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Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B: Round 2 Review

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1B: Round 2 Review

Highfield's Shane O'Riordan kicks the match-winning drop goal against Blackrock College at Stradbrook ©John Crothers Sports Photography

With back-to-back bonus point wins, St. Mary’s College are setting the pace at the top of Division 1B, closely followed by Highfield who came from 14 points down to beat Blackrock College thanks to Shane O’Riordan’s last-minute drop goal.


Saturday, October 14 –

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Scorers: Blackrock College: Tries: Josh Dixon, Cian Reilly, Andrew Savage; Cons: Oliver Coffey 3
Highfield: Tries: Dave O’Sullivan 2, Travis Coomey; Cons: Shane O’Riordan 3; Drop: Shane O’Riordan
HT: Blackrock College 21 Highfield 14

Blackrock and 14-man Highfield played out a six-try Energia All-Ireland League thriller at Stradbrook where the Cork outfit twice trailed by two converted tries, but 10 unanswered second half points saw them prevail in dramatic fashion.

With the benefit of a strong wind behind them, Blackrock built some early momentum but a fiercely-contested forwards battle developed with scrum penalties and maul turnovers at both ends.

Highfield’s Dave O’Sullivan displayed his ball-carrying threat with a midfield break, but the deadlock was broken by ‘Rock in the 17th minute. A clever move at a close-in lineout saw Josh Dixon take a return pass from Niall Hardiman and nip over in the left corner.

Ireland Under-19 international Oliver Coffey converted from out wide, and he also added the extras to blindside Cian Reilly’s 20th-minute effort which saw him squeeze over from a ruck. They had been brought right back into scoring range by James Moriarty’s sidestepping break from deep.

Highfield managed to cut the deficit in half when centre O’Sullivan powered in between two defenders for the first of his two tries. However, from ‘Rock’s next visit to the 22 on the half hour mark, they went the direct route to register their third converted try.

Graham Curtis built up a head of steam to crash past three defenders, taking the hosts within metres of the line, and prop Andrew Savage took contact before expertly driving out to his left where we was able to reach out and score.

Crucially, Highfield were then given prime field position with ‘Rock fumbling the restart kick. Jamie Shanahan and captain Miah Cronin both carried well before O’Sullivan took advantage of two missed tackles to bag his brace, with O’Riordan converting.

The visitors lost lock John O’Callaghan to the sin bin, as he was caught offside as they frantically tried to keep the south Dubliners out late on. Big number 8 Matthew Cosgrove was held up under the posts.

Both sides’ execution let them down early in the second period. Moriarty was held up short, and Gavin O’Leary was swiftly in at the breakdown to win a clearing penalty for Highfield.

Reset scrums slowed up proceedings, but Highfield suffered a big setback in the 56th minute when replacement prop James Rochford was sent off for a high tackle on Blackrock’s Paul McSweeney. There was head contact, with Eoin Keating also involved in the challenge.

The red card seemed to inspire the best out of Highfield. They went close from a five-metre lineout, before their persistence eventually paid off. Travis Coomey stretched out to score from a 72nd-minute lineout, after Cronin had attacked the blindside and combined neatly with the reserve hooker.

Up stepped O’Riordan to rifle over the conversion, leaving it 21-all. Blackrock were unable to convert a promising Curtis run into points, and O’Riordan, having narrowly missed a monster penalty attempt, coolly dropped an 86th-minute goal to reward the tireless work of his forwards.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Matthew MacCarthy; Graham Curtis, David Heavey, Brian Colclough (co-capt), Chris Rolland; James Moriarty, Oliver Coffey; Paul McSweeney, Niall Hardiman, Andrew Savage, Louis Keyes, Roy Whelan, Cian Reilly, Josh Dixon, Matthew Cosgrove.

Replacements: Liam Nicholson, Jack Mullany, Jack Gardiner, Dave Fortune, Ethan Lyons, Ross Barron.

HIGHFIELD: Jamie Shanahan; Gavin O’Leary, Ben Murphy, Dave O’Sullivan, Timothy Duggan; Shane O’Riordan, Chris Banon; Cillian Buckley, Robert Murphy, Daragh Fitzgerald, John O’Callaghan, Eoin Keating, Dave O’Connell, Liam Fahy, Miah Cronin (capt).

Replacements: Travis Coomey, James Rochford, Sean Garrett, Glen Stokes, Shane Buckley, Colin O’Neill.

