Nenagh Ormond’s hopes of earning promotion to division 1B of the Ulster Bank League suffered a significant blow at New Ormond Park on Saturday when Malone landed in Tipperary and won 29-22.
Ulster Bank League Division 2A
Nenagh Ormond 22-29 Malone
Although Nenagh Ormond did reasonably well to fight back from 0-24 behind to earn themselves a losing bonus point a lacklustre opening twenty-six minutes cost the home side dearly. Indeed, Malone are now back in the promotion picture with five points separating the top four sides (Banbridge 55 points, Highfield 53 points, Nenagh Ormond 51 points & Malone 50 points) with two rounds of games to play.
Nenagh Ormond, who were most obviously disappointed with their performance against Malone, must now grit their teeth and prepare for a clash against local rivals Cashel RFC at Spafield on Friday, April 7th (7.30pm). And, with Cashel RFC working hard to ensure their survival in the division this contest promises to be an absolute cracker.
Nenagh Ormond will conclude their league programme at home to Belfast Harlequins on Saturday, April 15th. Banbridge are at home to Queen’s University on Saturday next before closing out the season away to Sunday’s Well. Highfield host Malone on Saturday, April 8th while Malone are at home to Cashel on final day and Highfield are away to Queen’s. Therefore Nenagh Ormond’s best hope of forcing their way into the top two is by winning their remaining games and, also, by hoping that Highfield will lose at least once. Malone could overtake Nenagh by dint of bonus points, but such a scenario is unlikely. And, Nenagh Ormond, of course, will get nothing easy against Cashel RFC on Friday night next.
Nenagh Ormond made a poor start to proceedings on Saturday and fell behind 0-3 following a penalty for holding on as early as the tenth minute. The opening quarter featured a series of handling errors from the home side before Malone streaked in for the opening try of the game in the 18th minute (0-10). Four minutes later Malone carved Nenagh open for another converted try (0-17) while the Belfast side notched their third try in the 26th minute. The extras were added and we were left wondering what had happened to the Ormond lads (0-24). To be fair to Nenagh this performance was not consistent with the squad’s excellent displays this season.
Nenagh asserted themselves in the contest and almost raced in for a stunning try in the 29th minute, but full-back Ethan Moloney was denied in the corner thanks to a superb tackle. The Malone defence stood tall and scrambled well to deny Nenagh a try on their line in the 32nd minute before Ormond, finally, made the breakthrough in the 36th minute - following a mauled line-out Nenagh worked the ball out to Willie Coffey who made no mistake from close range (5-24).
This was much more like it from Nenagh and in the fourth minute of first half injury time Willie O’Connor barged his way over for a terrific five-pointer which Clayton Stewart converted (12-24).
There was still hope for Nenagh Ormond to turn this contest around. The home side were operating with a strong wind at their backs and Nenagh, sensibly, booted over a penalty four minutes after the break to close the gap to nine (15-24).
On several occasions it appeared as if Nenagh Ormond would score the try which could have really turned the screw on a valiant Malone. And, Nenagh came close to scoring a key try in the 51st minute, but Willie Coffey was held up on the line.
Disaster struck for Nenagh Ormond in the 61st minute when Malone helped themselves to a breakaway try (15-29).
Nenagh Ormond, to their credit, stuck at it and in a rousing finish pushed Malone off their own scrum and booted to touch with the resultant penalty in the 79th minute. Following a maul Kevin O’Gorman plunged over for a converted try (22-29) and an unlikely comeback was on. Malone, however, clung on and, ultimately, forced a penalty for holding two minutes into injury time.
Nenagh Ormond RFC: Ethan Moloney, Darragh Hassey, Derek Corcoran, William O’Connor, William Coffey, Clayton Stewart, Eoin Gardiner, Fergal Brislane, Conor Muldoon, John Hayes, Kevin Seymour, Kevin O’Flaherty (captain), Michael Slattery, John O’Flaherty, Lemeki Viapulu. Replacements: (1st) John Healy for Michael Slattery, (15th) David Mackey for Eoin Gardiner, (19th) Kevin O’Gorman for Kevin O’Flaherty, (20th) Kevin O’Flaherty for Kevin O’Gorman, (HT) John Coffey for John Hayes, (62nd) Keith Quigley for John O’Flaherty, (63rd) Michael Slattery for Conor Muldoon, (67th) John Hayes for John Coffey, (69th) Conor Muldoon for John Healy, (73rd) Kevin O’Gorman for Kevin Seymour.