Knife-edge nail-biters underline quality in top flight
Leinster League round-up
Those pundits who suggested this would be the most wide-open Division 1A in recent memory were proven correct in the opening instalment of games as no team managed to snare a four-try bonus point and only one defeated club failed to pick up a losing bonus point.
Suttonians were the only side that failed to garner points of any hue as they went down 30-21 at home in the JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds to Cill Dara but at half-time the hosts looked on course not only for the win but also for maximum points as they had netted three tries in establishing a 21-10 advantage.
But two tries around the hour mark scored by second-row Daragh Kennedy and scrum-half Barry Waters built on an earlier touchdown from prop Conor McCormack as the Kildare town club opened their campaign with a terrific come-from-behind win.
Dundalk were the other team to win away from home when they made the short trip to Ashbourne and returned home from Milltown House with a precious 24-18 victory.
Lock forward Mike Bentley scored a try after a quarter of an hour as the visitors edged into an 8-6 half-time lead before loosehead prop Jonny Gray’s touchdown midway through the second period opened up a game-winning position that the hosts were unable to breach despite crossing the whitewash twice.
Coolmine prevailed by 14-10 at home in Ashbrook in the Dublin derby against Monkstown, with second-row Gerald O’Rourke scoring the second-half try that along with the kicking of full-back James Ring helped the home side through after the sides were deadlocked 3-3 at the interval.
It was the turn of another established top-tier team to triumph in Saturday’s remaining encounter as Enniscorthy beat Clondalkin 22-17 at home in Ross Road.
The home side’s three-quarter division is considered by many to be the best in the league and they didn’t disappoint at the weekend as wingers Ivan Jacob and John Clare chipped in with a pair of first-half tries to help create a 15-11 lead at the break before out-half Ivan Poole’s second half touchdown sealed the deal.
Tomorrow Cill Dara welcome Coolmine to Beechpark, where the hosts went unbeaten last season, Suttonians face a further tough examination in their new Leinster League surroundings when they travel to play Dundalk at Mill Road, Monkstown entertain Enniscorthy at Sydney Parade and Clondalkin play host to Ashbourne in a game neither side will want to lose at Gordon Park in Kingswood.
Action commences throughout the rest of the Leinster League on Sunday with Division 1B looking a particularly feisty battlefield with serious contenders such as Kilkenny, Gorey and Malahide, who have made the signing of the summer in securing the services of former Ireland star Malcolm O’Kelly, who has already featured for the north county Dublin side in the Spencer Cup.
In Division 2A, Mullingar have been making great strides over the summer as well as in pre-season and it’s far too long since the Westmeath club was feasting at the top table of Leinster rugby.
Athy and Edenderry would appear to be the pick of the crop in Division 2B, while Wexford Wanderers will be keen to bounce back after relegation to Division 3 last season.
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