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Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Round 4 Review

Energia Men’s All-Ireland League: Division 1B Round 4 Review

St. Mary's College accumulated five tries in an excellent win over previously-unbeaten City of Armagh at Templeville Road ©Paul Lundy

Navan and St. Mary’s College claimed important home wins in Energia Men’s All-Ireland League Division 1B, while leaders Highfield needed a late penalty to defeat a battling Malone side.


ROUND 4: Saturday, October 30

MALONE 17 HIGHFIELD 20, Gibson Park
Scorers: Malone: Tries: Dave Cave, Andy Bryans, Angus Curtis; Con: Rory Campbell
Highfield: Tries: Robert Murphy, Miah Cronin, Travis Coomey; Con: Shane O’Riordan; Pen: Shane O’Riordan
HT: Malone 12 Highfield 12

Big-hitting Highfield had to rely on a 79th-minute penalty from Shane O’Riordan in order to edge out Malone 20-17 in a fiercely-contested game at Gibson Park.

Malone really lifted their performance for the visit of the league leaders, and they were able to bring in Ulster pair Gareth Milasinovich and Angus Curtis, along with James McAlister and Nathan Brown, to strengthen their side.

Highfield pressed for an opening score early on and were repelled by some determined Malone defending, until hooker Robert Murphy was driven over from a 15th-minute lineout maul, which had snaked its way infield.

Starting at out-half in place of the injured James Taylor, O’Riordan was successful with the conversion but the hosts soon made it a nip-and-tuck first half.

Importantly, they picked up their opening points midway through, lock Adam McNamee galloping down the right wing and although he was brought down, captain Dave Cave was on hand to pick up and drive over.

They soon turned a 7-5 deficit into a 12-7 lead with an outstanding team try. Increasingly-influential out-half Curtis started it close to the Malone posts, breaking to the right and linking with Brown and Rory Campbell.

The goal-kicking winger showed nimble footwork and acceleration to cut open the defensive line and reach halfway, Brown was there to carry the attack on as were Shane Kelly and the ever-willing McNamee.

Ulster’s Aaron Sexton then took over, using his searing pace to dart towards the Highfield posts, and just as the cover defence closed in, he fired out a brilliant 20-metre pass to the left wing for Andy Bryans to dive over in the corner.

Campbell landed the conversion this time, but Highfield fired back with an excellent try of their own. There was some fantastic interplay between backs and forwards, and it all ended with impressive number 8 Miah Cronin touching down.

The scoreboard stayed at 12 points apiece up to half-time, despite a flurry of attacks at both ends. The game really opened up with a series of line breaks, turnovers and a couple of pinpoint 50:22 kicks.

The teams continued to cancel each other out on the resumption, until Malone built momentum from a quick tap in the Highfield 22. Replacement Lewis Finlay released Curtis on an arcing run to the try-line.

Campbell was unable to convert and O’Riordan also misfired after Highfield’s third try. Their patient build-up play was rewarded with another maul score from replacement hooker Travis Coomey.

The sides could not be separated during a tension-filled final quarter that had the crowd gripped, but Malone crucially leaked a penalty in the dying minutes, some 30 metres out, and O’Riordan coolly converted it.

Highfield gobbled up the restart and kicked the ball dead to confirm a hard-fought win, and while Malone sit just above the bottom two, this all-action display suggest that better results should be around the corner.

– Photos by Kevin Smith

MALONE: Aaron Sexton; Rory Campbell, David McMaster, Nathan Brown, Andy Bryans; Angus Curtis, Shane Kelly; Tommy O’Hagan, Claytan Milligan, Gareth Milasinovich, Adam McNamee, James McAlister, Dan Kerr, Dave Cave (capt), Max Porter.

Replacements: Gary Andrews, Aidan McSwiggan, Stewart McKendrick, Ben McCaughey, Lewis Finlay, Ricky Greenwood.