BUCCANEERS 20 UCC 36, Dubarry Park
Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: James Kelly, Cian McCann, Matthew Victory; Con: Michael Hanley; Pen: Michael Hanley
UCC: Tries: Louis Bruce, Eanna McCarthy, Killian Coghlan; Cons: Daniel Squires 3; Pens: Daniel Squires 5
HT: Buccaneers 5 UCC 23

Three-try UCC did most of the damage in the first half as they got the better of Buccaneers at Dubarry Park. Their biggest scoring contribution came from centre Daniel Squires who kicked a handsome 21 points.

Hooker Luke McAuliffe was rock solid at the breakdown to win a first-minute penalty, allowing Squires to give UCC a lead they only relinquished once. Buccs enjoyed an early purple patch and they had to be patient before getting on the scoreboard.

Cathal Walshe’s penalty win went unrewarded and they had two further lineout opportunities near the left corner, before Connacht’s Josh O’Connor carried up hard off the side of a scrum. Supported by Luke Balsiger, prop James Kelly was able to rumble over for the opening try.

After the wind pushed Michael Hanley’s conversion attempt away to the right, Sam O’Sullivan drew a high tackle in midfield and Squires mopped up with the points to give the students a 6-5 advantage. Entering the second quarter, UCC were eight points to the good.

A pacy first-phase move from a scrum saw Killian Coghlan’s inviting pass put Louis Bruce haring away from his own 10-metre line, and the UCC captain had the speed and evasion skills to run in an excellent try, albeit that Buccs’ defending was poor. Squires converted.

Kelly was soon penalised for not rolling away, setting up Squires for his third three-pointer, Crossing prevented the Pirates from responding, and Squires turned provider for the students’ next try.

The centre’s precise pass took out two defenders and sent number 8 Eanna McCarthy away on a powerful 25-metre run-in, with Buccs full-back Stephen Mannion bounced off in his attempts to bring him down. The extras from Squires made it 23-5.

Skipper Frankie Hopkins injected some pace in the hosts’ attack, and they made a stronger start to the second half. They tightened up in defence and won three scrum penalties in a short space of time.

A quick transfer from Sean O’Connell, off a lineout inside the UCC 22, propelled Cian McCann all the way to the try-line in the 52nd minute. He shrugged off tackles from Billy Kiernan and Ben O’Connor to score, and Michael Hanley made it a seven-pointer.

Hooker Matthew Victory then broke off a maul to also bag his second try of the campaign. Suddenly, UCC’s lead was cut to just six points and a perfectly-weighted 50:22 kick from Mannion kept the Athlone side on the front foot.

College dealt with the lineout threat, though, and won back a big chunk of territory before Squires split the posts again with just over 10 minutes remaining. Hanley hit back with a fine kick from outside UCC’s 10-metre line, leaving it 26-20.

Nonetheless, the game was put beyond Buccs’ reach when Hopkins was sin-binned for a ruck infringement and Squires nailed the penalty kick. There was more cruel luck for the home side, with possession going loose past halfway and Coghlan raiding clear for an opportunist final try.

BUCCANEERS: Stephen Mannion; Conor O’Shaughnessy, Daniel Hawkshaw, Mark Earle, Josh O’Connor; Michael Hanley, Frankie Hopkins (capt); James Kelly, Matthew Victory, Sean O’Connell, Fergus Galvin, Cian McCann, Luke Balsiger, Cathal Walshe, Danny Qualter.

Replacements: Oisin Dolan, Charlie Byrne, Fionn McDonnell, Ryan O’Meara, Orrin Burgess, Ross Murphy Sweeney.

UCC: Louis Bruce (capt); Sean Condon, Killian Coghlan, Daniel Squires, Ben O’Connor; Billy Kiernan, Andrew O’Mahony; Michael Cogan, Luke McAuliffe, Danny McCarthy, Dave O’Halloran, Sam O’Sullivan, Eoghan Sheehan, Jacob Sheahan, Eanna McCarthy.

Replacements: Ross McAuliffe, Stewart Lynch, Pat McBarron, Jack O’Sullivan, Oliver Young, Darragh French.

Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Jack Delaney 2; Cons: Jack Oliver 2; Pens: Jack Oliver 2
Old Belvedere: Tries: Peter O’Beirne, Patrick Dowling; Con: David Wilkinson
HT: Garryowen 10 Old Belvedere 7

Centre Jack Delaney touched down in each half as Garryowen outlasted Old Belvedere to register their first Division 1B victory since being relegated last April.

