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Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Divisions 1B-2C Round 18 Review

Energia All-Ireland League: Men’s Divisions 1B-2C Round 18 Review

Scrum half Matthew Keane breaks through to score Instonians' fourth unconverted try against Bective Rangers ©INPHO/Ben Whitley

Johne Murphy’s Naas booked the last promotion play-off spot in Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B with a barnstorming 53-7 victory over Old Belvedere at Forenaughts.

Energia All-Ireland League: Results Round-Up

Centre Gary Kavanagh starred with a hat-trick of tries in a swashbuckling team performance. Naas captain Peter Osborne landed eight successful kicks for an 18-point contribution, which pushes him through the 200-point mark for the season.

The Cobras will be away to Old Wesley in their promotion semi-final clash on Saturday, April 23. Wesley were already guaranteed to finish first, so head coach Morgan Lennon rotated his squad for their trip to Shannon today and they fell to a thumping 61-12 defeat.

Shannon needed the bonus point win to give them a shot at finishing second and gaining home advantage for their semi-final. However, despite a terrific nine-try display with the Ulster-bound Jake Flannery adding six conversions, Pat O’Connor’s men had to settle for third place.

Highfield will entertain Shannon at Woodleigh Park following a hard-fought 28-24 triumph at St. Mary’s College. Mary’s were still in play-off contention in Steven Hennessy’s final league game in charge, but replacement John McLoughlin’s 67th-minute try proved decisive for the Cork outfit.

Malone finished clear of relegation trouble with Ulster’s Aaron Sexton scoring a hat-trick of tries in their 64-24 win at Navan. The Meath men will go head-to-head with Banbridge over two legs, with the losers dropping down to the third tier.

Mark McDowell’s Bann team will take momentum into that relegation tussle, having claimed the Ulster derby spoils at City of Armagh. They had two tries in each half, one each from Max Lyttle and Josh Cromie along with two penalty tries.


Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): Old Wesley v Naas, Energia Park; Highfield v Shannon, Woodleigh Park
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): Navan v Banbridge, Balreask Old
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): Banbridge v Navan, Rifle Park

Two maul tries from Ireland Under-20 hooker James McCormick set up Ballymena’s 33-20 win over Queen’s University, the team they will be travelling to in the Division 2A promotion play-offs.

Buccaneers, 43-38 winners over Cashel, face a return trip to Tipperary. In the bottom half, Nenagh Ormond’s reward for a fine 45-28 success at MU Barnhall is home advantage in the second leg of the relegation play-off.

Nenagh’s hopes of survival hinge on beating Rainey Old Boys on aggregate, the Magherafelt club having completed the regular season with a 33-10 loss at Old Crescent.

10-7 behind at the break, Crescent seized control in the second half with John Hurley’s 50th-minute break sending Val McDermott over for a try. There were further efforts from Hurley, Ronan McKenna and Dean O’Grady.

A Daryl Foley penalty was Dolphin’s only second score as they edged out Munster rivals UL Bohemians 22-19. Captain Kevin Allen, Dave O’Mahony and Cian Fitzgerald crossed for their earlier tries.


Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): Queen’s University v Ballymena, Dub Lane; Cashel v Buccaneers, Spafield
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): Rainey Old Boys v Nenagh Ormond, Hatrick Park
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): Nenagh Ormond v Rainey Old Boys, New Ormond Park

Greystones finished top of the pile in Division 2B thanks to a 19-7 victory in Dunngannon. First half tries from Matt O’Brien and South African hooker Ntuthuku Mthembu laid solid foundations for Kevin Lewis’ ‘Stones.

Belfast Harlequins snuck into second spot, rewarded for winning 45-33 at Malahide while Galway Corinthians claimed the last semi-final place after edging out Blackrock College 31-24.

Matthew Devine, another of the Ireland U-20 Grand Slam heroes, came off the bench to run in the match-winning try for Corinthians. The division’s relegation play-off is all-Connacht affair between Ballina and Galwegians.

