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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2A: Round 2 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2A: Round 2 Review

Dolphin centre Sam Boyle breaks through to score a superb solo try during their home win over Blackrock College ©Declan Forrest/Dolphin RFC

Queen’s University and Nenagh Ormond doubled their win tallies in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2A. There were maiden victories for Ballymena, Cashel and Dolphin.


Saturday, October 8 –

Ballymena 20 Navan 14, Eaton Park
Cashel 32 UL Bohemians 9, Spafield
Dolphin 35 Blackrock College 8, Musgrave Park
Nenagh Ormond 25 MU Barnhall 22, New Ormond Park
Old Crescent 24 Queen’s University 36, Takumi Park

Dolphin bounced back from last week’s losing start with a tremendous 35-8 win over Blackrock College. Former Cork Constitution out-half Tomas Quinlan came into the team and converted all five tries.

Brian Scott’s men were in rejuvenated form, pressing from some early penalties and lineouts before number 8 Craig O’Herlihy barged in between two defenders to score in the 10th minute, just to the right of the posts.

Just when Blackrock appeared to be building something, Brian O’Mahony’s lineout steal was worked across the Dolphin back-line and centre Sam Boyle set off on a dazzling 80-metre run that delivered their second converted try.

Boyle created some space with an initial fend, accelerating through a gap on the right wing. Full-back James Moriarty was left for dead with a slick sidestep and the chasing pack were unable to catch Boyle as he crossed in the corner.

The final 15 minutes of the first half saw Blackrock make a number of visits to the Dolphin 22, with Peter Quirke opening their account with a penalty. Yet, the Dolphin attack continued to pick off scores.

Five minutes before the break, soft hands from Dave O’Mahony sent James Rochford charging through the middle and he fed the supporting Ryan Foley to go in behind the posts. It was 21-3 following the conversion from Quinlan, who also had a key involvement in the build-up.

The third quarter was blighted by yellow cards. Boyle and full-back Daryl Foley were sent to the sin bin for Dolphin, but Blackrock could not take advantage despite dictating play.

A forward pass ruled a try out and ‘Rock also had a promising maul brought to ground. 13-man Dolphin broke back downfield, with ‘Rock scrum half Ross Barron having thrown an intercept pass. He then saw yellow for a deliberate slap down.

Neither team could make the breakthrough until the 72nd minute, Barron’s replacement Mark Edwards using a quick tap to scamper through, draw in two defenders and offload for Moriarty to cross from a couple of metres out.

Nonetheless, in a frantic finish, Dolphin pocketed their bonus point and a fifth try to boot. Centre Cameron O’Shaughnessy touched down on the left before retrieving possession from ‘Rock’s short restart, breaking deep into the opposition half and putting replacement Alex Pope in behind the posts.

Ballymena battled back from an eight-point first half deficit to beat Navan 20-14. It was the Braidmen’s first league victory under Andy Hughes and an important marker to lay down.

“To be honest it could have gone either way towards the end there,” admitted head coach Hughes. “We hung in. We probably went into ourselves a wee bit towards the end.

“But credit to the guys, they fought really hard the last 20 minutes. Some great defensive sets, so I’m over the moon (with the result).”

Replying to an early Callum Patterson penalty, a bout of forward pressure resulted in an opening try for Navan. Hardus van Eeden hurtled onto a quick tap and was stopped just short, before loosehead Ryan Healy managed to burrow over.

Patterson answered back with his second long-range penalty, but more good work from Navan’s sizable pack forced Ballymena prop Andrew Ferguson to come in at the side of a maul and receive a yellow card.

There was no escape for Hughes’ men, a determined lineout drive creating a try for Navan hooker Jack Nelson. Colm O’Reilly knocked over his second successful conversion for a 14-6 lead.

Crucially, Ballymena were able to squeeze in a late try to make it a one-point game at the interval. Navan lock Conor Hand was binned for a deliberate knock-on, and Oisin Jordan powered over from the resulting scrum.

The second period was dominated by long defensive sets, big hits and fiercely-contested breakdowns. The only score came in the 49th minute when Ballymena captain Glenn Baillie opened up the visitors’ defence.

Following a missed O’Reilly penalty, the Ulster outfit set up a lineout opportunity, Baillie seizing his chance to ghost through with a neat show-and-go. Patterson trailed him and was rewarded with a try behind the posts.

Patterson’s conversion took his own tally to 15 points, and Navan fell short in their attempts to respond with Ballymena’s reinforced defence holding them at bay, including some important penalty wins at the breakdown.

A penalty try and a last-gasp Josh Pickering effort gave Cashel a 32-9 bonus point triumph over UL Bohemians. Two Harry Byrne penalties – he kicked three in all – halved the deficit for UL until the Tipperary side’s late surge.

Byrne (15 minutes) and Ryan O’Sullivan (22) had swapped earlier penalties before Cashel pushed on to lead 15-3 at half-time. Their scrum was very much on top, and their lineout was also improved from last week.

Winger O’Sullivan ran in the first try nearing the half hour mark at Spafield, darting clear to go over in the corner after good work from Richard Kingston, Argentinian Alfredo Bergada and James Ryan.

Five minutes later, Cashel were over again. This time flanker Ryan was the scorer, popping up on Brian O’Connor’s shoulder to finish off an attack started by the high-fielding Kingston back inside his own half.

Bohs had some encouraging spells either side of the break, with two Byrne kicks cancelling out an O’Sullivan strike. However, Cashel’s scrum forced a penalty try late on and Pickering claimed the bonus point after some terrific interplay between backs and forwards.

High-flying Nenagh Ormond continued their strong start to the campaign with a 25-22 defeat of MU Barnhall. David Gleeson, John Healy and Josh Rowland had a try each, with James Finn kicking 10 points.

On a day on which scrum half Nicky Irwin made his 50th AIL appearance for Nenagh, they bookended the first half with tries to lead 14-12 at half-time. Adam Chester kicked four penalties for Barnhall.

Chester’s precise place-kicking kept the Blue Bulls in the hunt, firing over his fifth penalty before his conversion of Cathal Duff’s try – the replacement hooker charged over from a ruck, taking advantage of two missed tackles – had them level at 22-all.

Yet, replacement Finn landed the second of two late place-kicks to split the sides. Despite pushing a penalty wide, a dramatic conclusion saw centre Healy get in over the ball at the breakdown, set up the decisive three-pointer for Finn.

Leaders Queen’s University prevailed 36-24 away to Old Crescent, needing a final quarter rally which produced tries from Jonny Hunter and Alexander Clarke (pictured above) to take the spoils at Takumi Park.

Queen’s had continued where they left off against Dolphin, putting together three tries inside the opening quarter. Jack Boal, Graham Curtis and Curtis Pollock all touched down as the students led 19-0.

Ireland Under-18 international Stephen Kiely picked off two tries for Crescent – the first one showcasing his sidestepping ability from out wide, and the second from close range – but a Gary Dillon effort on the stroke of half-time made it 24-14.

Ronan McKenna converted an Aaron Cosgrove try and tagged on a penalty to draw the Limerick men level, their hopes of an upset rising with Queen’s young lock Charlie Irvine red carded for what was deemed a dangerous clear-out at a ruck.

Derek Suffern’s youngsters showed their composure, though, as their lightning-quick back-three combined for Hunter’s lead score in the 66th minute. Barely three minutes later, hooker Clarke broke off a maul to claim try number six.