Thursday 24 January 2019

Sweet revenge as Malahide reach summit

Rugby: Malahide 15 - Thomond 8

Paul Byrne

Malahide sit proudly on top of the All-Ireland League Division 2C for the first time in their history thanks to a hard fought 15-8 victory over Thomond on Saturday afternoon.

Rick Evans' side fought tooth and nail against the league leaders before eventually prevailing thanks to a try in each half. Malahide's victory - coupled with Sligo's defeat - ensured the north Dubliners took top spot in the league with just five games remaining.

Evans' side are on course for a remarkable third promotion in succession but know there is plenty more work to be done before they will entertain talk of going up to Division 2B and joining neighbours Skerries.

Having lost to Omagh in December, Malahide have now gone on to win three games in quick succession to cement their place at the top of the division.

They hosted Thomond on Saturday keen for revenge, having lost 34-17 to the Munster men down in Limerick earlier in the season.

Malahide began the game well but found the Thomond defence difficult to penetrate as scores proved hard to come by early on.

However, the hosts finally found some joy just before half-time, with captain fantastic Eoin Crowley once again going over the try line to give his side the lead.

The score came from a clever maul, with second row Enda McCarthy driving forward before slipping the ball to Crowley who spun off the ruck before diving over for a try. Shane O'Brien was unable to convert, leaving Malahide 5-0 up going in at half-time.

Thomond, playing with a strong wind in the second half, almost got in under the posts after 50 minutes but were held up thanks to some fantastic last-ditch defending by Malahide. But Evan Cusack made it 5-3 with a well-struck penalty for Thomond shortly afterwards as the game entered its final quarter.

With 15 minutes to go Malahide pressure was rewarded with a penalty and this time Shane O'Brien made no mistake with the boot as he extended his side's lead to 8-3.

Malahide were given a further boost with 10 minutes remaining as Darragh O'Neill was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle.

However, Thomond responded to that setback brilliantly as Cusack hit an audacious cross-field ball which was gathered in his stride by Liam Brock to score in the corner and make it 8-8.

With five minutes remaining Thomond's indiscipline struck again and they were down to 12 men as two of their players received yellow cards.

Malahide took advantage of their numerical advantage by creating a maul in the Thomond 22 which eventually resulted in a penalty try being awarded to the hosts.

With just 12 men on the pitch Thomond were happy enough to kick the ball out of play and end the match with a losing bonus point.

Meanwhile, Malahide are continuing to go from strength to strength as they look to make it a sensational three promotions on the bounce.

Their next test is away to promotion rivals Bangor on Saturday week, and with just six points covering the top six teams there are likely to be plenty more twists and turns before the end of the season.

Fingal Independent