Dolphin 28 Ballynahinch 35
Despite a valiant effort that yielded four tries and two losing bonus points, Dolphin lost a long battle with relegation at Musgrave Park yesterday and will play their Ulster Bank League rugby in Division 1B next season.
Whatever glimmer of hope they had of fighting on was taken away when fellow strugglers St Mary’s College picked up a losing bonus point at Clifford Park. The Dublin club can’t now be caught when the two sides meet at Templeville Road in a fortnight.
It was a tough but entertaining game at Musgrave Park. The sides shared nine tries, unfortunately for the Cork club, Ballynahinch got five of them. That was enough to give them a deserved win and push them into the top four, with a two-point buffer from nearest rivals Young Munster going into their last game, at home to Clontarf.
“I couldn’t have asked any more from the players in terms of effort,” said disappointed Dolphin coach Steve Ford.
“We played well but it’s just that they played a bit better in that second half. In the patches when we didn’t play so well, it cost us too many points.”
Looking back on the season, Ford felt most of the damage was done early on. “No doubt, the beginning of the season has cost us, with the injuries and with boys not being available. We have got healthier and healthier but again it’s disappointing to lose our last game of the season at home.
“This league has got better and better. Munster clubs are the ones to have struggled the last three years or so purely and simply because they haven’t got the player base but what we need to do now is concentrate on rebuilding.”
“There’s a bigger picture. For us to compete, you’ve got to have a very good team and a very good squad. It’s not easy because I know for a fact we’re going to lose a couple of players to Dublin at the end of the season. If that’s where the work is, that’s where the work is. You’ve got to find a way of rebuilding a structure and that’s not easy but it’s something that has to be done.”
Dolphin enjoyed a whirlwind start with two tries in 13 minutes, the first from Will Hanly and the second from Niall Scannell. Scannell converted both for a 14-point lead.
Ross Adair grabbed one for the visitors and Richard Reany kicked a couple of penalties but the home side added another try from Eamonn Mills and the conversion from Scannell allowed Dolphin to lead 21-11 at the break.
Ballynahinch exploded out of the blocks after the interval with tries from Roger McBirdney and Robert Grattan and a conversion from Reaney within five minutes. Midway through the half, Adam Craig scored the fourth and Grattan converted to push the lead out to nine points at 30-21.
John Madigan powered over for a bonus point try that Scannell converted, but Ballynahinch had still enough energy to score a fifth try from Ross Adair with 10 minutes left.
DOLPHIN: E Mills, R Reardon, M Chandler, C McGovern, W Hanley, R Scannell, D Foley, P McCabe, N Scannell, J Rochford, C Rowe, B Quill, R O’Herlihy, J Quill, J Fitzgerald.
Rolling replacements: K O’Halloran, J Leahy, J Madigan, E O’Shaughnessy, B Keeshan.
BALLYNAHINCH: R McBurney, A Craig, J Grattan, S McCauley, R Adair, R Reaney, A Cairns, K McCall, J Murphy, Jonathan Simpson, James Simpson, J Madden, C Butterworth, P Pritchard, M Graham.
Rolling replacements: R Murphy, C Trenier, D McGuigan, J McBriar, K Morton.
Referee: L Colgan (IRFU)
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