversion, adding to three penalty misses in the first half, but Bangor’s strength up front was the difference as experienced lock and assistant coach Lewis Stevenson shrugged off a defender to register their second try on the hour mark.
In a tense conclusion to the match, Seapoint forced Bangor into a number of errors and penalty concessions, one of which out-half Cian Buckley turned into three points. Time was not on their side, though, and the Ulstermen were able to keep it tight in the dying minutes, retain possession and kick it dead through scrum half Mark Widdowson.