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Strong Start Sees Dolphin Take The Spoils

Strong Start Sees Dolphin Take The Spoils

Dolphin ended their two-match losing streak by winning 13-0 at Ballynahinch. A penalty try was added to by eight points from the boot of league veteran Barry Keeshan.

Having started the New Year with an important away win over UCD, there were high hopes at Ballymacarn Park that Ballynahinch had turned the corner.

The away fixture against Dolphin in Cork was a game that 'Hinch should have won, so it was vital they made home advantage count this time out.

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Ballymacarn Park was bitterly cold, wet and muddy and from the outset the Cork side took control of the game.

Playing towards the clubhouse with a slight advantage of the blustery conditions, they put 'Hinch under early pressure.

A series of five-metre scrums ensued with the heavier Cork pack looking dangerous and with just five minutes gone, they forced the home side to concede a penalty try after the 'Hinch front row stood up under pressure. Barry Keeshan converted to give Dolphin a seven-point lead.

The conditions did not help the quality of play and probably suited Dolphin as they continued to keep 'Hinch under pressure in their half of pitch. A penalty from out-half Keeshan in the 38th minute made it 10-0 for half-time.

Dolphin increased their lead to 13 points with another Keeshan penalty goal in the 43rd minute after Ballynahinch had infringed at a ruck in front of their posts.

Things got a lot worse for the home side in the 52nd minute when winger Aaron Cairns was yellow carded for coming into a ruck from the side.

Despite having the better of the conditions, the County Down outfit failed created any decent threats during the second half. On three occasions they kicked penalties into the corner but did not regain possession from touch.

Keeshan, number 8 Ryan Murphy, flanker Miah Cronin and hooker Niall Scannell all delivered impressive defencive displays for Dolphin and worked tirelessly throughout the game.

Speaking afterwards, Ballynahinch assistant coach Charlie McAleese said: “We are very disappointed with the result today, nothing really happened for us in the game to be honest and the best team won.

“Dolphin handled the conditions better than us and took away any threat we might have had. Their lineout was very dominant – I don't think they lost one all day.

“Their maul at the lineout controlled possession for them and got them onto the front foot, and their physicality told in the end and they were deserving winners.”

He added: “I suppose we will see this as a knock back, we have lost a home game and that is always damaging. Next week is very important to us away to Garryowen and we have got to regroup for that one.

“We need to keep up our challenge in this league, it is a considerable task for us considering the injury problems that we have had.

“Today was disappointing for us because we lacked a bit of fire. We were slower to the ball, we couldn't carry the ball to them on the ground, they were beating us at the ruck, and when we were going in a bit higher they were able to hold us up and choke us.

“So, their physicality did tell in the end and their urgency showed how much it means to a Munster team to stay in this league. We have got to get that hunger back so that we make sure we stay in this league as the only Ulster team.”

Referee: Olly Hodges (IRFU)