Closing tries from Mark Corby and Ryan Lehane saw Midleton overcome Richmond 29-17 to hold onto their place in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2C for next season.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2C PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
Saturday, April 29 –
MIDLETON 29 RICHMOND 17, Towns Park
Scorers: Midleton: Tries: Stuart Lee, Mark Stanton, Mark Corby, Ryan Lehane; Cons: Stuart Lee 3; Pen: Stuart Lee
Richmond: Tries: Brian Mullins, Shane Halpin; Cons: Tadhg Bennett 2; Pen: Tadhg Bennett
HT: Midleton 14 Richmond 3
Lining out at out-half, Midleton player coach Stuart Lee also played a key role in this vital play-off final victory, with his 14-point haul including the game’s opening try.
Munster Junior League champions Richmond really put it up to their hosts at Towns Park. They capitalised on a Denis Broderick yellow card to draw level at 17 points apiece.
Tadhg Bennett converted well-taken tries from Brian Mullins and Shane Halpin, but Midleton’s superior maul helped them to wrestle back control and pick off two more decisive scores.
Midleton stalwart Aidan ‘Mahaf’ McCarthy, who was back on the field after retiring six years ago, had the desired impact off the bench. He won a crucial late penalty at the breakdown.
The 47-year-old forward was part of the east Cork club’s team that earned promotion to the All-Ireland League back in 1998. He was delighted to give ‘a dig out’ to what is a young current side and get them over the line.
McCarthy watched on from the touchline as Ken Murphy’s charges took a 7-0 lead. Lee hit the crossbar with a long-range penalty before exploiting some space out wide to run in a try he converted himself.
A Bennett penalty got Richmond on the board, with the visitors’ scrum gaining the upper hand in this bruising Munster derby.
Midleton dominated the lineouts, though, and stole three throws during a bout of Richmond pressure as they managed to turn around with a 14-3 advantage.
Mark Stanton broke through impressively for a seven-pointer before the interval, but despite a Lee penalty after the restart, the sin-binning of influential lock Broderick for a high tackle allowed the Limerick men to build momentum.
Former Shannon star Bennett added the extras to efforts from big centre Mullins, who had been held up just before the interval, and winger Halpin who used his pace to go over in the corner.
However, the Cork outfit got back on top during the closing stages. Powerful carrying and driving from their forwards were key factors in a Corby try that edged them back in front. Lehane followed up with a similar effort late on.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – UPCOMING FIXTURES:
Saturday, May 6 –
Kick-off 2.30pm unless stated –
MEN’S DIVISION 1A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
Shannon v Highfield, Thomond Park back pitch
MEN’S DIVISION 1B PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
Blackrock College v MU Barnhall, Stradbrook
MEN’S DIVISION 2A PROMOTION/RELEGATION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
UL Bohemians v Dungannon, Annacotty
MEN’S DIVISION 2B PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL:
Skerries v Bruff, Holmpatrick
Sunday, May 7 –
MEN’S DIVISION 1A FINAL:
Clontarf v Terenure College, Aviva Stadium, 3pm