HIGHFIELD: Luke Kingston; Sam Burns, Paddy O’Toole, Mark Dorgan, Paul Stack; Shane O’Riordan, Chris Banon (capt); James Rochford, Robert Murphy, Daragh Fitzgerald, Fintan O’Sullivan, Dave O’Connell, Ryan Murphy, Ronan O’Sullivan, Miah Cronin.

Replacements: Travis Coomey, Ian McCarthy, Cathal Gallagher, Eddie Earle, Sean Quaid, Colin O’Neill.

NAAS 20 OLD WESLEY 36, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Bryan Croke, Gary Kavanagh; Cons: Bryan Croke, Peter Osborne; Pens: Peter Osborne 2
Old Wesley: Tries: Nathan Randles, Tommy O’Callaghan 2, Paul Derham; Cons: Ian Cassidy, Paddy McKenzie; Pens: Ian Cassidy 4
HT: Naas 17 Old Wesley 6

Naas were numbed by a fiery second half comeback from second-placed Old Wesley, who rattled off four tries to grab an unlikely 36-20 bonus point win at Forenaughts.

Wesley’s unbeaten run was under serious threat at half-time, with Johne Murphy’s Cobras breaking into a 17-6 lead thanks to converted scores from backs Bryan Croke and Gary Kavanagh.

However, in a classic game of two halves, the Dubliners quietened the home crowd as they went up a couple of gears, Ian Cassidy finishing with 14 points from the tee and winger Tommy O’Callaghan weighing in with two tries.

Well-beaten on the road by Highfield, Naas were determined to make amends. Although a try went abegging when an overlap was not converted, a Peter Osborne penalty in the 16th minute got them off the mark.

The Naas captain missed a long-range kick before they opened their try account in the 22nd minute. Following some crisp handling, Osborne split the defence on a great line and passed inside for Croke to sprint clear and score, adding the conversion himself.

Wesley won a penalty from the restart, allowing scrum half Cassidy to kick their first points, but the same player hit the post from the tee in the 31st minute following a brilliant 30-metre surge by Will Fay.

A timely second try really lifted Murphy’s men, their half-backs unleashing centre Kavanagh who took on a mazy run, beating a number of defenders and Conor Gaston, the last man, with a great burst of pace.

Osborne’s conversion was cancelled out by a late Cassidy penalty, but Naas’ lead still looked a strong one early in the second period with Osborne firing home a penalty from distance, six minutes in.

Wesley had a swift response from Cassidy, though, and at 20-9 down, they were now playing with the benefit of an ever strengthening breeze. They went on to dominate the final half an hour.

The in-form Alastair Hoban brought them close to the Naas line, and Donal Conroy was sin-binned for playing the ball on the ground. A maul penalty followed, and from a second drive Cassidy passed for Nathan Randles to go over in the corner.

Wesley really turned the screw on the hour mark, with Fay and JJ O’Dea charging back into the Naas 22. Naas scrambled back but could not prevent O’Callaghan finishing in style in the corner, cutting the gap to 20-19.

Morgan Lennon’s side motored on with Cassidy, who continued to hurt Naas with his darting runs, adding a 64th minute penalty, and then five minutes later, Wesley were nine points to the good.

Replacement Paul Derham was released and his bustling 25-metre run took him through a couple of attempted tackles to score at the posts. Cassidy converted but Naas rallied and almost hit back with a late try.

Fionn Higgins was bundled into touch just a few metres out, in what proved to be their final chance. Instead, with the confidence of a team at the business end of the table, it was Wesley who pocketed a last-gasp bonus point.

Replacement Charlie O’Regan’s cross-field kick found its intended target in O’Callaghan who crossed in the corner. A well-struck conversion from Paddy McKenzie made it a 16-point winning margin.

– Photos by Ken Richardson

NAAS: Peter Osborne (capt); Donal Conroy, Gary Kavanagh, Matt Stapleton, Fionn Higgins; Bryan Croke, Tim Murphy; Adam Coyle, Connor Johnson, Peter King, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua.

