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Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Round 3 Review

Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Round 3 Review

City of Armagh hooker Jack Treanor dives over to score the first try of their dramatic Division 1B clash with Shannon ©Ken Redpath/City of Armagh RFC

St. Mary’s College picked up their first win of the campaign, while Old Belvedere edged their way into the top four of Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1B.

ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – DIVISION 1B:

ROUND 3: Saturday, October 16

BANBRIDGE 17 ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 29, Rifle Park
Scorers: Banbridge: Tries: Alex Thompson, Robert Mathers; Cons: Adam Doherty 2; Pen: Adam Doherty
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Matt Timmons 2, Richie Halpin, Mark Fogarty, Penalty try; Cons: Conor Dean, Pen try con
HT: Banbridge 10 St. Mary’s College 24

St. Mary’s College tasted victory for the first time in Division 1B this season after a strong first half set them up to beat Banbridge 29-17 at Rifle Park.

Winger Matt Timmons weighed in with two tries, and a penalty try and two well-taken efforts from captain Richie Halpin and Mark Fogarty ensured maximum points for the Dubliners.

Following a poor start which left them trailing 17-0, Banbridge engineered a two-try fightback but they gave themselves too much to do according to head coach Mark McDowell.

“I thought that for a period midway through the second half we played our best rugby of the season,” he said afterwards.

“But there are no poor teams in this league, and Mary’s are probably one of the better ones, and we made it so hard for ourselves after conceding those early scores.”

St. Mary’s carved open the home defence in the eighth minute to put Timmons in for an opening unconverted try, off a move initiated on the halfway line.

Three minutes later they almost added a second on the opposite flank, but Ruairi Shields just failed to gather a neat chip kick in behind the defence.

Nonetheless, that second try was not long coming – and it came off a Bann lineout, with the hosts failing to secure the ball at the tail close to their own line. Mary’s gathered, set up the maul and hooker Halpin finished off, with Conor Dean converting.

The carnage continued, with Steven Hennessy’s men adding their third try 20 minutes into the game off a scrum on their own 10-metre line. Scrum half Fogarty took the final pass and cruised home.

Bann managed to work their way into opposition territory and lock Alex Thompson was at his evasive best, bursting through a series of challenges for an excellent individual try. Adam Doherty tagged on the conversion.

However, any hopes Banbridge had of turning around at half-time on level terms were crushed in the 35th minute.

The visitors set up a maul off another lineout five metres out, the drive collapsed and without hesitation referee Robert O’Sullivan ran to the posts to indicate a penalty try, leaving it 24-7.

Doherty’s successful penalty shot on 37 minutes still left his side with a 14-point deficit to make up going into the second half.

There was no doubting the determination of the home side to turn things around as they dominated for much of the next 30 minutes played.

Such was the pressure brought to bear on the Mary’s line that they conceded three penalties in rapid succession and picked up two yellow cards.

Yet, the anticipated penalty try did not materialise and temporary relief for the visitors came when Bann winger John Porter was forced into touch just short of the try-line. Mary’s cleared their lines from the set piece that followed.

But from the next Bann attack, Mary’s were again penalised in front of their posts. Captain Peter Cromie tapped and drove, the ball was recycled and replacement prop Robert Mathers drove over from close range, with Doherty converting.

That left McDowell’s charges in a losing bonus point position with 12 minutes remaining. All that momentum built up over the previous 20 minutes was lost just four minutes later.

A sloppy piece of defending let Mary’s in for their fifth and final try, Timmons completing his brace out wide, and Bann were left with nothing to show for their efforts.

– Photos by John Mullan

BANBRIDGE: Adam Doherty; Alex Morrow, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, John Porter; Josh Cromie, Neil Kilpatrick; Josh Chambers, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Brendan McSorley, Alex Thompson, Alex Weir, Matthew Laird, Robin Sinton.

Replacements: Timothy Savage, Robert Maller, Chris Allen, Joshua Cunningham, Lewis Nelmes, Conor Field.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Ruairi Shields; Matt Timmons, Myles Carey, Mick O’Gara, Craig Kennedy; Conor Dean, Mark Fogarty; Niall McEniff, Richie Halpin (capt), Mick McCormack, Ian Wickham, Liam Corcoran, Conor Corcoran, Niall Hurley, Nick McCarthy.

