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Double Delight For Division 1B Champions UL Bohs

Double Delight For Division 1B Champions UL Bohs

UL Bohemians were celebrating on the double this weekend after winning the Division 1B title and securing promotion to the Ulster Bank League’s top flight.

Click here to view UL Bohs' video footage of the match.

UL Bohemians enjoyed a superb 34-13 final day victory over long-time Division 1B table toppers Belfast Harlequins at Annacotty.

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That result, allied to UCD's defeat of Dungannon, confirmed Colm Tucker's young talented side as champions and they are Division 1A-bound for next season.

It was an even more impressive performance given that Ireland Under-20 starlet JJ Hanrahan was missing from the team due to an injury picked up in training, and powerful prop Dave Kilcoyne was Munster-tied.

A last-minute try from Sean Rennison, converted by man-of-the-match Ben Martin, gave UL their bonus point.

The home side got off to a whirlwind start with two converted tries inside six minutes. Rory Whyte grabbed the first after only three minutes which Martin converted.

Number 8 Rennison had gobbled up a loose ruck ball and burst away on a 30-metre run. He was hauled down just short of the Harlequins' try-line, but quick passing from Cathal Sheridan, Ed Torrie and Martin McPhail released winger Whyte who got over in the right corner.

Australian play-maker Martin also added the extras to a Darren Moroney effort just three minutes later.

Whyte brushed off two tacklers on a 20-metre surge along the touchline, he was eventually brought down but Bohs used quick ruck ball to work it along the line to Moroney whose quick feet outfoxed the cover and his angled run brought his to the try-line.

'Quins, who were in pole position ahead of the final round of games, got back into contention when Ulster prospect Michael Allen touched down in the corner after a defensive lapse from the hosts.

Adam Larkin's charges also performed strongly in the scrum and with the Bohs set piece under pressure they leaked a penalty try, with both of the 'Quins tries converted by Stuart Olding.

However, the influential Martin raced in for a third try for Bohs which he also converted to make it 21-14 at the interval. The out-half spun out of one tackle and barged his way through another as UL finished the first half in determined fashion.

Two penalties by Martin, the first after only three minutes, edged the home side 27-14 clear but they were not having it all their own way.

Harlequins had dominated the third quarter but failed to convert their pressure into points. Martin came up trumps with a 45-metre penalty from near the touchline which boosted his team-mates.

UL's defence was superb particularly while they had loosehead prop Kevin Flanagan in the sin-bin. 'Quins battered away at the red shirts, only for Tucker's side to weather the storm and when Flanagan returned the gap was out to 13 points.

With word coming through that Bohs needed one more try to seal the title and promotion, the hosts showed admirable composure to retain possession and patiently set up the scoring chance.

A clever kick from Martin forced 'Quins into a hurried clearance and after Conor Kindregan secured the lineout ball, drives from Eddie Rossiter, Munster's Sean Henry and Gary Walsh brought Bohs ever closer.

Two minutes from the end came the crowning glory when Dale Harris, who replaced the injured Sheridan at scrum half, flicked a pass back from a close-in ruck for the strongly-built Rennison to crash over for that all-important fourth try.

Martin added the extras to complete the scoring and there were memorable scenes of jubilation for the players, coaches, club officials and supporters.

It was a smashing finish to Tucker's first season at the helm, with fellow coach Gary Flanagan and the club's director of rugby Barry Murphy also deserving plenty of plaudits.

Bohs have put in some sparkling performances during the concluding rounds of the league and to finish top of the pile and pip second-placed 'Quins by a point, having never led the standings, is a remarkable achievement.

Speaking afterwards, Tucker said: “We blooded a lot of young fellas this season and it worked. We've won eight of the last nine games and taken bonus points out of four of the last five.

“There was a lot at stake today so it was a nervous game for both sides. Obviously the tries we got in the first half when playing into the wind were massively important. It was a great way to finish off the year and a great day for the club.”

Commiserations to Belfast Harlequins who turned in some excellent displays throughout the campaign and just fell short in the end.

The Ulstermen still have a shot at promotion and must lift themselves for a big push against Old Belvedere in a crucial play-off clash on Saturday, May 5.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)