Defences were on top during a fast-paced opening to this encounter at sunny Dooradoyle. Old Belvedere twice thwarted the hosts’ lineout – the second time by bringing their maul to ground – and Garryowen covered a kick chase launched by speed merchant Ariel Robles.

The Garryowen backs speared through from a smart 14th-minute move off a scrum, but captain Bryan Fitzgerald lost the ball forward as he looked for support. Another strong Fitzgerald carry soon led to Jack Oliver kicking the opening points.

Despite the Munster Academy scrum half missing the target from further out, following a turnover penalty won by Fitzgerald, the Light Blues kept building phases and their backs delivered a smartly-taken try midway through the first half.

Kelvin Langan made the initial incision, and good ball retention just outside the ‘Belvo 22 led to the tricky Delaney breaking outside a couple of forwards and accelerating away from two more defenders to score to the left of the posts. Oliver’s right boot made it 10-0.

However, Belvedere bounced back almost straight away. Jayden Beckett bounced off Fitzgerald’s attempted tackle, broke up to the home side’s 22 and his inside pass released Peter O’Beirne to finish off under the posts.

David Wilkinson’s conversion put three points between the teams, that gap remaining in place until early in the second period. Both kickers missed penalty opportunities before half-time, while Garryowen had lineout issues to iron out.

Barely three minutes after the restart, Belvedere made up for a mistimed lineout when second row Patrick Dowling won the race to his own kick through to make it 12-10.

Front rowers Jacob Barrett and Calum Dowling were involved in the build-up, the latter with a well-timed pass to release the try scorer down the left touchline. Garryowen were inches away from a quick-fire response, but flanker Donnacha Byrne was adjudged to have been held up.

On the 50-minute mark, there was no denying Delaney his second converted try. He surged onto an Oliver pass to barge over from close range, breaking ‘Belvo skipper O’Beirne’s initial tackle. James Conroy had gobbled up some space out wide before that, with the home pack also carrying well.

In a tightly-contested and breathless finale, Oliver clipped over a central penalty to give John Staunton’s men some hard-earned breathing space. ‘Belvo’s best chance saw Jack Keating dart down the right touchline, but he was unable to connect with the supporting O’Beirne.

GARRYOWEN: Colm Quilligan; Nicky Greene, Bryan Fitzgerald (capt), Jack Delaney, James Conroy; Kelvin Langan, Jack Oliver; George Hadden, Dean Fanning, Oisin Kearney, Jeronimo Ureta Saenz Pena, Kevin Seymour, Donnacha Byrne, Des Fitzgerald, Sean Rennison.

Replacements: Niall Fitzgerald, Darragh McCarthy, Johnny Keane, Oisin Cooke, JJ O’Neill, Gordon Wood.

OLD BELVEDERE: Joe White; Jack Keating, Jayden Beckett, Mick O’Kennedy, Ariel Robles; David Wilkinson, Peter O’Beirne (capt); Adam Howard, Calum Dowling, Jacob Barrett, Patrick Dowling, Fionn McWey, James Doyle, Tom Mulcair, Kale Thatcher.

Replacements: Cian Cunningham, Barry Dooley, Diarmuid Rowe, Niklas Moelders, Conall Bird, Gavin Nugent.

NAAS 33 QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 50, Forenaughts
Scorers: Naas: Tries: Jack Sheridan, Charlie Sheridan, Tadhg Brophy, Paul Monahan, Donal Conroy; Cons: Peter Osborne 4
Queen’s University: Tries: Lukas Kenny, Jonny Hunter 2, Harry Long, Alexander Clarke, Lorcan McLoughlin, Ryan Davies, Ben Gibson; Cons: James Humphreys 5
HT: Naas 14 Queen’s University 24

Captain Alexander Clarke marked his 100th senior appearance for Queen’s University with a try as they recorded a landmark 50-33 Division 1B triumph over Naas at Forenaughts.

Full report to follow…

NAAS: Peter Osborne; Jack Sheridan, Donal Conroy, Charlie Sheridan, Sam Cahill; Bryan Croke, Tadhg Brophy; Stephen Lackey, Niall O’Hanlon, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, Patrick O’Flaherty, Cillian Dempsey, Eoin Walsh, Conor McVerry.