Replacements: Paul Carroll, Conor Doyle, Cillian Dempsey, Patrick O’Flaherty, Connor Halpenny, Sam Cahill.

OLD WESLEY: Conor Gaston; Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, Eoin Deegan, Nathan Randles; Tim Clifford, Ian Cassidy; Harry Noonan, Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann (capt), Will Fay, Alastair Hoban, Reuben Pim.

Replacements: Howard Noonan, Sam Kenny, Paul Derham, David Poff, Paddy McKenzie, Charlie O’Regan.

NAVAN 30 BANBRIDGE 20, Balreask Old
Scorers: Navan: Tries: Evan Dixon, Paddy Fox 2; Cons: Mark Farrell 3; Pens: Mark Farrell 3
Banbridge: Tries: Conor Field, Neil Kilpatrick, Andrew Morrison; Con: Josh Cromie; Pen: Josh Cromie
HT: Navan 6 Banbridge 8

Navan royally celebrated their first Energia All-Ireland League win since December 2019, with full-back Paddy Fox’s second try of this bottom of the table clash sealing the result.

After Conor Field’s unconverted score had Banbridge 8-6 ahead at half-time, those in attendance at Balreask Old were treated to a rip-roaring second half that contained five tries and plenty of

Unfortunately for the visiting supporters and despite matching Navan’s three-try haul, a calamitous six-minute spell after the break ultimately denied Bann their first points of the Division 1B campaign.

The first half was a nip-and-tuck affair, enlivened by Field’s try which owed everything to the pace and vision of full-back Adam Doherty, whose entrance into the attacking line well inside his own half left the Navan defence floundering.

Either side of that five-pointer, Navan scrum half Mark Farrell pinged over two penalty goals to give the hosts the lead by the minimum margin.

However, a 31st-minute penalty from Doherty, which also saw Navan down to 14 men for a high tackle, had Mark McDowell’s men leading by two points at the turnaround.

Incredibly, by the 46th minute, Navan had sprinted into a 20-8 lead. Fox was central to the first try, blazing between defenders on the left wing and passing inside for centre Evan Dixon to round in to the posts.

Replacement Ben Daly then found Ben McEntagart with a brilliant kick over the top and he connected with the supporting Fox who had too much pace for the Bann rearguard. Farrell clipped over both conversions.

Banbridge wasted little time in responding, the clock showing 49 minutes when Doherty cut through again to put scrum half Neil Kilpatrick away to crash over to the right of the posts, despite two chasing defenders.

Doherty swept over the conversion and the visitors were back on level terms by the 55th minute. Centre Andrew Morrison was released for the left corner after Ulster’s Rob Lyttle was involved three times in a fluid build-up.

After Doherty’s missed conversion from the left touchline, Navan knuckled down again and Farrell swung over a penalty that gave the Meath men a fragile lead which they maintained until a frantic last few minutes.

Luck was not on Banbridge’s side again, as Lyttle had a try ruled out for a forward pass. Their forwards then had two late lineout opportunities, but Navan held out and won a clearing penalty.

After Bann infringed on two more occasions, Navan missed an injury-time penalty. Yet, just the visitors tried to counter from deep, they lost the ball in contact and replacement Liam McLoughlin slipped Fox away to complete his brace.

– Photos by Navan RFC

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

Replacements: David Clarke, Liam Carroll, Conor Ryan, Willie McAleese, Ben Daly, Liam McLoughlin.

BANBRIDGE: Adam Doherty; Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Robert Lyttle; Josh Cromie, Neil Kilpatrick; Michael Cromie (capt), Peter Cromie, Stuart Cromie, David O’Connor, Brendan McSorley, Matthew Laird, Max Lyttle, Robin Sinton.

Replacements: Timothy Savage, Josh Chambers, Alex Weir, Joshua Cunningham, Lewis Nelmes.