Replacements: Jamie Coolican, Padraig Dundon, Daniel Leane, Daniel Lyons, Aaron O’Neill, Joe Nolan.

CITY OF ARMAGH 23 SHANNON 20, Palace Grounds
Scorers: City of Armagh: Tries: Jack Treanor, Penalty try; Cons: Kyle Faloon, Pen try con; Pens: Kyle Faloon 3
Shannon: Tries: Daniel Okeke, Penalty try; Cons: John O’Sullivan, Pen try con; Pens: John O’Sullivan 2
HT: City of Armagh 10 Shannon 6

A late penalty try ensured a dramatic finish at the Palace Grounds where unbeaten City of Armagh won a high-octane tie 23-20 against Shannon.

Munster Academy back rower Daniel Okeke was minutes away from being the match winner, having crossed for the second week running, but the strength of Armagh’s maul saw them have the final say.

Goal-kicking full-back Kyle Faloon was influential again for the hosts, contributing 11 points, while tireless flanker James Hanna was picked out as the player-of-the-match.

A minute’s silence was observed prior to kick-off as a mark of respect to City of Armagh stalwart Sinclair Scott, and also Shannon legend Anthony Foley on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his death.

In dry and overcast conditions, Armagh quickly went about their business. Off a lineout on the Shannon 22, they patiently went through the phases and hooker Jack Treanor broke in between two tackles to score.

Faloon converted the seventh-minute try and took them into double figures in the 20th minute, lofting over a close-in penalty after Shannon had been forced to defend for long spells.

Shannon’s scrum then began to make inroads, setting up John O’Sullivan’s opening penalty. The out-half fired over a second effort from Armagh’s 10-metre line, just two minutes later.

Armagh, who had lost captain Nigel Simpson to injury, came under further pressure with O’Sullivan kicking well for territory and Shannon’s impressive line speed making it difficult for the home side to make ground.

O’Sullivan hit the post with a late penalty, leaving Armagh to take a 10-6 lead into the break. They reopened the seven-point gap when Faloon slotted over a 47th-minute kick.

However, Shannon roared back with a penalty try just three minutes later. A crooked Armagh lineout gave the Limerick men a set piece opportunity, just 10 metre out, and their powerful maul struck a double blow.

As well as the concession of the penalty try, Armagh lost prop Philip Fletcher to the sin bin for pulling down the maul. It was now 13 points apiece and the game was on a knife edge.

Ikem Ugwueru had to be quick to cover the danger as Armagh winger Matthew Hooks hacked through on a 50-metre attack. The Ulstermen applied further pressure in the 63rd minute, Faloon punishing an offside for a 16-13 lead.

Armagh lost a second prop to the sin, Paul Mullen this time seeing yellow, but Shannon’s decision to opt for a lineout backfired when they lost possession, adding to the growing tension.

In response, Pat O’Connor’s charges conjured up a brilliant team try in the 77th minute as Armagh were punished for kicking loosely to the Shannon 10-metre line.

Darren Galvin made the initial thrust, centre Alan Flannery cut in past two defenders from halfway and flicked a superb pass behind his back for replacement Okeke to charge over from the edge of the 22. O’Sullivan converted.

Trailing 20-16 with time almost up, Armagh were frustrated by two knock-ons in their attempts to respond. A penalty to touch gave them one final shot at overhauling the visitors.

Replacement hooker Jonny Morton felt he had got the ball down from an excellent catch-and-drive effort. but referee Dermot Blake was unsighted and penalised Shannon instead for collapsing the maul.

Knuckling down again, Armagh gained crucial momentum from the next drive and earned the last-gasp reward of a penalty try. A display of true grit and determination at the end of a gripping top-four clash.

– Photos by Ken Redpath

CITY OF ARMAGH: Kyle Faloon; Andrew Willis, Shea O’Brien, Chris Colvin, Matthew Hooks; Romain Morrow, Alex Johnston; Peter Lamb, Jack Treanor, Philip Fletcher, John Glasgow, Josh McKinley, Nigel Simpson (capt), James Hanna, Ryan O’Neill.

Replacements: Jonny Morton, Eoin O’Hagan, Oliver Millar, James Morton, Gerard Treanor, Evin Crummie.

