Champions Rainey finish perfect season with undefeated record

Having already captured the Division 2B title, it was no surprise that Rainey Old Boys failed to turn it on against relegation threatened Clonakilty at Hatrick Park on Saturday.

The Magherafelt men barely got out of first gear but managed to do enough in the third quarter to put the issue beyond doubt.

As the weather deteriorated, most of the spectators had moved indoors long before the end, missing a late Clonakilty consolation try.

Rainey’s five tries took their tally to 59 tries, scoring 456 points altogether with only 167 against them.

Barnhall held onto second place despite losing 29-6 at Nenagh. Naas, who hammered Instonians 55-0, finished level on points with Barnhall, but have to settle for the play-off spot.

Clonakilty will entertain Richmond, who defeated visitors Portadown 15-5 in a key round-robin fixture.

But for Rainey it is onwards and upwards into Divison 2A next season.

They committed a succession of unforced errors in a low-key first half against the men from Co. Cork, starting with allowing the kick-off to roll into touch at the corner.

After five minutes, a midfield mistake from Clonakilty gifted possession to Rainey who made the most of it with scrum-half Simpson going in for a try which O’Connor converted.

Clonakilty were soon on terms as Rainey struggled to control lineout ball when put into good field positions and conceded penalty upon penalty. Clonakilty hit an upright as lapses in concentration prevented Rainey from getting started. A yellow card for Barker added to their problems.

Too many of the Rainey pack were going through the motions as Clonakilty moved 10-7 ahead and dominated territory. On half time, Clonakilty failed to deal with a high kick from Martin and Rainey flanker Burns seized the loose ball to create a half chance, but there was no support on his outside - it was that sort of game.

Two minutes after the break, Simpson sparked a flurry of scoring when he started and finished off a move involving McMurray and Campbell down the right. O’Connor converted.

Simpson, easily Rainey’s most influential player on the day, made a great break with the forwards patiently going through the phases before Campbell joined in to dot down in the left corner. Again O’Connor converted with a great kick.

As the rain came in, long-serving second-row Peter Boyle marked his last game for the club with a try from a catch and drive. The best score of the day came after 65 minutes when Simpson burst clear of his 22’ for O’Kane and then McGowan to stride away down the wing.

Barker arrived in support to brush off a challenge and run in from forty yards for his first try for the club and O’Connor completed the scoring with another excellent conversion.

Rainey Old Boys: M. O’Connor, A. Campbell, D. McMurray, J. McMurray, A. Clarke, G. Martin, S. Simpson, S. Rutledge, S. Sufferin, N. O’Kane, P. Boyle, T. Barker, T. Burns, M. Shiels, D. Dawson. Subs: R. Hall, P. McGowan, K. Donaghy, A. Donaghy

Rainey may have had plenty to spare in the end, but there were many moments throughtout the AIL Division 2B programme to stretch the nerves.

A number of new faces had to be brought in and it was sometime before they were all available.

To beat Nenagh for the first time ever was a good morale booster and to narrowly defeat Barnhall after losing three men in the opening quarter was another great result for the club. The Kildare club’s high scoring exploits were always likely to make them real contenders.

To lose Alan McCluggage with a knee injury was a big blow to the club but Stuart Simpson’s versatility was a real bonus. Michael Pyper was brought in at times and his quality shone through despite a lack of match practice.

The character of the squad helped them to eke out bouns points with dramatic late tries at Instonians and Suttonians, and they came from 19-5 down to snatch a draw at Naas as well as surviving a late scare at Navan. With the Leinster teams in hot pursuit, these points were essential at the end of the season.

Simon Hawe came out of retirement to help out in mid season when Conor O’Neill joined the injured list while the versatility of Shiels, Boyle and Dawson proved very useful.

Coaches Chris Campbell, Richard Boyd and Dylan Davies must be congratulated for their input over the last number of seasons. The squad has always been meticulously prepared with Neil O’Kane an inspirational skipper. Team doctor Paul Flanigan had a busy time but it was worth it in the end.

In the Ulster Carpets Cup ties, Rainey Rhinos enjoyed mixed fortunes. The U17s lost 22-12 at Dromore but the U13s won 25-0 at the same venue and will play Virginia (8-7 winners over Armagh) at Ravenhill on May 4.

The Club AGM will take place on Thursday, April 25 at 8pm while the Club dinner is on May 3. There will also be a table quiz on May 17.