The top of the table showdown in Division 2B was won by Greystones in convincing fashion, while Ben Kidd’s late conversion saw Enniscorthy draw with Malahide to claim their first Energia All-Ireland League points.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2B – ROUND 3:
Saturday, October 15 –
Belfast Harlequins 38 Galwegians 22, Deramore Park
Dungannon 28 Wanderers 19, Stevenson Park
Galway Corinthians 17 Greystones 45, Corinthian Park
Malahide 12 Enniscorthy 12, Estuary Road
Sligo 13 Rainey Old Boys 14, Hamilton Park
Greystones’ well-drilled pack laid solid foundations for an impressive 45-17 win away to Galway Corinthians, the second round leaders. They played the better rugby in very difficult conditions out west.
It was very much game on at half-time, the division’s early pacesetters sitting on 12 points each with Corinthians twice taking the lead, aided by the presence of returning Emerging Ireland centre Cathal Forde.
It was Forde, the Connacht Academy graduate, who opened the scoring at Corinthian Park. He floored Greystones with an intercept near his own line and a burst of pace that took him clear to go in under the posts.
The two sets of forwards went at it hammer and tongs, Greystones forcing a penalty try before Corinthians responded with an unconverted effort from a lineout maul on the half hour mark.
Replacement winger Tommy New brought ‘Stones level for the break, scoring from a Mick Doyle pass. Killian Marmion hit the post with the conversion, but he went on to have a huge influence on the second half.
With the wind now behind them, the Wicklow outfit began to dictate play through their carrying and clever tactical kicking from Marmion. It was the talented out-half who put them ahead for the first time.
With 43 minutes on the clock, Marmion brilliantly sliced through the home defence from just outside their 22, his sidestepping and injection of pace taking him to the whitewash. He also supplied the conversion for a 19-12 lead.
Marmion pushed ‘Stones onto 25 points, following two well-struck penalties with one of them just inside the visitors’ half. Corinthians stayed in the fight, winger Adam Madden grabbing their third try from a ‘Stones error.
However, Danny Kenny’s men, driven on by scrum half and player-of-the-match David Baker, went on to dominate the final quarter as they wrapped up their third victory of the campaign.
Hooker Robert Byrne, following up on his disrupting of a Corinthian maul, crossed from a ‘Stones lineout drive to bag the bonus point. A Marmion penalty was followed by a Doyle try from close range.
The sixth and final ‘Stones try saw centre Matt O’Brien capitalise on a Corinthians mistake in possession, hacking the ball through to make it a 28-point winning margin.
Dungannon earned their second try-scoring bonus point of the season when seeing off 14-man Wanderers at Stevenson Park. Player-of-the-match Ben McCaughey kicked all four conversions in a 28-19 win.
Wanderers were made to pay for their indiscipline – they received three yellow cards and a red during the first half alone – but did salvage some pride with a couple of late tries from Jamie Murphy and Jonny Glynn.
Dungannon capitalised on Brian Quill’s sin-binning when Andrew McGregor rounded the defence to claim the opening try, early in the second quarter.
Eoin O’Shaughnessy got Wanderers off the mark, making it a two-point game, before ‘Gannon flooded forward again. Wanderers lost prop Sean Goodburn to the bin for a deliberate knock-on.
Centre James Girvan turned the pressure into points, his 32nd-minute try converted by McCaughey for a 14-5 interval lead. However, they did suffer some late disruption.
‘Gannon winger Jordan McIlwaine had to be carried off due to the dangerous tackle which saw Wanderers down to 14 men for the remainder. Alex Kennedy replaced him and went on to have an eventful second half.
It was end-to-end stuff on the resumption, Wanderers lifting the tempo in attack but failing to take advantage of Kennedy’s sin-binning for a high tackle. Instead it was the home side who pushed further clear.
After busy number 8 Adam Milligan was tackled into touch a few minutes earlier, there was no budging prop James Gamble when he crashed over for McCaughey to make it 21-5.
Wanderers rallied and elusive winger Murphy brought it back to a seven-point game, only for Kennedy to settle the issue with a pacy burst to the line inside the final few minutes.
Belfast Harlequins set up a top of the table clash with Greystones in the next round, following their 38-22 triumph over Galwegians at Deramore Park.
Galwegians were always playing catch-up after leaking three tries inside the opening 23 minutes, but their persistence paid off. Darragh Kennedy’s late bonus point score rewarded a resilient performance, which included braces for both Mark Earle and Kennedy.
Flanker Eddie Gorrod, the eventual player-of-the-match, scored from a late pick-and-go to give Harlequins a 26-5 half-time lead. The earlier tries came from Stephen Hunter, Ross Bingham and debutant winger Andy Butler.
‘Quins added two more tries as they made it three wins out of three. Sean Shuttleworth got his name on the scoresheet and replacement hooker Joel Dundas drove over from a 71st-minute lineout maul.
Harlequins centre Kieran Tomlinson commented afterwards: “We started the game strongly, scoring four tries before half-time and taking the game away from Galwegians. They brought a physical game-plan and I thought we handled that very well.
“We have a few things to tidy up over the next week, to make sure we go into the next block (of fixtures) even stronger.”
Promising prop Grant Palmer, who has been called up to the Ireland Under-19 squad, played his part in Enniscorthy’s fight-back to earn a share of the spoils with hosts Malahide.
‘Scorthy were trailing 12-5 when quick hands released Palmer and winger David O’Dwyer, and the pair converted a two-on-one with O’Dwyer darting clear to score. Kidd squared things up by landing the all-important extras.
There were mixed emotions for both sides at the finish, Malahide left to rue their failure to add a try to Dave O’Halloran’s four penalties. He had them leading 6-0 at half-time.
Nonetheless, in windy conditions, there was a missed drop goal late on and O’Halloran also nudged a tightly-angled penalty wide. The win fell out of their grasp with a yellow card also proving costly.
Enniscorthy finished strongly, the highlight being O’Dwyer’s score, and they too will feel it was a result that they left behind them. Replacement Michael O’Farrell scored their earlier try, following good work in the build-up from Nick Doyle and Palmer.
Scott McLean’s last-gasp conversion gave Rainey Old Boys a gritty 14-13 victory at Sligo. A sustained bout of pressure led to Rainey’s influential captain Tommy O’Hagan barging over right at the death.
O’Hagan had earlier supplied the assist for Moli Faiva’s second try of the campaign. The former Ulster prop gobbled up a loose Sligo lineout, charging up to the hosts’ 10-metre line before dishing off for the pacy Faiva to finish at the posts.
That try was sandwiched by two Euan Brown penalties, leaving Sligo just 7-6 behind at the break. The home side mauled well on the resumption, earning a penalty try to take the lead.
Credit to Daire Byrne for setting up the opportunity from the initial penalty, and the reliable set-piece connection between Shane O’Hehir and Rob Holian.
Unfortunately for Sligo, their lead remained at a single point despite their best efforts to add to it. Instead it was Rainey who prevailed in a dramatic finish, with O’Hagan and McLean deciding this 88-minute blockbuster.
– Photos by John Crothers Sports Photography, Sara Turkington (Dungannon RFC), and Jean McConnell (Sligo RFC)