Tiarnan Neville topped off Shane Mallon’s last-minute try with the decisive conversion as Galwegians denied Bangor their first win of the campaign. Meanwhile, leaders Clogher Valley came away from Bruff with maximum points again.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE MEN’S DIVISION 2C – ROUND 5:
Saturday, November 11 –
Bangor 26 Galwegians 28, Upritchard Park
Bruff 20 Clogher Valley 36, Kilballyowen Park
Clonmel 37 Omagh Academicals 21, Ardgaoithe
Enniscorthy 52 Tullamore 19, Alcast Park
Midleton 32 Ballina 13, Towns Park
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For the second week running, Galwegians were involved in one of the league’s most dramatic finishes. Bruff thwarted them at home, but this time Brendan Guilfoyle’s Blues saved the best for last to pip Bangor to the finish line.
Bangor did pick up a losing bonus point in their 28-26 defeat at Upritchard Park, but it was a case of what might have been as they had led for most of the game with out-half Gareth Millar contributing an impressive 16 points from the tee.
Millar’s opening penalty had Bangor leading 10-7 midway through the first half. Number 8 Mike Weir had powered through a couple of tackles to touch down in the fifth minute, following up on a smart break by Connor Scollan.
Young centre Cian Brady responded with his first league try for Galwegians, capitalising on some missed tackles, and the tit-for-tat exchanges continued. Millar tucked away his penalty before dummying through and passing for Scollan to make it 17-7.
‘Wegians scrum half Andrew Sherlock snapped up an opportunist try from his own quick tap, and despite two more Millar penalties to punish further indiscipline from the visitors, Bangor were only 23-21 to the good at the break.
Guilfoyle’s men squeezed in a third converted try approaching half-time, with second row Oisin Halpin finishing off some patient build-up play from the forwards. Bangor turned down a couple of kickable penalties in the third quarter, backing their reliable scrum instead.
‘Wegians stood firm, though, and managed to hold their hosts at bay until tighthead Garyn Daniel was sin-binned for repeated team penalties. A well-struck Millar penalty from 40 metres out extended the lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Five points was ultimately not enough, though, as ‘Wegians had more in the tank. It took upwards of 20 phases to wear down the Bangor defence for Mallon to score from close range, and out-half Neville added the all-important conversion from in front of the posts.
Dave Irwin’s Bangor side have the first of two upcoming Ulster derbies next weekend, visiting table toppers Clogher Valley who kept up their winning start to the campaign with a 36-20 defeat of Bruff at Kilballyowen Park.
John O’Dea and Shane Duggan both touched down during the final quarter for Bruff, but second half tries from Taine Haire (2), David Stinson and Reece Smyton made Clogher Valley’s five-hour trip to east Limerick well worth it.
It was a closely-fought encounter across the opening 40 minutes. Lively winger Haire, Clogher’s player-of-the-match, scored the only try just five minutes in when he made it over in the corner for captain Paul Armstrong to convert.
Bruff scrum half Sean Kilbridge sandwiched an Armstrong penalty with two of his own, leaving the home side just 10-6 behind at the turnaround. Bruff had most of the possession on the resumption, but struggled to penetrate a well-organised Valley defence.
Instead, against the run of play, Haire slipped through the smallest of gaps to make it 17-6 on the hour mark, and Armstrong’s nicely-delayed pass set up second row Stinson to show a fine turn of pace as he ran in try number three.
Quick ball from a lineout was transferred across to Haire who darted over for the bonus point score. Bruff replacement O’Dea used a tap penalty to pull back seven points, but then Reece Smyton, invited through a gap by a clever pass from his younger brother Callum, romped in under the posts.
Despite some late consolation for Bruff when winger Duggan closed out the scoring, they had been unable to keep pace with a Haire-inspired Clogher Valley who showed exactly why they are emerging as early candidates for promotion.
Clonmel celebrated their first home victory of the league run after overcoming Omagh Academicals 37-21 at Ardgaoithe. A quartet of first half tries from Ben Everard, Conor Hogan (2) and Brian O’Dea did most of the damage for the Tipperary outfit.
The young Accies side were made to pay for their defensive lapses, but collapsed mauls in either half earned them penalty tries and they also notched a third seven-pointer from a dominant scrum late on.
Along with the result, Clonmel will draw encouragement from the manner of the performance. There were some fine tries, particularly during a fast-paced first half when prop Everard marked his first start by breaking through after just two minutes.
Flanker O’Dea’s terrific near-length-of-the-field kick chase was rewarded with a 35th-minute converted score. Although the try-scoring stopped after that for Clonmel, influential out-half Josef O’Connor landed a trio of second half penalties to take his tally to 17 points.
Elsewhere, Midleton won for the first time since last month’s opening round when hosting Ballina at Towns Park. Closing tries from replacement Fionn O’Connell and Evan Donovan drove the Red Devils to a 32-13 bonus point success and moved them back into the top half of the table.
It was a tough result for Ballina to take given they had led for long periods at Towns Park and turned in one of their best performances of the season so far. Cody Chilcott converted Darragh Whyte’s try and added two penalties for a 13-6 interval lead.
Midleton, whose other second half tries came from Aaron Leahy and Ryan Lehane, got back on level terms, but with 10 minutes remaining it was still all to play for. Their big pack eventually wore down the visitors’ defence, as Ballina cruelly missed out on a losing bonus point.
Kevin O’Connor and Connor Fahy ran in two tries each for Enniscorthy who accounted for Leinster rivals Tullamore on a 52-19 scoreline. ‘Scorthy’s eight-try display at Alcast Park has seen them climb above Bruff into third place.
The Offaly side endured a nightmare second quarter, though, as ‘Scorthy tagged on four more tries. Fahy turned provider for O’Connor to go over in the corner, pocketing the bonus point with just 24 minutes on the clock.
Fahy completed his own brace and returning number 8 Timmy Morrissey scored on his first start of the season, with Tullamore losing two of their pack to the sin bin for tackle offences. A penalty try from scrum pressure left it 45-7 at the break.
Back to their full complement, Tullamore managed to halt an Enniscorthy maul but the hosts’ captain MJ Doyle breached the whitewash soon after. The remainder of the game was more positive for the visitors, who bagged the final two tries, including one from lock Philip Jordan.