SHANNON: Aran Hehir; Ikem Ugwueru, Killian Dineen, Alan Flannery, Jack O’Donnell; John O’Sullivan, Ian Leonard; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Luke Rigney, Odhran Ring, Sean McCarthy, Kelvin Brown, Charlie Carmody, Lee Nicholas (capt).

Replacements: Declan Moore, Darragh McSweeney, Kieran Ryan, Ben Sargent, Darren Gavin, Daniel Okeke.

HIGHFIELD 38 NAAS 3, Woodleigh Park
Scorers: Highfield: Tries: Robert Murphy, Sam Burns, Paul Stack, Ronan O’Sullivan, Ben Murphy, Travis Coomey; Cons: Paddy O’Toole 4
Naas: Pen: Peter Osborne
HT: Highfield 12 Naas 3

The dominance of Highfield’s forwards was translated onto the Woodleigh Park scoreboard as they carved out an impressive 38-3 bonus point win over Naas.

Paddy O’Toole had a key influence on the game, moving to out-half early on after Highfield lost young number 10 James Taylor to injury when trying to tackle Naas enforcer Paulie Tolofua.

Captain Peter Osborne kicked Naas into the lead, but Highfield fought back with tries from replacement Sam Burns (25 minutes) and hooker Robert Murphy, who plunged over from a 33rd-minute maul.

Osborne had the distance but not the accuracy with a second long-range penalty, and Highfield had to absorb further pressure with Daragh Fitzgerald and Ryan Murphy doing well to turn over a maul.

Naas dominated possession and territory during the opening quarter but only had three points to show for it. Soon it was Highfield’s pick-and-go game that was hurting the visitors.

Having gained ground through the middle, the Corkmen then threw a neat chain of passes from captain Chris Banon to O’Toole to Luke Kingston, who got outside a defender and set up Burns to speed over in the left corner.

After O’Toole’s conversion bounced away off the near post, Highfield continued to up the physicality with Mark Dorgan’s big tackle in midfield leading to a counter-ruck and turnover ball.

A costly penalty reversal for a push by Peter King saw Naas come under further pressure in their own 22. Fintan O’Sullivan won the lineout cleanly and a big drive propelled hooker Murphy over near the left corner.

O’Toole added the extras on this occasion, opening up a 12-3 lead. A Miah Cronin break had Highfield threatening a third try but Naas scrambled well and were able to kick clear from a scrum.

Into the second half, 12-3quickly became 19-3 as Ronan O’Sullivan, having been introduced off the bench, scored his third try in as many games. Again, it was all about Highfield’s cohesiveness up front.

They forced a penalty, tighthead Fitzgerald tidied up a loose lineout, their big carriers, including James Rochford, folded around before O’Sullivan picked from a ruck to squeeze in under the posts.

Naas hammered back downfield, out-half Bryan Croke making a clever break that almost earned him a try. Number 8 Tolofua was stopped short from a tap penalty, and David Benn was tackled into touch.

Highfield kept their line intact but at the expense of a yellow card to hooker Murphy, and O’Toole increased his influence with a superb touchfinder and then a hack through from a turnover.

A moment of magic from Paul Stack earned Highfield their bonus point in the 56th minute. He burst through from a Dorgan pass, 40 metres out, chipped over the top and won the race to the touchdown.

O’Toole converted, to the left of the posts, and also sweetly swung over the extras following replacement hooker Travis Coomey’s try, just six minutes later.

O’Sullivan’s strong run almost earned him a second score before Naas replacement Conor Doyle was sin-binned for offside. The resulting lineout maul snaked its way over with Coomey in possession at the back.

That made it 33-3 and a sixth and final try followed, with Naas losing replacement Matt Stapleton to the bin for a deliberate knock-on. O’Toole’s long pass set up Kingston to send winger Ben Murphy over on the right.

HIGHFIELD: Luke Kingston; Ben Murphy, Paddy O’Toole, Mark Dorgan, Paul Stack; James Taylor, Chris Banon (capt); James Rochford, Robert Murphy, Daragh Fitzgerald, Eoin Keating, Fintan O’Sullivan, Dave O’Connell, Ryan Murphy, Miah Cronin.

Replacements: Travis Coomey, Mick Dillane, Ronan O’Sullivan, Eddie Earle, Sam Burns, Gavin O’Leary.

