AIL: Sunday's Well relegated to junior despite gutsy display at Musgrave Park

Cork side picked up 16 points from their last four Division 2C games but it was too late to save their status
AIL: Sunday's Well relegated to junior despite gutsy display at Musgrave Park

Sunday's Well come out to face Bangor at Musgrave Park. Picture: Dan Linehan

Sunday’s Well 31 Bangor 27

SUNDAY'S Well's status as a senior club came to an end at Musgrave Park with their final Division 2C Energia AIL game of the season. 

They went out in style at least; with a five-try victory over a fired-up Bangor team seeing them close out the season with 16 points from their final four games.

That statistic demonstrates that their relegation certainly wasn’t caused by their end to the season. While they could have snatched a victory away to Ballina in their one loss during that stretch; gaining only 11 points from the opening 14 games made it a massive uphill task for them to survive. While they made a near miraculous escape last season they were left with too much to do this time.

Outgoing President of Sunday’s Well Diarmaid Hallissey had mixed emotions on a sadly historical day for the club, but struck an optimistic note on what lies ahead. 

"We are naturally disappointed that the season has ended like this; after all the work of the players and the backroom staff throughout the season. Already, the club is focused for the task ahead. While not happy to be demoted to junior rugby we are looking forward to the new adventure and challenge it will bring.

“Obviously; our aim straight from the outset will be to aim to challenge at the top and regain our senior status, whilst acknowledging it will be a tough task with many good clubs competing against us. There is a long history of senior rugby in the club, and it is a proud tradition that everyone wants to regain for the future.

“There is great strength and spirit. We made a great finish to the season; winning three of our last four games. We are looking to build on that, and it was a great win today that epitomised the spirit and determination that is very much still within the club.”

Sunday's Well's Conor O'Brien winning this ball against Bangor during their Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2C match at Musgrave Park. Picture: Dan Linehan
Sunday's Well's Conor O'Brien winning this ball against Bangor during their Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2C match at Musgrave Park. Picture: Dan Linehan

The game itself was another open topsy-turvy affair with both teams going at it from the off. The Well had the advantage of a stiff wind early on and their magnificent line-out saw them take control. Ross Taylor; the powerhouse second-row scored tries either side of the half. 

The big South African was unavailable for most of the season and given his displays in the final couple of games; his greater availability could have made a bigger difference to the club’s season.

Shane Keevers also touched down in the first half. Excellent defensive pressure saw the Well line push up. Bangor tried to put width on the ball under pressure, leading to Keevers racing through. Bangor scored two tries themselves to stay in touch as they trailed 19-12 at the break, needing at least two points themselves to guarantee avoiding a relegation play-off.

Bangor applied immense pressure at the start of the second half but the resolute Well defence kept them at bay. Half-backs Fabien Loughrey and Harry McHenry controlled the tempo as the Well regained possession. Following several penalties that saw the Ulster side reduced to 13 men; Conor O’Brien put through back-row Cormac Kelliher who scored in the corner.

Starting prop-forward David Hourigan came off around the hour mark and that allowed a chance for Bangor’s scrum to take control. They got a penalty-try off one scrum; before Rhys Larmous kicked another penalty resulting from a scrum to make it a 24-22 game.

With a full complement; Bangor pushed hard and took the lead courtesy of Patrick Dobie on 72 minutes. The Well made one final push. A great defensive chase earned them an attacking penalty in the Twenty-Two. After a series of carries; it was Finn MacFhlannchadha that sealed the crucial try with Kelliher taking on kicking duties to seal the win.

Scorers for Sunday’s Well: C Kelliher try, con; R Taylor (2), S Keevers, F MacFhlannchadha tries; F Loughrey 2 cons.

Bangor: A Smith, D Young, penalty try, P Dobie tries; R Larmour con, pen.

SUNDAY’S WELL: G Downey; K Maye, E O’Sullivan, R Geary, S Keevers; H McHenry, F Loughrey; D Hourigan, J McHenry, M McCarthy; J Costello, R Taylor; C Kelliher, D O’Brien, C O‘Brien (c).

Replacements: J Downey, A Brown, A Mintern, F MacFhlannchadha, R O’Donoghue-Kelleher.

BANGOR: R Larmour; C Young, A McIvor, M Widdowson, C Scollan; G Millar, A Lowry; O McIlmurray, T Boyd, J Leary; C Burton, J Thallon; D Horrox (c), A Smith, M Weir.

Replacements: A Jackson, A Shaw, P Dobie, R Young, R Gamble.

Referee: S Kierans (IRFU).

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