Galwegians won today’s dress rehearsal 20-14 on Heffernan Park’s all-weather pitch, winger Matt Dever dotting down in the 10th minute to reward some patient build-up play from the visitors.

Scrum half Cian Quinn soon scampered over to put Ballina in front – 7-5 – but the Blues took advantage of a sin-binning as their forwards piled on the pressure and prop Finn Wright wrestled his way over from a ruck.

‘Wegians turned around with a 17-7 buffer, a late Rob Deacy break and a nice attack off a lineout released full-back Conor O’Shaughnessy for a seven-pointer. Ballina fell short despite adding a second converted try.

Wanderers were squeezed out of the promotion play-offs, finishing just two points behind Corinthians. A quick-fire brace from Mark O’Reilly and a terrific Ben Mahon try capped off an excellent 46-10 win for Eoin Sheriff’s men at home to Sligo.

Wanderers had some consolation as they set a new All-Ireland League record for the number of bonus points won across a regular season. They accumulated 18 – twelve try bonuses and six losing ones – to beat Highfield’s previous best of 17.


Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): Greystones v Galway Corinthians, Dr Hickey Park; Belfast Harlequins v Blackrock College, Deramore Park
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): Galwegians v Ballina, Crowley Park
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): Ballina v Galwegians, Heffernan Park

Skerries will be at home to Bangor in the Division 2C promotion play-offs, their full-back Ronan Mulcahy coolly landing a crucial last-gasp penalty to see them pip Omagh Academicals 22-21 in Tyrone.

Impressive table toppers Enniscorthy will host Tullamore, Ben Manion’s charges getting the better of Midleton on a 29-24 scoreline despite losing both Nick Doyle and Richard Dunne to the sin bin, either side of half-time.

Daniel Pim and Liam Stamp both crossed for ‘Scorthy inside the opening 10 minutes, using the maul and scrum to very good effect. Talismanic centre Doyle added the third try for a 21-5 half-time lead.

However, mid-table Midleton hung in there and made a real fight of it, hitting back with three more tries. A Michael Farrell effort was enough to get the Wexford men over the finish line, though.

Sunday‘s Well ensured their safety with a nail-biting 25-24 win at Clonmel. It was drama right to the finish as Denis Hurley’s side needed a penalty in the dying seconds to prevail.

19-year-old scrum half Fabian Loughrey, the youngest member of the squad, showed nerves of steel to steer his kick between the posts having only just missed a penalty from further out.

Leading 24-22, Clonmel overcooked their restart which went out on the full. The determined ‘Well pack forced a penalty from the resulting scrum on the hosts’ 22 and up stepped Loughrey to secure their senior status for next season.

Clonmel ran in four tries on their home patch, including a hat-trick from excellent centre Luke Hogan. Adam Browne’s opening try for Sunday’s Well owed much to Cormac Kelliher’s lineout steal and Shane Desmond’s strong clear-outs.

Out-half Luke Noonan hit back for Ian Keatley’s men, skating down the right wing to score, and Darren Cass converted two well-taken tries from Hogan to give them a 19-8 interval lead.

Hogan duly completed his hat-trick courtesy of a superb solo run, which cancelled out a try from Sunday’s Well replacement Michael Moynihan.

The ‘Well turned to their reliable and robust lineout maul, James Mulcahy grounding the ball for Loughrey to convert and leave just two points in it. Moynihan fired up the scrum for one big final shove, and Loughrey did the rest.

That breathless finish at Ardgaoithe means that City of Derry will contest the relegation play-off with Clonmel despite their 49-28 triumph over Tullamore.

Derry could not have done any more, Davy Graham weighing in with a hat-trick of tries, David Lapsley bagging a brace and out-half Alex McDonnell kicking 19 points.

Third-placed Bangor ran out 38-20 bonus point winners at Bruff, their tries coming from Shay Storey and Paddy Dobie, who both touched down twice, and Charlie Clegg. Out-half Gareth Millar kicked 13 points.


