DOLPHIN’S winless run in the Energia AIL Division 2A continued on Saturday afternoon at Musgrave Park as they went down 49-14 to Nenagh Ormond.
The Cork side, who only have two victories all season in the league, started well with Rob Reardon and Barry Fitzgerald scoring tries to give them a 14-6 lead with just 10 minutes left in the first half.
Nenagh were inspired by left-wing David Gleeson, who helped them score 36 unanswered points in the second half.
The end result undid a brilliant start by Dolphin, which saw them win a scrum with just 20 seconds on the clock. Just as this drive seem to gather momentum, a penalty was given and the visitors used this to win a line-out on the Dolphin five-metre line.
Dylan Murphy threw this in and the maul was immediately covered in navy jerseys, which prevented Kevin O’Flaherty from cutting through. Nenagh quickly released and sent the ball back to the second row, and once again he was covered in Dolphin jerseys. The pressure paid off when a loose ball was snatched, and the home side cleared their lines.
Their defence was complimented by an almost perfect set-piece routine involving Tomas Quinlan kicking the ball out for a line-out on the Nenagh 22. Cian Scott threw the ball in and Dolphin’s maul pushed the opposition back, almost on their own five-metre line. Unfortunately, a knock-on was cited by the referee and the drive ended in a Nenagh scrum.
A succession of early penalties meant that there was no real flow to the early minutes of the game, but Dolphin did not mind. Their play was almost seamless and they rightfully dominated possession, they just lacked that final pass that would have given them an early score.
Neagh capitalised on this by picking off a Dolphin line-out and breaking into the Dolphin 22 through some excellent carries by Josh Rowland and Gleeson. The left-wing tried to dink the ball through and set up an opportunity but Daryl Foley was in the right place and collected this for Dolphin.
The quick start, resolute defensive work, and set-piece domination were undone by two scored penalties by Gleeson and Nenagh took a six-point lead with just over 19 minutes played.
A response was needed and Rob Reardon was the person to deliver it as he cut through the Nenagh line and ran over the first try of the game. Quinlan then split the posts with a close-range conversion and Dolphin went ahead by one point.
On the half-hour mark, Dolphin had the opportunity to take a penalty. They chose to tap the ball, and this allowed Barry Fitzgerald to burrow through and put over their second try in quick succession. Quinlan added the conversion and this gave the home side an eight-point cushion as half-time loomed.
Two blows like that inflamed the tempers of Nenagh and they cut Dolphin’s lead to one within seconds of the restart. Willie Coffey ran over after a flurry on the goal line and Gleeson added the conversion, making it 14-13.
Just one minute was gone in the second half and Nenagh used a line-out to create space for Nicky Irwin, who sprinted over the goal line for his side’s second try. Gleeson beat a tight angle to curl over the conversion and the Tipperary side went up 20-14.
The left-wing kept up his 100% record from place-kicking by adding another penalty to his tally, and Nenagh added three to their lead.
Their win was completed, and all but assured, when a lightning-quick counter-attack allowed Dylan Murphy through and he ran over with ease. Gleeson kicked over the conversion and with just over a quarter of the game left to play, Nenagh were firmly in control.
Derek Corcoran added another to their tally and Gleeson put over the conversion. John Hayes ran over their final score of the game as their left-wing missed the conversion, and that ended his perfect place-kicking run.
Despite this end-of-game frustration, Nenagh left the pitch knowing their push to gain promotion to Division 2A is well and truly on.