Sunday 20 January 2019

Malahide's dreams dashed

Malahide 32 Sligo 34

Malahide's dreams of automatic promotion ended as they fell just short in what was a pulsating game on Distillery Road.

The game was moved from Estuary Road due to an unplayable pitch, but for those lucky supporters who made the trip to the Belvedere College venue this game will live long in the memory.

Although this defeat ensured Malahide can't finish top, they still have a route to promotion, with the second, third and fourth sides all entering a round robin along with a team from Division 2B. With the top two (Thomond and Sligo) playing each other next weekend, a bonus point victory for Malahide could well see them finish the regular season in second spot and guarantee a home semi-final in the round-robin play-off format.

Sligo took the lead early on with a wonderful try following good work from their out half, but the conversion was missed.

Malahide responded with a Shane O'Brien penalty before they took the lead with a wonderful try which was finished off by Conor Clifford. Dave Mongan began the move with a great run down the right before the ball was swept across to Clifford within three passes to the opposite wing. Clifford showed some fancy footwork to dance around three Sligo players before going over the line. O'Brien made no mistake with the conversion to send Malahide 10-5 ahead.

Shane O'Brien hit his second penalty to make it 13-5 before Sligo went over with their second try. The visitors had the final say of a pulsating opening forty minutes with their third try of the game to go in at the break 17-13 ahead.

Captain Eoin Crowley continued his rich vein of try-scoring form with a wonderful finish to a great team move just after the break. Crowley began the move in his own half before carrying a further three times, the last of which saw him crash over the line to make it 20-17 to the hosts.

Ten minutes later it seemed as though Malahide had put themselves well and truly in the driving seat as John O'Brien ran a sensational line, allowing him to trot over for the simplest of finishes. Once again O'Brien made no mistake with the extras to make it 27-17 going into the final quarter.

Sligo responded with their fourth try to reduce the deficit to three and a fifth try followed shortly afterwards for the men from the West as they took a four-point lead at a crucial stage of the match.

Back came Malahide, with the always reliable Marcus McAllister turning on the afterburners to leave the Sligo defence in his wake as he dived over the line to make it 32-31 to Malahide with two minutes left.

The drama wasn't finished just yet however as Sligo's number ten produced a moment of magic as he perfectly executed a drop goal to put his side two points clear.

With seconds left Malahide earned a penalty in front of the posts. With Shane O'Brien substituted earlier, having broken his wrist, the substitute kicker pulled his kick inches wide, confirming the narrowest of defeats.

Fingal Independent