TRAILING leaders Clonmel by just two points, Newcastle West are poised to finish the year top of MJL1 and they could take a giant step towards that aim on Sunday when they host Abbeyfeale in a mouth-watering derby game.
Both sides are in good form at the moment with ‘Feale beating bogey side Cobh Pirates last week-end and Newcastle snatching a last minute victory away to St Senan’s in a nail-biting battle.
Coached by former Thomond, Young Munster and Munster star Ger Earls, the ‘West’ have shown consistency and they will be hoping that Galbally can do them a favour when they entertain unbeaten Clonmel who are just two points ahead of Newcastle.
Tenth in the table, Richmond’s run of disappointing results continued last week-end when they conceded two late tries to Clonakilty and lost 23-25.
With five suspensions to deal with, the city side have struggled and they will have to circle the wagons for the trip to Muskerry who are two rungs lower than them.
In MJL2, St Mary’s accepted a request by Charleville to play their game this Friday night instead of Sunday and this one kicks-off at Grove Island at 7.30.
The ‘Saints’ are steadily moving up the table and are currently fourth, just one point adrift of Thurles and Youghal in second a third respectively. Their bonus point win in Ennis last week-end indicates St Mary’s commitment and they could yet make a bold bid in the run-in to this title race.
Also in MJL2 Presentation’s one point victory over Tralee will boost their confidence and they will be hoping to get something out of their visit to Mallow.
Last week-end there were Division One wins for Abbeyfeale and Newcastle West while in division two both St Mary’s and Presentation also recorded victories.
Galbally went down to Bandon at the County Cork venue while Richmond threw away an eight point lead to go down to Clonakilty in the dying minutes in Richmond Park. Here are the details:
Abbeyfeale 24 Cobh Pirates 5
THIS was an important result for Abbeyfeale, in MJL 1 gaining a winning bonus point and lifting the disappointment of losing to the same opposition at the end of last season, a result that ruined their 100% run in division two.
This time ‘Feale were keen to rectify that result and they looked eager right from the kick-off.
The County Limerick side played some superb rugby in this game and the result was well deserved. Eoin McEnery barged his way over the Pirates’ line following a close-in scrum to set the trend of the 80 minutes and Derry O’Connor got over the line for their second try.
Following massive pressure by the home pack O’Connor kicked the loose ball downfield from just outside his own 22 and won the chase to touch down at the other end, giving his side a 10-0 interval lead.
20 minutes into the second half Cobh got their only score of the game when Shane Cullimore got over for a try but Abbeyfeale were in mean mood in this game and sealed the win and the five league points with further tries from Brian Collins and Colm O’Sullivan, both converted by Tom Hassett.
Abbeyfeale were superb in defence throughout and they used their ball carriers to good effect to bring play into attacking positions.
“A tremendous performance by the lads which eases some worries about being dragged into a relegation dogfight,” was the reaction of Abbefeale’s Conor Prendiville.
“This result will give us a massive boost for our meeting next week-end against Newcastle West in the local derby.”
Richmond 23 Clonakilty 25
Late in this cracker of a league game in Richmond Park, the home side appeared to be home and hosed when they led 23-15 going into the final minutes.
Clonakilty thought otherwise, staging a dramatic come-back that produced two unconverted tries to snatch victory.
It has been a bad season for Richmond so far and this defeat just about sums up their run of bad luck. Clonakilty took an early lead with an unconverted try but Richmond responded with a push-over try, touched down by Stephen Gallagher to level it at 5-5.
The Cork side edged 5-8 in front with a penalty and a converted try before the break left them leading 5-15 at half time. Richmond started the second half in determined mood and a try by Ross O’Neill, converted by Brian Bennett reduced the deficit to 12-15.
A Bennett penalty levelled the tie at 15-15 and with 13 minutes remaining, another Brian Bennett penalty and conversion of Ross O’Neill’s second try of the game pushed the Canal Bank side into a 23-15 lead.
Once Clonakilty had reduced the lead to three points the home side appeared to lose their cohesion and another try near the finish gave the Cork side victory.
With five players under suspension, Richmond have continued to struggle but they hope to return to better form when these players come back over the coming weeks.
On the scoresheet for Clonakilty were Olan Deane and Mark Purcell a try each and a brace from Ger McCarthy. Eoin Deasy kicked a penalty and a conversion.
St Senan’s 29
Newcastle West 32
THE ‘West’ march on but they had to pull out all the stops in this thriller in Jim Slattery Park.
Sean Murphy got a try for Newcastle West after just three minutes which was converted by Sean Herlihy who also landed a penalty.
A second try, this time from Tommy Kelliher, again converted by Sean Herlihy, saw the visitors race into a 17-5 lead (Aidan McMahon scoring a try for the Shannon Town side) but St Senan’s suddenly sparked, scoring tries from Brian Collins and Conor Lynch and a penalty and two conversions by Dale O’Loughlin to lead at the break 22-17.
On 55 minutes St Senan’s increased their lead to 29-17 thanks to a Tom Cronin try and conversion by Dale O’Loughlin and at that stage it looked as if Newcastle West’s good run may be coming to an end.
Showing terrific spirit, the Limerick side fought back, Sean Murphy getting over his second try of the game, converted by Sean Herlihy to make it 29-24, Niall Kennedy added another try to level the game at 29-29 and in a welter of excitement, the West stole it thanks to a Tommy Kelliher drop goal.
Up next for Newcastle West is a meeting with Abbeyfeale thist week-end and this is certainly a match to look forward to.
Bandon 13, Galbally 9
It was a case of sixth in the table against seventh in this fixture and it was the County Cork side that got the four points, Galbally having to settle for a losing bonus point.
The win puts Bandon on 18 points with Galbally on 15 points. The Limerick side went ahead with a Jack O’Mullane penalty but Bandon levelled it at 3-3 with a similar score from Sean Og Murphy. Two O’Mullane penalties saw Galbally take the lead but a try by Gareth Burton and a conversion and penalty by Sean Og Murphy sealed the win for the home side.
Ennis 6, St Mary’s 22
St Mary’s got their second bonus point of their MJL2 campaign with this well-deserved win over Ennis. They now move up a notch to fourth place in the table and the next few weeks be very interesting.
The ‘Saints’ four tries were scored by Stuart Lipper, Aaron Noonan, Darragh Fitzgerald and Sean Lyons whose touchdown when he came on as a replacement proved to crucial.
Lyons landed the conversion of his try but the St Mary’s backroom staff will be looking at their kicking ratio from this game, missing six attempts at the posts. Ennis had their scores from two Bryan Murphy penalties but they never really threatened the ‘Saints’ in this fixture.
Presentation 18 Tralee 17
Played in Rathuard, Pres got a welcome four points. It was a close and hard-fought game and it was the strength of the home pack, particularly at the scrum, that turned the game in their favour.
Presentation had tries from James Ryan and Alan Daly with Craig Airey kicking a penalty and Shane O’Brien adding a penalty and a conversion.
Tralee’s scores came from a try by Jack Quilter and Sean Dowling and Darragh O’Neill added a conversion and two penalties.