NAAS: Peter Osborne (capt); Donal Conroy, Gary Kavanagh, Craig Ronaldson, Sam Cahill; Bryan Croke, Connor Halpenny; Adam Coyle, John Sutton, Peter King, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Connor Johnson, Conor Doyle, Cillian Dempsey, Tim Murphy, Matt Stapleton, Colm Doyle.

OLD BELVEDERE 32 MALONE 10, Ollie Campbell Park
Scorers: Old Belvedere: Tries: John McKee 2, Tom Ryan, Ariel Robles, James McKeown; Cons: Justin Leonard 2; Pen: Justin Leonard
Malone: Try: Andy Bryans; Con: Rory Campbell; Pen: Rory Campbell
HT: Old Belvedere 22 Malone 10

Leinster Academy hooker John McKee helped himself to two tries in Old Belvedere’s well-judged 32-10 bonus point triumph over Malone at Ollie Campbell Park.

Returning winger Ariel Robles also had a fine game, scoring the opening try and providing two try assists. Injury-hit Malone trailed 22-10 at half-time.

The visitors’ best moment came when Ulster’s Aaron Sexton broke through the home defence to send winger Andy Bryans over in the corner.

With five minutes on the clock, Old Belvedere attacked from a scrum in the Malone 22. The move threatened to break down in midfield, but Robbie Deegan did brilliantly to scoop up a loose ball and ferry it on.

Colm Hogan was the grateful recipient and he fired a pass wide to Robles who showed his poacher’s instinct with a low finish past two defenders in the left corner. Justin Leonard lofted over a cracking conversion.

Malone hit back with a couple of nice breaks, as Ben McCaughey and Bryans profited from the distribution skills of Lewis Finlay and Conor Spence, who was playing at out-half but is usually a scrum half.

Rory Campbell deservedly got them off the mark with a well-struck penalty, but the Belvedere backs were in the mood and a deft pass from Hogan invited Robles through a hole, just past halfway.

Darting up towards the 22, the former Trinity and Clontarf winger looped a pass out wide for James McKeown to gather and finish superbly by shrugging off Bryans and taking Sexton with him over the whitewash.

The left-footed Leonard pulled the difficult conversion wide, leaving it 12-3 after just 14 minutes. They went 14 points in front just six minutes later.

Campbell missed touch from a penalty, ‘Belvo moved back to Malone’s 10-metre line where number 8 Tom Ryan broke clean through from a ruck. He fended off Stewart McKendrick and used a combination of his own pace and a dummy pass to cross in the corner.

However, Malone responded in impressive fashion, lovely hands from Dave Cave, Ben McCaughey and Spence freed up Sexton to dance in between two defenders and offload for Bryans to step inside a cover tackle and score.

Campbell flung over a brilliant conversion too, closing the gap to 17-10. With skipper Cave at the heart of things in defence and attack, the Cregagh Red Sox enjoyed another purple patch in ‘Belvo territory.

A try looked on the cards but a Campbell knock-on, followed by some loose kicking from Bryans and Lewis Finlay, handed the initiative back to ‘Belvo.

Hogan’s excellent aerial take and well-timed pass put Robles darting along the left touchline. He drew a high tackle on the Malone 22, and while a subsequent maul was well defended, McKee popped up a few phases later to power over the line.

Turnover penalties dominated the third quarter, as the battle of the breakdown intensified. Cave stood out again in this area and he also had a great charge over halfway in the 50th minute.

With 15 minutes remaining, ‘Belvo made certain of the result. David Butler’s decoy run opened up space for Robles to snipe through and he laid off for McKee to stretch his legs and score from 25 metres out.

Leonard nailed the conversion and also took the home side up to 32 points late on. He split the posts with a penalty that was awarded for a high tackle on replacement Joe Horan.

OLD BELVEDERE: Colm Hogan; James McKeown, David Butler, Robbie Deegan, Ariel Robles; Justin Leonard, Briain Leonard; Jerry Cahir, John McKee, Ryan McMahon, Dean Moore (capt), Paddy Dowling, Colin Mallon, Jack Breen, Tom Ryan.

Replacements: Joe Horan, Stewart Maguire, Calum Dowling, Will McDonald, Peter O’Beirne, Jack Gilheany.

