Garryowen head coach Conan Doyle
GARRYOWEN retained their Ulster Bank League Division 1A status for next season after scoring a hard-earned 18-13 play-off win over local rivals UL-Bohemian at Dooradoyle on Saturday.
Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Old Crescent who missed out on promotion to Division 2A of the AIL for next season after suffering a 21-10 play-off defeat to Armagh at the Palace Grounds.
Garryowen had to survive a strong final quarter rally from UL-Bohs before securing the place in the top flight for next term.
Despite playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze in the opening half, the ‘Light Blues’ led their cross town rivals 8-3 at the end of a highly competitive opening period which was spoiled somewhat by the windy conditions.
The sides were level 3-3 after half an hour with Garryowen scrum-half Neil Cronin and UL-Bohs centre Rick McKenna trading penalties.
However, the decisive soon of the half arrived in the 32nd minute when Garryowen winger Steven McMahon scored a smashing individual try. Cronin’s conversion attempt came crashing back off the upright.
Cronin and McKenna traded further penalties in the 42nd and 49th minutes as the home side enjoyed a useful 11-3 lead.
Garryowen, who finished 9th in Division 1A, looked to have taken a decisive grip on the game in the 52nd minute, when following a break by centre Sam Arnold, out-half David Johnston dotted down.
Cronin’s conversion made it 18-6 to the home side.
However, a smashing try from UL-Bohemian winger Colin Ryan in the 76th minute, converted by McKenna, ensured a nervy finish.
Garryowen withstood the best UL-Bohs could throw at them to seal their top flight status.
Meanwhile, Old Crescent were facing an uphill battle in their bid to secure AIL Division 2A rugby for next season when trailing Armagh 3-11 at half-time in their play-off game at the Palace Grounds.
Crescent’s first half points came courtesy a Shane O’Brien penalty goal on 37 minutes.
However, a 55th minute try from Crescent’s Brendan Guilfoyle, converted by O’Brien, reduced the Ulster side’s advantage to 14-10.
However, crucially, Armagh replied with their second try of the game two minutes later to put the issue beyond their Limerick visitors.