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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

Scrum half Nicky Irwin scored a try and set up the second one during Nenagh Ormond's hard-fought win away to MU Barnhall ©Nenagh Ormond RFC

Nenagh Ormond were the only team to buck the trend for home wins in Division 2A at the weekend, as Conor McMahon’s dramatic late try saw them overcome MU Barnhall by a single point at Parsonstown.


Saturday, October 14 –

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UL Bohemians 27 Banbridge 10, Annacotty
Cashel 40 Malone 5, Spafield
Greystones 22 Ballymena 19, Dr Hickey Park
MU Barnhall 16 Nenagh Ormond 17, Parsonstown
Navan 26 Old Crescent 19, Balreask Old

It was an encouraging week for the division’s Tipperary clubs as Cashel jumped up to fourth place after a 40-5 bonus point dismissal of Malone at Spafield. They laid the foundations with a three-try first half salvo, a very good return considering the heavy pre-match rain.

Malone were left to rue their missed tackles as Cashel out-half Jack Evenden weaved through from 40 metres out for a superb solo try. Full-back Ben Twomey got on the end of a pacy move in the 15th minute, adding the conversion himself.

The Cregagh Red Sox gained more of a foothold as the first half progressed, but leaked a five-metre lineout when a well-weighted Evenden kick had to be dealt with. The resulting maul saw lock Brenden Crosse get the ball down for another seven-pointer.

The impressive Twomey ended the game with 15 points, tagging conversions onto second half tries from Kevin O’Connor and Brendan Ryan, both off the maul platform again, and winger Josh Pickering.

Greystones are next up for Cashel, with the Wicklow men putting together back-to-back wins so far. ‘Stones staged a rousing late fightback to win 22-19 and dash Ballymena’s hopes of victory at Dr Hickey Park.

All three of the division’s Ulster clubs lost on the road on Saturday, with Ballymena, who led 19-3 at one stage, the most competitive of the lot. Their forwards dictated play early on, but were held up or turned over, or Greystones were able to relieve the pressure.

Given their dominance of the opening half an hour’s play, the Braidmen would have been disappointed to go behind to a long-range Killian Marmion penalty. They snatched the lead soon after, captain Adam Lamont peeling off a maul to make it 7-3.

A second lineout drive paid dividends early in the second half, with James Howe the scorer this time, and out-half Pierce Crowe completed a well-crafted backs move in the corner on the hour mark, adding the extras too for a 16-point advantage.

Greystones had more in the tank, and crucially managed to lift the tempo and tire the Ballymena defence. Not long after Crowe’s effort, they invited Ferdia Kenny in off his wing and he showed his eye for the try-line with a crisp finish.

The visitors were then caught napping in the 68th minute. ‘Stones’ Italian centre Simone Ragusi reacted quickest to tap a penalty and break through the defence for a second converted try in quick succession. It was now just a two-point game.

Controlling possession through their half-backs and player-of-the-match Ragusi, Danny Kenny’s charges continued to run the ball and take Ballymena from wing to wing. Five minutes from the end, they created an overlap for flying winger Kenny to go over in the corner.

Kenny’s late match winner means he has scored four tries already after the opening two rounds. The division’s leading scorers so far are table toppers Nenagh Ormond who squeezed past MU Barnhall on a 17-16 scoreline in Leixlip.

Having lost away to Old Crescent last week, Barnhall were targeting a strong start to their first home match. They got it when number 8 Luke Callinan, fed by Rob Holt on the blindside of a attack, showed good footwork and strength to score in the left corner.

Adam Chester sent over a peach of a conversion from the touchline, but Nenagh were only two points in arrears after some hard carrying from their forwards and Joe Coffey’s pass which sent John Healy spinning out of a tackle and crashing over the line in the ninth minute.

Barnhall full-back Conor Duggan produced a terrific try-saving tackle on Ben Pope, having made up the metres on the Nenagh out-half who had looked certain to run in an intercept score from his own 22.

Nenagh lock Kevin O’Flaherty then saw yellow for a high tackle on the advancing Conor Lacey. Chester missed the resulting penalty, but Duggan was up to the task again when he made a vital tackle to deny Patrick Scully a breakaway try for the Tipperary men.

Barnhall’s Dan Murphy got in at the breakdown to win a late penalty, which Chester converted for a 10-5 lead at the break. However, Nenagh roared back with a try after barely two minutes of the second half.

They went down the touchline with a penalty, and quick ball off the back of the lineout saw scrum half Nicky Irwin take off, slicing open the Blue Bulls’ midfield from outside their 22 and arcing his run to evade Duggan and score to the left of the posts.

Irwin’s excellent try went unconverted by Pope, leaving the sides level at 10-all. Despite Evan Murphy pinching a lineout, Barnhall were able to repel what the visitors could throw at them until a close-in 56th-minute penalty saw Chester boot the hosts back in front.

Buoyed by another Murphy steal and a penalty-winning scrum, Nenagh kept Barnhall at arm’s length but when Adrian Flavin’s youngsters bounced back into the visitors’ 22, they gained a scrum penalty which Chester sent over to make it 16-10.

Following a missed penalty from Pope, Nenagh stayed composed and Irwin was their source of inspiration again. He took a quick tap on halfway and surged up to the 22 where Barnhall appeared to have enough cover.

Despite Irwin’s attempted offload going loose, supporting winger McMahon was alive to it, kicking the ball through and gathering it on the bounce to go in under the posts. He added the conversion himself, putting Nenagh in front for the only time.

Left reeling by that seven-point concession, luck was not on Barnhall’s side as they lost possession on halfway due to an accidental offside. Nenagh tightened their grip, seeing out the remaining three minutes with all the possession before a final penalty sealed the result.

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