Friday 23 March 2018

Mals back to winning ways after rare loss

Rugby: Malahide 34 Tullamore 22

Paul Byrne

Malahide bounced back from a rare loss the previous weekend to see off Tullamore in a hard-fought game at Estuary Road on Saturday afternoon.

Losses have been few and far between for Malahide over the last couple of seasons under Rick Evans, and following that reality check in Sligo the men in black and amber had to regroup and show their character as they made it two wins from three in the All-Ireland League.

Tullamore hadn't enjoyed the best start to the season, losing both of their opening matches, but they gave unbeaten Thomond a tough match and Malahide knew that this wouldn't be an easy task.

They began with former Irish international Mike Ross at number three and looked threatening early on, with both Dave Mongan and Marcus McAllister seeing plenty of the ball in attacking positions.

Hugo Nolan almost put Malahide ahead in the fourth minute with a wonderful break through the Tullamore defence, but unfortunately for the home side he knocked the ball on just as he was about to put the ball down for a try.

That was a let-off for Tullamore, but they would have no such luck just a minute later as McAllister beat his man before powering over the whitewash for the game's opening try. The always reliable Conal Keane made no mistake with the conversion to give Malahide an early 7-0 lead.

The home side were in the groove now and just two minutes later they were in again as Darragh Sweeney finished off a good move, taking a nice reverse pass from Hugo Nolan before going over for Malahide's second try. Once again Keane sent over the extras as Malahide went 14-0 up.

That second try seemed to wake Tullamore from their slumbers as they finally began to put a few passes together and push Malahide back into their own 22.

That pressure yielded their first try of the day as Kevin Browne used his strength to bundle his way over the Malahide line to put his side on the scoreboard. The conversion was missed, which meant that after 12 breathless minutes it was 14-5 to Malahide.

The game settled down after that whirlwind start and the next score didn't arrive until the 25th minute as Mongan found a gap before going in under the posts for Malahide's third try.

Keane stepped up once more to make it 21-5 to the hosts and he then added a penalty five minutes later to stretch Malahide's lead to 19 points.

However, Tullamore ended the half on the front foot and went over for a deserved try to leave the halftime scoreboard reading 24-10.

Malahide began the second half in style, with speed merchant Joe Moran showing a blistering turn of pace to leave the Tullamore defence for dead before going over for Malahide's fourth try.

Keane sent over the conversion to give Malahide a 31-10 lead.

To Tullamore's credit they refused to give up and their efforts were rewarded with two tries late on to give the scoreboard a bit more respectability and earn themselves a bonus point.

Malahide had chances late on to put a more emphatic look on the scoreboard, but in the end they were pleased to come out on top with a solid 34-22 victory.

The win moves Malahide up to fourth place in the table, just two points behind leaders Omagh.

Evans' men, who have made a name for themselves due to their attacking brand of rugby, have already scored more points than any other team in Division 2C - exactly 100 to be precise.

Next up is a trip to Seapoint this coming weekend.

Malahide: Marcus McAllister; Dave Mongan, Daragh Sweeney, Rory Kavanagh, Richie Forbes; Conal Keane, Hugo Nolan; Tom Collis, Peter O'Connor, Mike Ross; Cameron Ross, Dave Nolan; Simon Kinsella, Leo Weiss, Chris O'Brien.

Fingal Independent