Sunday 19 November 2017

Garryowen fight to preserve top-flight status

Neil Cronin played a crucial captain’s role last week when he scored a try and kicked 16 points to see off Old Wesley. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Neil Cronin played a crucial captain’s role last week when he scored a try and kicked 16 points to see off Old Wesley. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Garryowen will look to take the last step in their bid to remain in the top flight when they host Limerick rivals Bohs in this afternoon's 1B play-off in Dooradoyle.

It has been a very disappointing season for the Light Blues, who will have their work cut out against a Bohs team who have been flying in 1B.

Neil Cronin, younger brother of Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean, played a crucial captain's role last week when he scored a try and kicked 16 points to see off Old Wesley.

The scrum-half has been a bright spark for Garryowen and will need to be again if they are to avoid being relegated.

It was a comfortable win in the end, while Bohs had to come through a tough test away to Naas. They will be hoping that counts in their favour today as they look to secure promotion.

Bohs' Kiwi centre Rick McKenna was in fine form with the boot and they will likely run Garryowen close.

Bohs were made to sweat against Naas, but having got the job done, they will be quietly confident of doing so again.

There is another Munster derby in the Division 1B promotion/relegation play-off as Dolphin look to stop their slide down the ladder when they welcome Nenagh Ormond to Irish Independent Park.

Despite putting a decent late run together, Dolphin paid the price for their hugely inconsistent season.

Nenagh, who finished third in 2A, completed a stunning second-half comeback away to Highfield to reach the final as Clayton Stewart scored all 13 points, including a fine try.

Old Crescent will be hoping that home advantage counts in their favour against Armagh in the 2A final, while in the 2B decider, ex-Ulster players Ricky Andrew and Tim Barker's influence could be key when Rainey look to see off Tullamore.

Ulster junior champions Omagh will hope to secure their place in 2C when they travel to Meath to take on a Boyne side who narrowly avoided the automatic drop.

Meanwhile, Cork Con go in search of their fifth consecutive Bateman Cup today when they meet an Old Belvedere outfit who have struggled this season.

Con also have the league final to look forward to next weekend and Belvo will be hoping that they have one eye on that.

It is Belvo's first appearance in the final, and given that 29 points separated the two sides in the league table, it would take a huge effort to upset the odds.

Despite having home advantage, Belvo's relegation to 1B next season won't have them filled with any great confidence, while Con arrive in Dublin for the second week in a row before they return again next weekend.

Not for the first time, Tomas Quinlan was Con's hero in their league semi-final win over Lansdowne last week as he kicked 14 points.

Con's priority will be league but they should get the ideal preparation today.

Ulster Bank League fixtures

(2.30 unless stated)

Bateman Cup final: Old Belvedere v Cork Con, Anglesea Road, 12.45.

Division 1B promotion play-off: Garryowen v UL Bohs, Dooradoyle, 2.30. Division 2A promotion play-off: Dolphin v Nenagh Ormond, Irish Independent Park, 2.30.

Division 2A/2B promotion play-off: Armagh v Old Crescent, Rosbrien, Palace Grounds, 2.30.

Division 2B/2C promotion play-off: Rainey v Tullamore, Hatrick Park, 2.30. Division 2C Round Robin promotion play-off: Boyne v Omagh, Shamrock Lodge, 2.30.

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