MALONE: Aaron Sexton; Rory Campbell, David McMaster, Ben McCaughey, Andy Bryans; Conor Spence, Lewis Finlay; Tommy O’Hagan, Claytan Milligan, Ricky Greenwood, Adam McNamee, Stewart McKendrick, Dan Kerr, Dave Cave (capt), Max Porter.

Replacements: Zach Devine, Ben Halliday, Daryl Maxwell, Jonny Betts, Shane Kelly, Aidan McSwiggan.

OLD WESLEY 45 NAVAN 7, Energia Park
Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Iain McGann, David Poff, Alastair Hoban, Robert O’Donovan, Nathan Randles, Conor Gaston, Charlie O’Regan; Cons: Josh Miller 3, Ian Cassidy, Paddy McKenzie
Navan: Try: Paddy Fox; Con: Mark Farrell
HT: Old Wesley 19 Navan 0

Outscoring Navan by seven tries to one, Old Wesley climbed into second place in the table after running out 45-7 winners in the later kick-off at Energia Park.

Right from the outset it was clear that Old Wesley were chasing the bonus point, and they duly sent a kickable second-minute penalty down the line.

The gamble paid off as after some accurate handling, centre David Poff crossed in the right corner for his second try in as many games.

Wesley continued the dominance and soon had another lineout deep in the Navan 22. A knock-on looked like the opportunity was gone, but when the visitors failed to control scrum ball, Alastair Hoban pounced on a loose ball for try number two.

This time Josh Miller converted for a 12-0 lead, and the Ray Moloney-coached underdogs had hardly touched the ball yet.

Navan eventually claimed some Old Wesley territory by the quarter hour mark and tried to get their attack firing. However, the most they could achieve was a missed penalty kick.

Their woes were added to midway through the first half when their new South African number 8 Hardus van Eeden was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.

Wesley were soon back bombarding the visitors’ defence, and with 27 minutes on the clock, captain Iain McGann had no difficulty in shrugging off a couple of tackles to cross for a try from 10 metres out, converted by Miller.

Approaching half-time, Wesley scrum half Ian Cassidy made a neat break off a maul, gaining 15 metres but it came to nothing.

Navan had another chance to get off the mark with a penalty 40 metres out.  They kicked to touch but again nothing further came of it, leaving Morgan Lennon’s charges with a healthy 19-0 lead advantage at the interval.

Navan started the second half with gusto, but just could not breach the Wesley defence.  Eventually a loose pass was kicked down field by Tommy O’Callaghan, taking Wesley right back into the scoring zone.

After a number of phases the Navan defence was stretched and it was McGann again on hand to deliver a pass to Rob O’Donovan who crossed with relative ease,, bagging the bonus point in the process.

If Navan were to have any chance they needed to score next, but the exact opposite happened. A kick down the touchline and a defensive mix-up by the Meath men was capitalised on by the chasing Nathan Randles who dived on a loose ball for another try.

Cassidy converted from the touchline and the result was beyond doubt. Wesley were now rampant and the visitors had no answer.

Shortly after the water break, Charlie O’Regan scored try number six after receiving a pass and sprinting 20 metres unopposed to touch down under the posts.

With 10 minutes remaining, resilient Navan eventually had their moment of glory thanks to a consolation try from winger Paddy Fox, which Mark Farrell converted.

Wesley still had more scores in them, their back-line queuing up to score after the Navan defence was stretched. Full-back Conor Gaston strolled over to cap off a business-like performance from the hosts.

– Photos by Ken Richardson

OLD WESLEY: Conor Gaston; Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, David Poff, Nathan Randles; Josh Miller, Ian Cassidy; Harry Noonan, Ben Burns, Robert O’Donovan, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann (capt), Will Fay, Daire Feeney, Reuben Pim.

Replacements: Howard Noonan, Sam Kenny, Alastair Hoban, Jack Costigan, Paddy McKenzie, Charlie O’Regan.

NAVAN: Liam McLoughlin; Paddy Fox, Sean McEntagart, Evan Dixon, Ben McEntagart; Colm O’Reilly, Mark Farrell; Niall Farrelly, Jack Nelson, Eoin King, Andrew Doyle, Conor Hand, Shane Faulkner, Conor Farrell, Hardus van Eeden.

Replacements: Gary Faulkner, Ronan Hannon, Ronan Meegan, Owen Duggan, Rory Gordon, Willie McAleese.