Dungannon send Bruff to basement

Mixed emotions at Kilballyowen Park on Saturday. Dungannon took a giant step towards the summit of Division 1B while their Bruff hosts tumbled into the relegation zone and are left battling for survival.

The home side’s player coach Cathal O’Regan admitted that the economic downturn has impacted on their season but he wasn’t prepared to offer that as the chief excuse for a below par display.

O’Regan said: “We’re struggling like a lot of clubs in terms of emigration and with fellas moving to different places for jobs. This has been a difficult season for us, we’re down about seven players for one reason or another from last season We’ve had a few retirements as well but we’re coping. We have had four wins on the trot (before Saturday), but it is a pity we couldn’t keep it going.

“We were in this position last year too with a more experienced panel, so the positives are that a lot of younger guys are coming in, and they’ll be asked to push the boat out over the next couple of games.”

Bruff’s cause wasn’t helped by a scrum which struggled throughout while they never seriously threatened a Dungannon side coached by former Irish prop Justin Fitzpatrick. The Ulster great wasn’t allowing his charges to get carried away by this result. He reasoned: “We have a game in hand with Galwegians next week; the thing is we can control things ourselves, we came here looking for the four points and we move onto the next project next weekend.”

Fitzpatrick’s side started brightly with a fourth minute try from James McMahon, converted by Michael Lawton. Brian Cahill responded with a penalty before Stephen Foster’s 25th minute try, converted by Cahill, pushed the hosts ahead. But back came Dungannon and McMahon’s unconverted 35th minute try left the visitors 12-10 ahead at the interval. Lawton added a 51st minute penalty to make it 15-10 before Cahill struck twice with penalties to give the home side a 16-15 advantage.

However, Dungannon launched a furious late surge which yielded a fine try from left winger Chris Cochrane that Lawton converted, and the winger finished Bruff off with a 77th minute penalty goal as the home side threw caution to the wind. Rather than grabbing the match-saving score, they needlessly conceded the penalty that cost them a crucial losing bonus point.

O’Regan will demand better from his men in their missions against UCC and Buccaneers: “We weren’t good enough on Saturday. The remaining fixtures are must-win games. On our day we’re capable of beating anyone. A win would have taken a bit of heat off us but pressure is a good thing for this team in a sense.”

BRUFF: B Deady, M Cosgrave, A Cashman, G Leonard, P O’Brien, B Cahill, E Maher, S Foster, J Hogan, C O’Sullivan, M O’Connell, B Morrissey, M Carroll, P Clery, J Shine.

Replacements used: D Horan, A Bourke, B Horan, T Cahill, R Finn.

DUNGANNON: C Gaston, M Lawton, P McKenzie, G Telford, C Cochrane, J Bennett, K Campell, G Sinnamon, A Duhig, M Farquhar, T Smith, M Jenkinson C Threlfall, R Halsall, J McMahon.

Replacements used: A Birch, B Bloomfield, M O’Shea.

Referee: O Hodges (IRFU)

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