Match Centre - October 19, 2019 - 4:00 pm

All Ireland League 

Malone RFC
Banbridge RFCBanbridge RFC 1sts XV

@ Malone - Gibson Park

Match Details


A third straight defeat in as many games saw Banbridge drop down to the bottom of Division 1B of the Energia All-Ireland League.
Given that both Bann and Malone, their opposition on Saturday, had both lost their opening two games, it was perhaps inevitable that one or other would occupy that unenviable position after Saturday’s encounter.
But Bann Coach Mark McDowell was still striking a positive note despite this latest setback. “The lack of ruthlessness cost us at key times,” he admitted after the game. “We had instances again where we showed some real intent to do what we set out to do. Unfortunately the problem over the first three games is that we’ve not done it consistently enough over the entire 80 minutes.
“Defensively today we made a number of errors that we’d been working really hard to correct but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that yet. But I can’t fault effort levels, can’t fault desire, can’t fault commitment. But we made similar mistakes across the first two games that we’re going to have to work hard to rectify before the Shannon game.
“But the squad and the coaching team very much believe in what we’re doing and we believe that when it does click that we’ll really start to roll.”
Both sides came into the game reinforced by releases from the Ulster camp, with the Belfast side strengthened by two Contracted (Angus Curtis and Andy Warwick), one Development (Angus Kernohan) and three Academy (Joe Dunleavey, Azur Allison And Matthew Agnew) players. Bann were beefed up by the inclusion in their ranks of forwards Callum Reid, Dave O’Connor and scrum-half Jonny Stewart.
And it was Kernohan who got Malone up and running, his 10th minute try augmented by Callum Smith’s conversion. Bann hit back 10 minutes later, Stephen Irvine’s burst off the base of a ruck on the home “22” taking play to near the try line where scrum-half Neil Kilpatrick collected his No 8’s pop-up pass to touch down, with Bann’s latest AIL centurion, Adam Doherty, adding the extras from the touchline.
What McDowell called a “kick-off mis-hap” allowed Malone to retake the lead within minutes. Malone winger Michael Cartmill caught the re-start drop-out and that set his side up with a ruck close to the Bann line from which home skipper Ross Todd forced his way over, with Smith again converting.
Doherty’s penalty brought the score to 14-10 but soon after lock Ryan Clarke burst through a frail front-line Bann defence to set up an attack which was finished off by hooker Scott Finlay, with Smith’s unerring boot adding the extras.
But by the interval Bann were right back in it. Right winger Conor Field made the initial breakthrough, linking with Robin Sinton who, when tackled short, managed to off-load to Kilpatrick who scampered over for his second try. Doherty’s second conversion, again from the touchline, split the posts.
So Bann went into the break just four points in arrears but McDowell said it was a disappointing scoreline. “At half-time I felt that we had given two tries away and put ourselves in a position of difficulty when we should have been coming in feeling quite pleased with how we’d been doing.
“We started the second half quite brightly and got really good opportunities in their “22” but weren’t just quick enough to react to them or clinical enough to finish them off. That was the turning point in the game. We then started to chase it a little and Malone’s power game, especially with some of the players that had been released to them by Ulster, really started to make a difference for them.”
Smith’s penalty on 65 minutes was followed by Kernohan’s second try three minutes later, with Smith’s conversion and a second penalty three minutes from the end sealing the win which Malone will be hoping kick-starts their season.
Despite the defeat McDowell was well pleased with the performances of his Ulster players. “I thought (lock) Dave O’Connor in his first game for the club was absolutely outstanding. His work around the contact area was brilliant. He was physical, he seems like a great young man as well and he’ll fit really well into the squad.
“It was great to see (prop) Callum Reid get 80 minutes. It’s exciting to see how he’s going to go for us this season. Hopefully he can push himself further up the Ulster queue as well for his own benefit. And I thought when Jonny Stewart came on he added another dimension to our play as well.
“We were pleased with the contribution of all three releases. They are guys who are all going to be key for us at different points in the season but the important thing is that they all fit well into the ethos and culture of the existing squad. They add those little levels of quality that drive everyone else on around them.”
Bann have no game this weekend with Shannon next up at Rifle Park on 2nd November. “The lads are really looking forward to that. We have two home games in the next block of three so those are going to be big occasions for us and the guys will be chomping at the bit to get prepared for Shannon.”
Bann team v Malone:- Adam Doherty, Conor Field, Andrew Morrison, Jonny Little, Hugo Harbinson, Josh Cromie, Neil Kilpatrick, Callum Reid, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie (Capt), Matthew Laird, Dave O’Connor, Robin Sinton, Ryan Hughes, Stephen Irvine. Replacements:- Tim Savage, Ross Haughey, Dale Carson, Jonny Stewart, Joe Finnegan.