Second half tries from Dan Murphy and David Stewart saw unbeaten Division 2B leaders MU Barnhall overhaul Dungannon in one of their tightest games of season. With Sligo winning at Rainey Old Boys, there are only six points covering the teams sitting between third and sixth.
ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2B: Saturday, February 23
ROUND 13 RESULTS –
Galway Corinthians 55 Skerries 38, Corinthian Park
MU Barnhall 20 Dungannon 13, Parsonstown
Greystones 28 Belfast Harlequins 26, Dr. Hickey Park
Rainey Old Boys 12 Sligo 16, Hatrick Park
Wanderers 17 Sunday’s Well 13, Merrion Road
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.
Eleven tries (ten of which were converted) and 93 points were scored in the attack-dominated meeting of Corinthians and Skerries in Cloonacauneen. In an action-packed encounter, Corinthians raced into an early lead before Skerries roared back to lead 33-21 and were then outgunned by the Galway men late on.
Tries inside the opening 12 minutes from Ryan Guilfoyle and Micheal O’Reilly – both products of the home back-line’s pace and impressive handling – put Corinthians on course for their third win in four games. Skerries had first advantage of a strong wind and Paul Devitt’s fourth successful penalty clawed it back to a two-point game.
Simon Keller and Mikey Sherlock swapped tries approaching half-time, with the Goats only 21-19 behind, and it was Skerries who seized the initiative on the restart as Ross McAuley and Ruairi Woods both made an impact off the bench. Converted scores from tireless lock Ross Halligan and captain Sherlock’s cousin Evan suddenly moved the visitors 12 points clear.
However, Skerries’ porous defence continued to leave them vulnerable to Corinthians’ fast-paced surges forward. JP Cooney’s men hit back with rapid-fire tries from Mark McDermott, Cian Huxford and winger O’Reilly again. Out-half Keller kept up his 100% rate with the conversions for a 42-33 turnaround.
Although replacement Conn Marrey used a quick lineout throw to the front to burrow over for Skerries’ bonus point try, the westerners made certain of their five-point return with Huxford’s second try, which was sandwiched by two penalties from Keller who finished with a stellar 25-point haul.
MU Barnhall came from seven points down to see off Dungannon’s determined challenge on a 20-13 scoreline at Parsonstown. Their talismanic captain Tom McKeown touched down to bring them level, and despite Lucca Avelli kicking ‘Gannon back in front, Dan Murphy and David Stewart book-ended the second half with tries to hand the Blue Bulls their 13th straight win.
Two converted tries in each half guided second-placed Greystones to a 28-26 bonus point triumph over Belfast Harlequins, with out-half Killian Marmion’s accuracy from the tee proving crucial as he converted winger Matt O’Brien’s 68th-minute try. ‘Quins, who remain second-from-bottom, boosted their survival hopes with a brace of bonus points thanks to tries from Mark Glover (2), Kyle Adams and James McConnell.
An elusive victory fell out of reach for Sunday’s Well as they failed to convert late pressure into a match-winning try at Merrion Road. After losing three on the trot, mid-table Wanderers posted their first win of 2019 – 17-13 – with the ‘Well coming away with a losing bonus point thanks to an Ian Murphy try and two penalties from Eoin Geary.
Wanderers led 10-6 at the turnaround in a keenly-fought contest, with centre Martin O’Neill breaking through to score by the posts. Geary kicked two penalties to one from Peter Brougham, and a key moment in the match, early in the second half, earned the Chaps a penalty try and put the ‘Well down to 14 men.
Wanderers’ Rob O’Beirn cut through the defence only to be high-tackled five metres out, denying him a try-scoring opportunity. Referee Richard Kerr awarded a penalty try and reached for his yellow card. It remained an exciting game and Murphy crashed over to set up a grandstand finish which produced no further scores.
Meanwhile, Sligo have closed the gap on third-placed Rainey Old Boys to four points after winning 16-12 at Hatrick Park. They avenged November’s 27-17 defeat in Strandhill by doing most of the damage in the first half, an early Rainey sin-binning allowing out-half Euan Brown to kick Sligo ahead.
Brown turned provider in the ninth minute when his booming cross-field kick was brilliantly gathered by Calum Goddard and the Kiwi winger danced around the covering Scott McLean before racing in for the only try of this absorbing game. Brown’s conversion put the Yeats men 10 points up.
Two well-struck penalties from McLean got Rainey on the board but their try-scoring attempts were frustrated by Sligo’s well-organised defence, particularly during a prolonged bout of pressure right on half-time. Brown replied from the tee before a brace of McLean kicks made it 13-12 on the 55-minutes mark.
A successful penalty strike from Brown with 14 minutes remaining proved to be enough for Sligo, who defended tigerishly throughout and had a big defensive performance from back rower Sean Wynne who tackled himself to a standstill. They must match this intensity in the coming weeks against Greystones, Wanderers and Barnhall.