SHANNON 32 OLD BELVEDERE 10, Thomond Park back pitch
Scorers: Shannon: Tries: Jake Flannery 2, Killian Dineen, Ikem Ugwueru; Cons: Jake Flannery 3; Pens: Jake Flannery 2
Old Belvedere: Tries: James McKeown, Dean Moore
HT: Shannon 22 Old Belvedere 5

Munster’s Jake Flannery starred on his return to AIL action, tallying up 22 points as Shannon cruised to a 32-10 bonus point triumph over Old Belvedere on Thomond Park’s back pitch.

Stung by last week’s late loss in Armagh, this was much more like it from Shannon who broke decisively into a 22-5 half-time lead thanks to tries from Flannery (2) and Killian Dineen.

Belvedere struck early in both halves, with James McKeown’s intercept effort having opened the scoring, but a Flannery penalty and Ikem Ugwueru’s last-minute try gained the full five points for the hosts.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Shannon forwards coach Stephen Keogh told SRTV: “First of all, obviously we’re very happy with the result. I think after the week off, the guys came back in really good form.

“We spoke about just enjoying today’s game, and they came out today and I think they played well. Lots to improve on, but the guys will still be very happy with their performance.

“It’s great to have Jake back. I think Jake was delighted to come back as well. His attitude during the week was absolutely spot on, and I think he showed out there today that he’s a quality player.

“It’s a positive for Munster that he’s getting a game and it’s a real positive for us, we’re delighted to have him and he played really well.”

Old Belvedere struggled for possession early on but the sight of winger McKeown racing clear for his third try of the season gave them a massive boost. His seventh-minute score, in the corner, went unconverted.

Flannery replied with a well-struck penalty, three minutes later, on his first appearance for Shannon since February 2020. His younger brother Alan started at inside centre.

The elder Flannery, a Munster Academy graduate, increased his influence with a try a short while later. Ian Leonard pinned ‘Belvo back with a superb kick, the hosts stole the lineout and their Bansha-born number 10 sliced through for seven points.

With 23 minutes on the clock, Shannon pushed into a 17-5 lead and it all started with second row Sean McCarthy, their captain in the absence of Lee Nicholas, pinching another lineout.

Flannery was fed in midfield and he scampered through on a slaloming 40-metre run, using a dummy and showing good strength to ground the ball under pressure from the chasing Ariel Robles.

Belvedere continued to work off limited possession and fell further behind just before the break. Kelvin Brown carried strongly from a maul and Ronan Coffey gained further ground before centre Dineen was released by Flannery for the corner.

The Dubliners clawed back those five points early on the resumption, stand-in captain Dean Moore getting the ball down after a well-worked lineout drive out wide.

‘Belvo were a much-improved outfit during the second half, although the lineout was a real area of strength for Shannon and it was no surprise that hard-working hooker Jordan Prenderville was singled out as their play-of-the-match.

With the visitors pinged for not rolling away, Flannery flighted over a 73rd-minute penalty. A last-minute bonus point was supplied by winger Ugwueru who went in under the posts from a quick Aran Hehir pass.

SHANNON: Jamie McGarry; Ikem Ugwueru, Killian Dineen, Alan Flannery, Jack O’Donnell; Jake Flannery, Ian Leonard; Conor Glynn, Jordan Prenderville, Luke Rigney, Ronan Coffey, Sean McCarthy (capt), Kelvin Brown, Charlie Carmody, Daniel Okeke.

Replacements: Declan Moore, Darragh McSweeney, Kieran Ryan, John O’Sullivan, Aran Hehir, Odhran Ring.

OLD BELVEDERE: Colm Hogan; James McKeown, David Butler, Robbie Deegan, Ariel Robles; Justin Leonard, Briain Leonard; James Bollard, John McKee, Stewart Maguire, Dean Moore (capt), Paddy Dowling, Colin Mallon, Calum Dowling, Tom Ryan.

