AIL: Highfield back in play-off picture after crucial win over UCC

Victory for the hosts in a fine Division 1B Energia All Ireland League contest at Woodleigh Park
AIL: Highfield back in play-off picture after crucial win over UCC

John O'Callaghan, Highfield, is well tackled by UCC players Billy Kiernan and Daniel Squires in their Energia All Ireland League Division 1B match at Woodleigh Park. Picture: Dan Linehan

Highfield 29 UCC 10

THE bragging rights belong to Highfield after an absorbing closing 20 minutes in this Division 1B Energia All Ireland League contest at Woodleigh Park.

The bonus-point win brings Highfield back into contention for the promotion play-offs, after a series of poor results recently, while for College it was a fourth successive defeat that sees them slip further down the table to seventh.

Cian Bohane started at out-half for Highfield as both first and second-choice number 10s were not available, but the former College coach and player filled the gap expertly. Chris Banon came in for his first start of the season and was also a thorn in the College side.

There was a minute’s silence before the game for Jerry Holland who had played with both clubs. Over the 80 minutes, Highfield were the better side, but a late rally by the Students nearly snatched the game from the home side.

Totally outplayed in the first half and trailing 12-0 at half-time, College rallied after the interval and, with five minutes remaining, trailed 17-10 and were in the ascendency as they continued to pin Highfield back into their own 22 when Bohane gathered the ball on his own goal line.

He weaved through several College tackles and found a gap as he brought play into the UCC half. Highfield recycled the ball several times and Bohane was held up short of the line but kept the attack going with Amhlaoibh Porter crashing over the line for his second try and Bohane’s conversion secured the bonus point win.

From the restart, Highfield went back on the attack with a lovely break up the wing, and Dave O’Sullivan was on hand to touch down for Highfield’s fifth try and a 29-10 victory, which did not look possible five minutes earlier.

In the opening minutes, UCC winger Emeka Asiegbu was replaced by Aaron Quirke following an injury and little was seen of the Students as an attacking force.

Highfield were dominating the forward exchanges at both scrum and lineout, while Mark Dorgan, Liam McCarthy, and Mark McLoughlin were proving dangerous with ball in hand.

Despite play being played in the College half for the opening quarter, Highfield had to wait until the 23rd minute for their opening score. Constant pressure near the Students’ line saw Travis Cooney touch down and Bohane converted for a 7-0 lead.

College came more into the game with Jack O’Sullivan and Jacob Sheahan being prominent in the loose for the Students, but a yellow card for Sean Condon saw Highfield take control again.

Highfield were unable to capitalise with the extra numbers and it was just on Condon’s return from the sin-bin, that Highfield scored their second try.

Following a Highfield lineout in the UCC 22, which John O’Callaghan won, the home side mauled the ball towards the line and Cooney touched down for a 12-0 interval lead.

Highfield extended their advantage in the 55th minute when Porter scored.

Pressure from College was rewarded in the 62nd minute with a try from Louis Bruce, converted by Daniel Squires after excellent work in the build-up by Jacob Sheahan, Andrew O’Mahony, Peter Hyland, and Jack O’Sullivan.

This score gave the Students more belief that they could get something from this tie.

In the 75th minute, Highfield were awarded a scrum just outside their own 22, but back-chat saw College being awarded a penalty and Squires converted to leave the Students back in the game at 17-10.

From the restart, College brought play back into Highfield’s half with some excellent drives by Sam O’Sulliva,n but Highfield reasserted themselves with Bohane’s great run that saw Highfield score twice in added time.

Colman and Oscar Twomey watching the Highfield v UCC match. Picture: Dan Linehan
Colman and Oscar Twomey watching the Highfield v UCC match. Picture: Dan Linehan

Scorers for Highfield: T Coomey 2 tries, A Porter 2 tries, D O’Sullivan try, C Bohane try.

UCC: L Bruce try, D Squires con, pen.

HIGHFIELD: M McLoughlin; B Murphy, M Dorgan, L McCarthy, L Kingston; C Bohane, C Banon; C Buckley, T Coomey, J French; J O’Callaghan, S Garrett; D O’Connell, P Amhlaoibh, M Cronin.

Replacements: R Murphy, I McCarthy, A Keane, M Fitzgibbon, C O’Neill, D O’Sullivan.

UCC: J Murphy; S Condon, L Bruce, D Squires, E Asiegbu; B Kiernan, A O’Mahony; R Duggan, L McAuliffe, D McCarthy; A Brien, M Bissessar; S O’Sullivan, J Sheahan, J O’Sullivan.

Replacements: D Sheahan, C Hanlon, P McBarron, P Hyland, A Walsh, A Quirke.

Referee: S Kierans (IRFU).

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