Promotion Play-Off Semi-Finals (April 23): Enniscorthy v Tullamore, Alcast Park; Skerries v Bangor, Holmpatrick
Promotion Play-Off Final (April 30): Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Relegation Play-Off First Leg (April 23): Clonmel v City of Derry, Ardgaoithe
Relegation Play-Off Second Leg (April 30): City of Derry v Clonmel, Judge’s Road


Scorers: Bective Rangers: Tries: Bobby Holland, Matthew Keane, Denis Coulson; Cons: Matthew Gilsenan 3
Instonians: Tries: Matthew Kilpatrick, Andrew Keane 2, Zak Davidson, Matthew Keane
HT: Bective Rangers 7 Instonians 15

Whoever loses out in the Division 2C relegation shootout will be replaced by Instonians who won a thrilling Round Robin Qualifying final against Bernard Jackman’s Bective Rangers at Dundalk RFC.

Replacement Andrew Keane’s well-worked try – his second of the game – in the left corner gave Inst enough of a cushion in an eventual 25-21 win.

Bective got off to a bright start, impressing with ball in hand and centre Bobby Holland cut in from the left wing for an early try which Matthew Gilsenan converted.

Instonians are coached by Paul Pritchard with former Ulster full-back Louis Ludik also part of the coaching ticket. Some nice interplay between their backs, led by Ruairi O’Farrell, ended with winger Matthew Kilpatrick crossing in the right corner.

Working off the stronger set piece throughout, Inst took the lead when a monster maul saw them go close before Bevan Prinsloo and Mark Keane got their hands free in tackles to get the ball wide for Andrew Keane to score.

A third unconverted try followed from Zak Davidson, giving Inst a 15-7 half-time advantage despite Ryan Hanson’s sin-binning for hands in the ruck. Mark Keane was tackled just short from his searing midfield break, but Davidson pounced on the loose ball to score.

Gilsenan missed a first half penalty but converted replacement Matthew Keane’s try early in the second period, as the Dubliners’ forwards went the direct route from a quick tap and Keane crashed in beside the posts to make it a one-point game.

Inst put big pressure on at scrum time, earning a series of penalties but turning down kicks at goals. Bective were holding out, yet a harsh call against Shane O’Meara saw the winger sin-binned for a knock-on in a tackle.

Inst responded by putting some vital daylight between the teams, their influential scrum half Matthew Keane darting over from a close-in scrum and a few minutes later, neat passing from O’Farrell, Pritchard and Mark Keane released Andrew Keane for his second of the afternoon.

Now trailing by 11 points, Bective upped the tempo and Inst replacement Matthew Nelson saw yellow for not being back 10 metres at a penalty. Denis Coulson was unstoppable from eight metres out, Gilsenan’s conversion putting Rangers right back in contention.

They engineered one final opportunity from a penalty near Instonians’ 10-metre line, close to the right touchline. The left-footed Danie Poolman was called up to go for touch, but the former Connacht winger unfortunately miscued his kick and the ball went dead.

BECTIVE RANGERS: Ben Garrett; Shane O’Meara, Bobby Holland, Elliot Stone, Michael O’Hare; Matthew Gilsenan, Dylan Carpenter; Rodrigo Gens, Fox Fallon, Colin Jackson, Gerard Warde, Oisin Lennon (capt), Jamie Lawless, Mark Bennett, Donagh Lawlor.

Replacements: Daniel Byrne, Tom Dever, David Kealy, Eoin Vaughan, Matthew Keane, James O’Kane, Danie Poolman, Denis Coulson.

INSTONIANS: Mark Keane; Zak Davidson, Bevan Prinsloo, David Scott, Matthew Kilpatrick; Ruairi O’Farrell, Matthew Keane; Conor Gallagher, Neil Saultiers, Alan Whitten (capt), Eoghan Murphy, Josh Hartley, Mark Mairs, Paul Pritchard, Alistair Burke.

Replacements: Frazer Laughlin, Onisi Burekama, Terence Coombs, Ryan Hanson, Richard McCarthy, Matthew Nelson, Andrew Keane, Ross Jenkins.