AIL rugby: Cork clubs must find their form again after break

Mark Woods previews the weekend club rugby action involving Leeside teams
AIL rugby: Cork clubs must find their form again after break

Ronán O'Sullivan, Highfield is well tackled as he breaks the St Mary’s College defence in their Energia AIL Division 1B match at Woodleigh Park, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

JUST two wins and a draw from a dozen games reflect a dismal start to 2022 for Cork clubs in the energia All- Ireland League.

The resumption following the five-week break hasn’t done many favours for the six teams involved with only Sunday’s Well and Cork Constitution registering victories and Highfield managing a draw.

Last weekend was typical, Con tasting victory with a 24-7 win over UCC and the others losing, but it was also different on another level.

That’s because Munster, like the other provinces, unleashed senior and academy players back to the clubs with Limerick benefitting significantly, notably Garryowen and Shannon.

Whether the 18 or so players are available again tomorrow remains to be seen as clubs gear up for round 12 of the 18-game schedule.

Sean French, Max Abbott and Dave Hyland crossed for tries in Con’s victory, which moved them up to fifth in the division 1A table going into the visit of Ballynahinch to Temple Hill.

Skipper Aidan Moynihan converted all three as well as kicking a penalty as Con crept to within three points of Terenure College and Young Munster.

It’s clearly a critical game for the Cork club particularly as the league steps aside for three weeks after it.

 Greg Higgins, Cork Constitution, breaks the line, on his way to score the second try, chased by Alan Francis, Dublin University. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Greg Higgins, Cork Constitution, breaks the line, on his way to score the second try, chased by Alan Francis, Dublin University. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

College had Munster’s Jack O’Sullivan in their side and his presence would be most welcome again for the daunting trip to leaders Clontarf.

The students prop up the table on scoring difference behind Hinch, whose next game is also on Leeside in a crunch tie at the Mardyke on February 19.

Banbridge are another Ulster club in town tomorrow as they visit Woodleigh Park to take on Highfield, who’ve stuttered a bit in division 1B, losing twice and drawing in their last three games to slip six points behind leaders Old Wesley, but five ahead of St Mary’s and seven clear of Shannon.

The Cork side badly need to return to winning ways and while they lost 27-21 away to City of Armagh last week, ’Field can take encouragement from their battling finish.

Having been 27-0 in arrears, they fought back to be awarded a couple of penalty tries with the returning Mark Dorgan also touching down with James Taylor converting.

Highfield won the corresponding game up north 26-19, scoring four tries in the process, including two from Eddie Earle, for a welcome bonus point. How they’d relish a repeat.

Dolphin also rallied impressively against promotion-chasing Cashel, who led 31-3 after 68 minutes, but tries from Daryl Foley, Murray Linn and Dave Jennings, all converted by Foley, ensured a rousing finish before Cashel won 36-24.

Dolphin, seventh in division 2A on 22 points, travel to play MU Barnhall, who are a place and a point better off.

In division 2C, bottom club Sunday’s Well host second-placed Skerries while Midleton, who are sixth, make the long journey to play City of Derry, who are in eighth.

The Well lost 24-10 to Bangor, Fabien Loughrey scoring a try, and Midleton lost to Omagh 21-14, Alex O’Brien crossing for their try.

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