Old Crescent 7
HIGHFIELD bounced back after last week’s defeat in Navan with a hard-fought victory at Woodleigh Park to open up a 10-point lead in Division 2A of the All Ireland League with just four games remaining.
It was touch and go whether or not this game would go ahead after heavy rain before the kick-off left several pools of water on the pitch.
Great credit to the ground staff and some prominent club members who rolled up their sleeves to get the game played. Thankfully no more rain fell.
This win guarantees Highfield at least a place in the play-offs, but it is the automatic promotion spot they are aiming for and, on this form, victories over Dolphin away and Cashel home in their next two games could seal their place in Division 1B next season.
The strong wind, which blew across the pitch, probably favoured Old Crescent in the opening half and it meant the game was going to be a forward battle.
It was Highfield who dominated the early exchanges with Michael Dillane and Chris Bannon making impressive breaks to set a platform for the home pack.
Fintan O’Sullivan, Colm Gallagher, and Miah Cronin were working hard to gain ground.
Good defensive work by Luke Malone and Kevin Doyle and excellent relieving kicks by Ronan McKenna helped Crescent keep their line intact.
Highfield thought they had opened the scoring in the 25th minute, but Crescent were awarded a penalty for double-crossing.
Four minutes before half-time, Highfield did break deadlock when, following a great break by Shane O’Riordan and carried on by Dan Healy, the ball was recycled out the backs. Gavin O’Leary scored in the corner and O’Riordan converted from the sideline into the strong gale.
McKenna missed a long-range Crescent penalty on the stroke of half-time to leave Highfield ahead 7-0.
Dillane became the third player to be yellow-carded early in the second half after Crescent’s Donal Murphy and Highfield’s Timmy Ryan, in separate incidents, before the interval.
Crescent’s early second-half pressure was rewarded in the 53rd minute when quick ball out the back-line saw Kevin Meade score and McKenna’s conversion tied up the scores 7-7.
Highfield sealed the win with two well-worked tries. Following a line out on the Crescent 22, the Highfield pack mauled the ball over the line for Cian O’Sullivan to touch down and O’Riordan’s conversion made it 14-7.
A similar move resulted in O’Sullivan’s second try to ensure victory.
Scorers for Highfield: C O’Sullivan 2 tries, G O’Leary try, S O’Riordan 2 cons.
Old Crescent: K Meade try, R McKenna con.
HIGHFIELD: K Duggan; G O’Leary, D O’Sullivan, P O’Toole, P stack; S O’Riordan, C Bannon; M Dillane, D Healy, T Ryan; D O’Connell, F O’Sullivan; C Gallagher, K O’Leary, M Cronin.
Replacements: D O’Callaghan, C O’Sullivan, E Earle, M Dorgan, P Downes.
OLD CRESCENT: K Meade; D Garry, C Monaghan, L Hanley, V McDermott; R McKenna, G Fitzgerald; C O’Reilly, M Rickard, D Murphy; D O’Brien, T Tali Toia; J O’Neill, L Malone, K Doyle.
Replacements: S O’Brien, A Simpson, C Reale, K Madden, E Murphy.
Referee: R Kerr (IRFU).