Replacements: Shane O’Hehir, Ryan McMahon, Fionn McWey, Will McDonald, Aaron Atkinson, Jack Gilheany.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 35 CITY OF ARMAGH 13, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Myles Carey 3, Matt Timmons, Daniel Lyons; Cons: Conor Dean 5
City of Armagh: Tries: Andrew Willis, Evin Crummie; Pen: Kyle Faloon
HT: St. Mary’s College 14 City of Armagh 8

Myles Carey showed his undoubted class with a tremendous hat-trick of tries as St. Mary’s College sauntered to a 35-13 bonus point success against previously-unbeaten City of Armagh.

The tricky centre typified Mary’s clinical edge on the day, as Armagh failed to take advantage of their dominance during a wind-backed first half, and the hosts made their pay after the break.

Out-half and player-of-the-match Conor Dean landed all five conversions for the victors, who have moved up to fifth place in the process. Two-try Armagh remain third overall.

It was all Armagh early on, with a succession of lineout mauls from penalties. However, Mary’s defended stoutly and repelled them, clearing their lines eventually after the visitors were penalised for obstruction.

Armagh’s top scorer this season, Kyle Faloon, did go close from a back-line, but against the run of play, Mary’s winger Matt Timmons intercepted a pass near his own 10-metre line and sprinted in under the posts for Dean to convert.

Armagh full-back Faloon was narrowly wide with a penalty in response, before they were finally rewarded in the 23rd minute. Centre Chris Colvin’s break set up Andrew Willis to go over in the corner, Faloon failing with a conversion that hit the post.

The same player punished a high tackle in the 36th minute, his well-directed place-kick nudging Armagh ahead at 8-7. They were a whisker away from a second try with Matthew Hooks penalised for a double movement.

Nonetheless, Mary’s closed out the first half with a real sucker-punch score. Dean profited from a wicked bounce to gather his own kick and then chipped to the left for Carey to expertly scoop the ball up and glide home.

Into a swirling wind, Dean added a cracking conversion to put six points between the teams. Mary’s made it back-to-back tries in the 46th minute, flanker Daniel Lyons popping up in support to touch down.

Ian Wickham and the returning Ronan Watters had laid the groundwork for the score, Mary’s captain Richie Halpin carving through the defence and timing his pass to perfection. Dean’s conversion made it 21-8.

Connacht scrum half Colm Reilly had a very good cameo off the hosts’ bench, drawing a penalty at a scrum. From the ensuing maul, Dean put Carey through a sliver of space and he got past two defenders for the bonus point score.

Armagh lost replacement James Morton to a red card in the 53rd minute, after he caught Carey with a high tackle. The latter completed his hat-trick, 11 minutes later, when fastening onto a dabbed kick through from Dean.

Mary’s were rampant at times and full value for their bonus point haul, but credit to 14-man Armagh, they kept plugging away and were rewarded with a last-minute consolation try from centre Evin Crummie.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Armagh head coach Chris Parker said: “I was pleased with our forward efforts today, particularly at scrum time. Our mistakes, however, were punished ruthlessly by a St. Mary’s side that will be promotion challengers at the end of the season.

“We need to eliminate a lot of errors from our game and I’m glad we have an opportunity to rectify matters with a home game next Saturday.”

– Photos by Paul Lundy

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, Liam Corcoran, Ian Wickham, Daniel Lyons, Niall Hurley, Ronan Watters.

Replacements: Steven O’Brien, Padraig Dundon, Loris Nikolov, Ryan O’Loughlin, Colm Reilly, Dave Fanagan.

CITY OF ARMAGH: Kyle Faloon; Andrew Willis, Chris Colvin (capt), Evin Crummie, Matthew Hooks; Harry Boyd, Alex Johnston; Paul Mullen, Jonny Morton, Philip Fletcher, John Glasgow Josh McKinley, James Hanna, Ryan O’Neill, Neil Faloon.

Replacements: Jack Treanor, Peter Lamb, Ryan Finlay, James Morton, Gerard Treanor, Tim McNiece.