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Action-Packed AIB Club International Ends In A Draw

Action-Packed AIB Club International Ends In A Draw

Out-half Barry Keeshan kicked a late penalty as the Ireland Club team drew Friday’s AIB Club International clash with England Counties at Donnybrook. The Irish built up an early 10-0 lead before the visitors launched a second half fightback.

2009 AIB CLUB INTERNATIONAL: Friday, February 27

IRELAND CLUB XV 13 ENGLAND COUNTIES 13, Donnybrook



Scorers: Ireland: Try: Barry O’Mahony; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 2
England: Try: James Doherty; Con: Mark Bedworth; Pens: Mark Bedworth 2




On the balance of play, a share of the spoils was a fair result as both Ireland and England enjoyed their spells of dominance but neither was able to put the opposition to the sword.




Brian Walsh’s Irish side shot out of the traps and looked very capable in the opening quarter-of-an-hour. During that time, they foraged into a 10-0 lead with flanker Barry O’Mahony powering over for a try and his Dolphin club-mate Barry Keeshan kicking a conversion and a penalty.




Home full-back Ed Torrie impressed with his clearance kicks and attacking forays and while England boasted the bulkier pack, centre Mark Bedworth failed to convert a third-minute penalty after the Irish forwards were pinged for not rolling away.




Keeshan kicked Ireland into position and Torrie, centre Darragh Fitzpatrick and winger Cronan Healy looked dangerous with ball in hand.




A chip to the far right corner by Philip Brophy got Ireland within range of the try-line and soon the England Counties’ defence around the fringes was confidently exposed by the hosts.




Torrie broke down the left and he released Derek Corcoran who was stopped just short of the line. The Irish quickly recycled the ball and a lovely, one-handed pass out of the tackle from prop Kevin Moran sent O’Mahony bounding over the line past James Doherty.




Keeshan added the left-sided conversion kick for 7-0 and O’Mahony increased his influence by launching a kick chase after a dropped English pass.




It was end-to-end stuff as England Counties countered as much as they could, living up to their pre-match promise that they would play Barbarians-style rugby.




An offside in midfield from Thomas Bason gave Keeshan his second shot at the posts and the Corkman delivered to move Ireland into double figures.




England were struggling to cope with the pace of the Irish backs and the home forwards were also packing a punch – as evidenced by Dungannon hooker Brett McNamee’s big hit on Doherty.




The visitors closed the gap to 10-3 on 26 minutes when O’Mahony was penalised for breaking his bind from the scrum and Bedworth converted the resulting kick.




There were tired legs in the final ten minutes of the opening half and Healy almost made it over in the right corner. But England survived and with Gavin Beasley and Doherty steadying the ship behind an industrious pack, the score remained the same for half-time.




Ireland did suffer a blow before the break when winger Corcoran was yellow carded for going off his feet at a ruck, following a kick ahead by McNamee.




The 15 men of England Counties came out as a renewed force for the second half, pinning the Irish back into their 22 and building through the phases.


The defensive work took its toll as despite some heroic work from Moran and Irish captain Hugh Hogan, England worked Doherty over for a try.


The Counties side went through phase after phase, keeping it tight with the forwards before Doherty backed himself to go off the back of a ruck and he slithered out of three tackles before touching down.


Bedworth’s successful conversion squared up the game at 10-10 and the large crowd present were being treated to an entertaining tie.


Ireland coach Walsh looked to his bench for the final quarter, bringing on the likes of Alex Dunlop, Sam Cronin and Ron Boucher.


Cronin was an energetic presence at scrum half and he helped Ireland get back on the attack and up to the visitors’ 22.


A 69th-minute penalty from Bedworth edged England Counties ahead for the first time and Ireland’s club stars were in danger of losing an AIB Club International on home turf for the first time.


But Walsh’s men wrestled back control of possession and although they missed out on a couple of overlap chances and both Keeshan and Healy miscued drop goal attempts, a Keeshan penalty – three minutes from the finish – brought the sides level for a final time.

IRELAND CLUB XV: Ed Torrie (UL Bohemians); Cronan Healy (Cork Constitution), Darragh Fitzpatrick (Blackrock College), Philip Brophy (St. Mary’s College), Derek Corcoran (Young Munster); Barry Keeshan (Dolphin), Ruairi Cushion (Old Belvedere); Martin Gately (Highfield), Brett McNamee (Dungannon), Kevin Moran (Buccaneers), Alan Maher (Lansdowne), Marc Warburton (Old Wesley), Kevin Croke (UCD), Barry O’Mahony (Dolphin), Hugh Hogan (St. Mary’s College) (capt).

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Replacements: Robert Quinn (Lansdowne), Colum Murphy (Lansdowne), Alex Dunlop (Terenure College), Ron Boucher (Lansdowne), Sam Cronin (UCC), Niall O’Brien (Clontarf), Tadhg Bennett (Shannon).


ENGLAND COUNTIES: Robert Cook (Nuneaton & Warwickshire); Mark Billings (Southend & Essex), Adam Billig (Stourbridge & North Midlands), Mark Bedworth (Wharfedale & Yorkshire), Sam Smith (Blackheath & Middlesex); Gavin Beasley (Tynedale & Northumberland), James Doherty (Wharfedale & Yorkshire); Darren Jaques (Redruth & Cornwall), Liam Wordley (Blackheath & Staffordshire) (capt), Rupert Harden (Tynedale & Northumberland), Luke Collins (Redruth & Cornwall), Thomas Bason (Blackheath & Kent), Joshua Lord (Launceston & Cornwall), James Kellard (Barking & Essex), Robert Baldwin (Wharfedale & Yorkshire).

Replacements: Ben Gerry (Stourbridge & North Midlands), Simon Legg (Blackheath & Kent), James Rule (Hull Ionians & Yorkshire), Jason Smithson (Blaydon & Northumberland), Paul Knight (Cinderford & Gloucestershire), Christopher Johnson (Huddersfield & Yorkshire), Jack Harrison (Tynedale & Northumberland).


Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)