Replacements: Conor Doyle, Peter King, Evan Coyle, Muiris Cleary, Matias Giannetti, Derry Lenehan.

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY: Ben McFarlane; Jonny Hunter, Robbie Johnston, Ben Gibson, Lukas Kenny; James Humphreys, James Wright; Scott Wilson, Alexander Clarke (capt), Matthew Miller, Joe Hopes, Jake McCay, Harry Long, Peter Heasley, Lorcan McLoughlin.

Replacements: Henry Walker, Cameron Hillis, Paddy McAlpine, Kian Mulholland, Ryan Davies, Callum Florence.

Scorers: Old Wesley: Tries: Reuben Pim, Will Fay, Nathan Randles; Cons: Ian Cassidy 2; Pen: Ian Cassidy
St. Mary’s College: Tries: Leandro Ramirez 2, Ronan Watters, Conor Dean; Cons: Mick O’Gara 3; Pens: Mick O’Gara 4
HT: Old Wesley 12 St. Mary’s College 19

St. Mary’s College were in free-scoring form in this top of the table clash, with their 16-point win over Old Wesley owing much to Mick O’Gara’s accurate goal-kicking and the finishing skills of new winger Leandro Ramirez.

Sean Cronin’s side took control of the scoreboard across the opening quarter at Energia Park. O’Gara’s reliable right boot fired over three penalties from four attempts. With the wind at his back, he cleared the crossbar from just inside his own half to make it 9-0.

A neat one-two between Conor Dean and Mark Fogarty led a pacy Mary’s break up into the hosts’ 22, and despite impressive captain Ronan Watters being tackled short, he popped the ball up for Ramirez to scramble over just the right of the posts. O’Gara converted.

However, some of that good work was undone when Mary’s prop Mick McCormack was sin-binned for a tip tackle. Old Wesley quickly took advantage, skipper Reuben Pim crashing over a few phases after a ground-gaining lineout maul.

Ian Cassidy’s conversion was cancelled out by O’Gara’s fourth successful penalty, but a terrific 40-metre solo score from Wesley number 8 Will Fay, who profited from a 33rd-minute scrum won against the head, saw him close the gap to 19-12.

Having absorbed some late pressure before the interval, Wesley struck first in the second half through a fine long-range kick from Cassidy, which rewarded Josh Pim’s good timing at the breakdown.

Morgan Lennon’s men continued to force the issue and took a 22-19 lead in the 54th minute. Gary Bradley went quickly from a penalty, deep inside the opposition 22, and linked with Alex Molloy whose long skip pass put Nathan Randles over in the right corner.

Cassidy’s well-struck conversion proved to be the hosts’ final score, though, as Mary’s wrestled back control. Handling errors, and a gritty Wesley defence, thwarted them before Watters picked from a close-in scrum and surged over in the 63rd minute.

O’Gara added the extras for a 26-22 scoreline, and after Cassidy had pushed a penalty wide, Cronin’s charges settled the issue with a late flourish. Aided by Ethan Baxter’s decoy run, out-half Conor Dean sliced through for a converted score from the edge of the Wesley 22.

There was still time for former Navan player Ramirez to stylishly bag the bonus point. The backs were set in motion off a maul, and Conor Hayes released the winger to scamper down the right touchline and acrobatically ground the ball one-handed, despite two covering defenders.

OLD WESLEY: Alex Molloy; Nathan Randles, Fergus Jemphrey, Eoin Deegan, Tommy O’Callaghan; Ian Cassidy, Gary Bradley; Cronan Gleeson, Stephen Smith, Rob O’Donovan, David Motyer, Billy Corrigan, Reuben Pim (capt), Josh Pim, Will Fay.

Replacements: Howard Noonan, Harry Noonan, Kieran O’Shea, Josh O’Hare, Tom Larke, Keith Kavanagh.

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Conor Hayes; Leandro Ramirez, Mark Fogarty, Mick O’Gara, Daniel Sancery; Conor Dean, Adam McEvoy; Jack Reidy Walsh, Jamie Harding, Mick McCormack, Daniel Leane, Liam Corcoran, Ben Taylor, Ethan Baxter, Ronan Watters (capt).

Replacements: Tom O’Reilly, Cameron Stewart, Leroy Jack, Conor Pierce, Myles Carey, Max Svejdar.