Three of Saturday’s matches in All-Ireland League Division 2C were decided by three points or less, while the meeting of the top two clubs saw Midleton win 17-10 at home to cut Ballina’s lead at the summit to five points.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2C: Saturday, February 16
ROUND 12 RESULTS –
Bangor 0 Seapoint 13, Upritchard Park
Malahide 13 Tullamore 12, Estuary Road
Midleton 17 Ballina 10, Towns Park
Omagh 27 Bruff 26, Thomas Mellon Playing Fields
Thomond 13 City of Derry 16, Liam Fitzgerald Park
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.
Second-placed Midleton handed Ballina their first defeat since October as tries from Benji Cottle and Mark Corby earned them a seven-point victory. The Moy men did manage to come away from Towns Park with a last-gasp losing bonus point, their teenage out-half Dylan Prendergast landing a penalty with the last kick of the game.
Having lost to City of Derry in the last round, Midleton had lost ground to make up on the leaders and they went about their business efficiently with two first half tries. Ballina were rocked by the opener after just 90 seconds when Kiwi centre Cottle nipped through a gap to score from 30 metres out, with captain Stuart Lee converting.
It was the home forwards who did the donkey try for their 17th minute try, wearing down the Ballina defence with repeated drives before prop Corby crashed over from close range. Two converted scores clear at the break, Lee’s boot tagged on three more points with a well-struck penalty early in the second period.
It looked ominous for Ballina at that stage as they were struggling to break down Midleton’s reinforced defence, while the stop-start nature of play was adding to their frustration. The visitors thought they were in for a 71st minute try, but replacement Bradley Nealon’s effort was ruled out for a foot in touch.
Big back rower Daniel Molloy proved unstoppable soon after, claiming a much-needed score with Calum Quinn, Alex Corduff, Richie Morrow and Mickey Murphy all involved in the build-up. Prendergast’s impressive conversion proved vital in the end, as Midleton’s decision-making and discipline let them down late on.
Various indiscretions resulted in a number of yellow cards, and although Midleton appeared to steady the ship, their decision to turn down a kickable penalty and instead run down the clock ended up backfiring on them. Ballina countered brilliantly from the stolen lineout and their reward was Prendergast’s bonus point-clinching penalty.
Two of the division’s Ulster clubs won at the weekend with Omagh edging out third-placed Bruff in a thrilling encounter at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields, while City of Derry enjoyed back-to-back victories for the first time this season with a hard-fought 16-13 success away to second-from-bottom Thomond.
Nine tries were scored in Omagh’s 27-26 triumph over the Limerick men, the match winner coming from out-half Scott Elliott in the final minutes when Bruff were committed to the breakdown and he flew through a gap to race away and score from 40 metres. The visitors still came away with two bonus points, which keep them ahead of the Accies in the table.
A brace of tries from their Kiwi flanker Taylor Jones, the first from a quick tap, had Bruff 14-10 ahead at half-time. Omagh had two unconverted tries of their own, Ryan Mitchell going over in the 14th minute from Mervyn Edgar’s clever offload, and full-back Ali Beckett scoring late on after the ball was moved wide from a scrum.
Bruff full-back Kevin McManus was unfortunate to miss two penalties, with one coming back off the post, but they looked in good stead when centre Jack O’Grady crossed in the 55th minute to make it 19-10. Their excellent ball retention was causing problems for the home defence, but again Omagh showed their resilience.
Back-to-back tries from half-backs Elliott and Stewart McCain, the latter from a quickly-taken penalty, nudged the Accies in front before hooker John Clery replied with Bruff’s bonus point try, giving them a 26-22 buffer. Omagh made sure they had the final say, though, with Elliott completing his brace in decisive fashion.
After beating Bruff and Tullamore in the last two rounds, Thomond’s brief winning run was ended by City of Derry at Liam Fitzgerald Park. Centre David Lapsley struck for the all-important try in the dying seconds, profiting from a break by out-half Alex McDonnell who converted to complete his 11-point haul.
The 16-13 loss was a hugely disappointing outcome for Thomond who coped well playing into the wind in the first half, but failed to turn their pressure into points after a Derry yellow card. The Soda Cakes recovered from two sin-binnings of their own to score a superb 69th-minute try through full-back Keelan Stephenson, which Evan Cusack converted.
Although the Thomond out-half rewarded a blockbuster of a maul with a further three points, there was still plenty of injury-time left for Derry’s McDonnell and Lapsley to rescue the win from the jaws of defeat. Derry remain seventh in the standings but are now four points clear of both Tullamore and Thomond.
Tullamore came desperately close to completing a season’s double over Malahide, having won 16-12 at home in December. However, Karl Dunne’s clutch of penalty goals was not enough in the rematch at Estuary Road where first half tries from John Shine and Rory Kavanagh, coupled with a Shane O’Brien penalty, saw the hosts prevail 13-12.
Bottom side Seapoint claimed another big result in their battle against relegation with a 13-0 win away to an out-of-sorts Bangor. New Zealander Bain Champion returned at full-back for the south Dubliners and converted number 8 Zac Jungmann’s early try, following nice hands from openside Cian O’Gorman, and also kicked two penalties.
Two victories on the trot mean Eric Miller’s men are now just a point behind both Tullamore and Thomond, while sixth-placed Bangor, who travel to Bruff this coming Saturday, are in desperate need of a result after losing five straight matches since December’s 12-10 victory over Seapoint.