UCC, Young Munster and Nenagh Ormond were all in free-scoring form during the second round of the Energia Community Series. Sligo are top of the table in Connacht, having used their powerful scrum and pacy backs to overcome Galwegians.
Buccaneers left it late to seal their first competitive win under new head coach Kolo Kiripati. Eoin O’Reilly raced in under the posts to break Ballina hearts in the last minute, as Buccs prevailed 24-14 at Heffernan Park.
A strong 10-point start from the Pirates laid the foundations, out-half Luke Carty landing a penalty before converting a 12th-minute try from Castlebar Mark Balaski who had darted through a gap in the home defence.
However, Ballina were the better team in the second quarter and reached half-time with a 14-10 lead. Hooker Billy McVann crossed from a Luke Sweeney pass and, just six minutes later, Darragh Whyte also notched a try out wide, at the end of a swarming set of attacking phases that began with a Michael Cribben interception.
Out-half Craig McCormick confidently added two cracking conversions for a four-point advantage which remained in place until the hour mark. The Buccs forwards punched through from a lineout maul and hooker Darren Browne grounded the ball for Carty to convert.
Ballina went hunting for a late match-winning response, going closest through McVann who was stopped just short of the try-line. Barely a minute-and-a-half later, Buccs were celebrating O’Reilly’s clinching score. The conversion took Carty’s tally to nine points.
Sligo are the new leaders of the Connacht Conference after dishing out a 25-15 defeat to Galwegians in Strandhill. Their early scrum dominance translated into a 17-0 lead, out-half Euan Brown kicking a penalty either side of a pushover try and a penalty try.
‘Wegians knuckled down and took advantage of a Brown yellow card to reduce the arrears to twelve points by half-time. Their best moment came in the 57th minute when Rory Gaffney’s sniping run led to supporting flanker Mikey O’Donnell going in under the posts.
Crucially though, Sligo already had their 25 points on the board by that stage, with their back-line conjuring up an excellent try in the right corner. Calum Goddard, Guilherme Coghetto and Hubert Gilvarry combined on a devastatingly quick break out of their half and it was Gilvarry, the promising Connacht Schools talent, who scorched home.
Nine-try UCC ruthlessly put an injury-hit and inexperienced Shannon team to the sword in a 61-17 Energia Community Series win at the Mardyke.
Second row Brendan McSorley sauntered over twice inside the opening 22 minutes as Brian Walsh’s well-drilled Cork students bounced back from last week’s heavy loss to Young Munster.
UCC led 26-5 at half-time, former Munster centre Cian Bohane bagging a 25th-minute bonus point score to add to a James Taylor effort. Out-half Taylor, the 2019 Division 1A Rising Star award winner, knocked over six conversions to finish with 17 points.
From a quick tap by Ben Daly, Ikem Ugwueru’s weaving run led to Darragh Oxley scoring Shannon’s opening try in the right corner. They also took advantage of a second half sin-binning when head coach Tadhg Bennett’s younger brother Brian, on his senior debut, reached over from another swiftly-taken penalty.
However, UCC’s lead remained a large one as Bennett’s score only made it 40-10. Bohane soon offloaded out of the tackle to put Richard Thompson over, Rob Hedderman and replacement Killian Coghlan ran in late breakaway scores for UCC, and Shannon’s industrious flanker Sean McCarthy closed out the scoring.
Young Munster piled on the points for the second week running to climb to the summit of Munster Conference 1. They scored eight tries, including a first-half penalty try, to land a comprehensive 54-7 loss on local rivals Old Crescent at Rosbrien.
Munsters had already registered five tries by half-time, their powerful pack immediately taking control with early scores from hooker Mark O’Mara and number 8 Huw Worthington. Evan Cusack, who finished with 17 points, and Alan Kennedy joined them on the scoresheet and the scrum also secured that penalty try.
Crescent had briefly halted the one-way traffic with full-back Jack O’Mahony’s try, superbly converted from far out by Ronan McKenna. Yet, the Cookies forwards kept up their rampaging form and the rout was rounded off by three more five-pointers from Aaron Hennessy, Alan Tynan, who raided over from the left wing, and Welsh recruit Worthington.
Luke Hogan’s second try of the series, coupled with seven points from the boot of Aidan Hickey, inspired a confidence-boosting win for Clonmel who came from 10 points down to beat Bruff 17-15 at Ardgaoithe.
Tighthead prop David O’Gorman also got over the whitewash for the south Tipperary outfit, who had trailed early on to a high-quality score from Kieran Bennett – the best performer for the injury-hit visitors.
Nenagh Ormond, the new Munster Conference 2 leaders, posted their second bonus point victory away to Midleton. They were operating at a one-point-per-minute rate when back rower John Hayes picked up their ninth and final try with 25 minutes still to play.
55-19 victors in the end, Nenagh led from the second minute onwards at Towns Park and there were try doubles from Nicky Irwin and Kevin O’Flaherty as well as single efforts from Patrick Scully, Evan Murphy, Peter Coman, Ruaidhri O’Brien, who has returned to the club after a five-year absence, and Hayes.
Bryan Moore (2) and Daniel Murphy both dotted down for Midleton, with captain Stuart Lee knocking over two conversions. Tom Mulcahy’s men are away to Bruff in round three next Saturday afternoon.
First half tries from Colin Madden, Colin Ryan, who scored from a hack through, and Jamie McNamara set UL Bohemians up for a well-merited 33-25 triumph over Dolphin. Their bonus point was secured when young scrum half Madden used a clever dummy to reach over from a close-in ruck.
Dolphin, who leaked a fifth try to Darragh O’Gorman, battled on and a late purple patch saw them fall just short of a losing bonus point. Still, their three tries from Alex Molloy, Andrew Dorgan and Alex Denby provide some positives to take into their next game at home to Nenagh.
Meanwhile, following the correct application relating to Covid-19 guidelines, two second round fixtures in Munster were cancelled – Cashel v Highfield and Garryowen v Cork Constitution. The scores are recorded as 0-0 and both teams awarded two points.
ENERGIA COMMUNITY SERIES – SECOND ROUND RESULTS:
Ballina 14 Buccaneers 24, Heffernan Park
Sligo 25 Galwegians 15, Hamilton Park
Galway Corinthians – Bye
MUNSTER CONFERENCE 1:
UCC 61 Shannon 17, the Mardyke
Cashel v Highfield, Spafield (Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points)
Garryowen v Cork Constitution, Dooradoyle (Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points)
Old Crescent 7 Young Munster 54, Rosbrien
MUNSTER CONFERENCE 2:
Clonmel 17 Bruff 15, Ardgaoithe
Midleton 19 Nenagh Ormond 55, Towns Park
UL Bohemians 33 Dolphin 25, University of Limerick 4G pitch
Sunday’s Well – Bye