Boyne's survival bid going right to the wire
Boyne 17 Rainey Old Boys 18
Boyne's AIL status will go right to the wire on Saturday week as they fight it out with Kanturk for a play-off against either Omagh or Clonmel from the Round Robin play-off series.
Malahide are now assured of AIL automatic promotion next season and will swap places with either Boyne or Kanturk, who face Bruff and Middleton respectively in the last round, with Boyne currently three points ahead of the Corkmen.
The visitors to Shamrock Lodge on Saturday last set the pace at the top of the league table for the first round of games before slipping back to third behind Sligo and Navan in the second series.
Boyne's first round joust with Rainey saw them suffer a heavy defeat but this time around there was a huge improvement in Boyne's performance with the northern side very fortunate to go home with a win on the narrowest of margins.
Boyne have certainly refused to capitulate in the closing stages of this league and their fate will be decided in the last game against Bruff away next Saturday. They must win to ensure a play off to retain AIL status. Considering any other option is just not on the cards for the Drogheda side.
The weather conditions for this game were ideal, for the spectators, but absorbing and energy sapping for the protagonists. Once again the Boyne backs were eager to move the ball at every opportunity and showed good pace and handling skills when the chances to attack were presented to them. By contrast the visitors chose to keep the game tight and relied on their heavier forwards to maintain this game plan.
Boyne suffered yet another set back prior to the game when their experienced prop, John Kinsella, was ruled out of contention suffering with a virus the week before the game. Replacement, Patrick Shuttleworth filled the void and done a fine job along with Jerry Orianwa who replaced him later in the game.
Boyne had to defend for long spells during the first half and they managed to contain the Rainey offensive untill the visitors took a 3pt lead when they were awarded a penalty on the 6th minute. This was a tough encounter and Boyne were containing the more physical approach of the Rainey forwards and brought the scores level on the 11th minute when out half Kerbey landed a penalty when Rainey went offside.
Further encouragement for Boyne was to follow on the 26th minute when winger, Kevin McCleery, finished off excellent work by his inside backs to cross for a try which was converted by Kerbey.
The Boyne defence was excellent in keeping the threat of the Rainey forwards under control but they relented on the 34th minute when a series of phases saw Rainey score a try which they failed to convert to bring the score to 10pts to 8pts at half time.
In a match which had contrasting tactics with Boyne seeking to penetrate the visitors defence line with excellent breaks particularly by full back, Eoghan Duffy, who was a potent threat to the opposition every time in possession. Boyne conceded an unnecessary penalty on the 45th minute which saw Rainey take the lead when they punished the Boyne indiscretion with 3pts.
Boyne suffered another set back entering the second half when their No 8, Stuart Lambe had to retire through injury. Lambe's influence and experience has been a big part of Boyne's upsurge in recent form.
In a ding dong encounter, Boyne's response was swift and in yet another fine passage of play, centre Brian Howell crossed for his sides second try with Kerbey converting to take a 17pts to 11pts lead. Boyne were striving hard to protect this precarious lead with their defence unyielding until the Rainey forwards finally got the upper hand through a series of drives which took them to within scoring range to cross for their second try which they converted to give them the slenderest of leads 17pts to 18pts on 72 minutes.
Boyne's resilience prevailed right up to the final whistle to get the vital score and were extremely unlucky on the 80th minute when the officials failed to detect a deliberate obstruction on Boyne centre, Howell, when he was prevented from taking a pass which would have yielded a try. At worst this would have been a penalty in a very kickable position for the home side. However, in the final minutes of injury time the visitors held their line and discipline intact to deny Boyne the vital win they needed.
Whilst this was the narrowest of defeats, nevertheless, Boyne could not be faulted for their efforts with every player putting in a brave performance over the 80 minutes of this game. The trip to Bruff will be a tough one but the players and supporters will travel with great hope and encouragement based on recent games which has seen a great improvement in the teams performances.
Supporters wishing to travel to Bruff on the bus from the club can contact the clubs office at 041 9837103 between 9:30am and 1pm for details.
Boyne: Eoghan Duffy; Robbie Brodigan, (Adam Brodigan) John Sweeney, Brian Howell, Kevin McCleery; Nicky Smith, Niall Kerbey; Patrick Shuttleworth, (Jerry Onianwa) George Cooney, (Capt) Hugh Carolan; Richard Shuttleworth, Declan Moore; Ciaran Smith, (Jack Woods) Rory Hennessy, Stuart Lambe (Ben Dunphy).