Dolphin pile on pain for Bohs

Dolphin 27 UL Bohemians 9

As the respective packs waited for the game to restart with a 73rd minute scrum following an injury, the Dolphin forwards were all chat, still geeing each other up even though they were home and hosed. By contrast, the Bohs pack stood not as one, but as eight. Hands on hips, seeking the solace of their individual thoughts, no doubt baffled as to how they were well beaten on the scoreboard despite making most of the running at Musgrave Park.

Shannon’s stunning demolition of Cork Con has left Bohs bottom of the Ulster Bank League Division 1A table this morning, and they have five games to avoid going straight back down after last season’s promotion.

“You can play all the rugby you want, but without the execution it means nothing,” said a disconsolate Bohs full-back Ben Martin. “One or two mistakes turn matches in this league. If you’re not looking after your ball, a couple of turnovers will lead to points. You can get away with it in Division 1B, but not here. Ruthlessness, accuracy and the physicality of the breakdown are the main differences between the two divisions.”

Martin arrived in Limerick via New York in 2004, and is in his second spell with Bohs, having also had stints in France and his native Australia. But he wants to stick around to be part of what he believes is a bright future for Bohs despite the tough season they’re enduring.

“There’s an absolute desire (to keep fighting),” he said. “Ours is a very young side, the future of the club is very bright, but at the moment we lack a killer edge... but it’s a matter of when, not if, it clicks. Hopefully I can be a part of it when it does.”

Things don’t get any easier for Bohs with champions-elect Lansdowne next up, but for Dolphin it’s looking a little rosier in the garden. They got dragged into this relegation battle almost by accident as February yielded three defeats by three points or less. But this victory has stopped the rot and provided a bit of breathing room, while on the horizon are consecutive home games, against Young Munster and Shannon.

As with his predecessor in the Dolphin number 10 shirt John O’Mahony, Barry Keeshan’s ultra-consistent goalkicking remains a vital component for the Cork men.

He punished indiscipline from the visitors three times in the first half and converted a John Gleeson try, with James Cronin adding another five-pointer for a healthy 21-3 half-time lead.

Gleeson dotted down 24 minutes in when Bohs scrum-half Tim Rafferty fumbled Cian Bohane’s grubber near his own line under pressure from Danny Barnes.

Cronin’s try just before the break was one to remember, Barnes making the initial line-break inside his own half before some intricate passing between backs and forwards down the left put prop Cronin into open country, and he surged home from 25 metres.

Bohs had made most of the running but Martin was bundled into touch as he tried to score in the corner and aside from a botched JJ Hanrahan drop-goal attempt, that was as good as it got for the Limerick men, whose sole first-half score came from a Martin penalty. Two more Martin efforts helped them chip into the Dolphin lead, and although Keeshan dropped a goal in response, Gleeson saw yellow for a breakdown offence with 15 minutes to go to offer Bohs one last lifeline. But after replacement scrum-half Brian Slater’s try-saving tackle on Bohs flanker Ian Condell, the fight went out of the visitors and Keeshan ended the contest three minutes from time with another penalty to take his tally to 17 points.

Scorers for Dolphin: J Gleeson, J Cronin try each; B Keeshan con, 4 pens, drop goal.

Scorers for UL Bohs: B Martin 3 pens.

DOLPHIN: E Mills; J Kiernan, D Barnes, C Bohane, J Gleeson; B Keeshan, C Bannon; J Cronin, N Scannell (capt), C Condon; D O’Mahony, D O’Shea; R O’Herlihy, M Cronin, B O’Callaghan.

Rolling replacements: W Foley, J Leahy, J Cleary, B Slater, H Fleming.

UL BOHEMIANS: B Martin; M McPhail, M Lawler, M Abraham, R Whyte; JJ Hanrahan, T Rafferty; T Burke, J Sutton, K Flanagan; E Kelly (capt), D Frawley; C Kindregan, I Condell, S Rennison.

Rolling replacements: A Simpson, D Coady, B Walsh, J O’Donoghue, A Enright.

Referee: D Philips (IRFU).

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