Highfield’s ‘special achievement’ still sinking in

Celebrations continued throughout the weekend at Woodleigh Park after Highfield produced a sensational smash-and-grab raid to secure another Ulster Bank League title.

The Cork club were crowned Division 2B champions a year after winning the Division 2C title when they came from behind to hammer Bective Rangers (59-7) on Saturday.

That incredible scoring run saw them pip long-term leaders City of Derry thanks to a superior points difference of 151 to 141.

Derry were once runaway leaders of the division but lost five of their last six games. Even then, they could have secured automatic promotion but for Highfield’s final flurry and undoubtedly their best display of the season.

Highfield coach Tim Ryan is still struggling to make sense of it all. 

“Sometimes you get a rub of the green but we played very well, we certainly didn’t think this would happen when they went up 7-0, we came back to score 19 in the first half and put 40 on the board after the break. We had a rough idea before the last try that we were just about ahead of Derry but we went for broke to get the last to make sure of it. “We scored in the corner and Paddy O’Toole kicked the conversion to get us home.”

Ryan was convinced his side’s best shot at promotion was via the play-off route.

“A while back, we wouldn’t have thought this possible, we were in the mix but Derry were well in control of this division before they lost a few games. It was a big disappointment when we controversially lost at home to Greystones a few weeks ago, and I figured we might just have left Derry off the hook when we were beaten by Sunday’s Well. That was the only game this season we failed to score a try - and they probably wanted it a bit more. But we are where we are, we’ve got promotion and we’re also involved in the Munster Plate final against Cashel, so it has been a pretty good year by any standards.

“Winning promotion two years in a row, and doing so by actually winning the league, is a pretty special achievement and we’re looking forward to competing in Division 2A.

“I would be confident of doing well; this is not just on the basis of having a strong match-day squad, it’s more than that. We had 35 guys training at senior level last week and more at different levels below. Overall there’s a great buzz in the club.”

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