Connemara dent Rainey promotion hopes

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Rainey OB 12

Connemara 27

CONNEMARA put a major dent in Rainey’s aspirations of a high finish in Division 2 B when they beat the Old Boys 27-12 at Hatrick Park.

The Blacks were good value for their victory and the performance left coach Chris Campbell furious at the lack of hunger and passion shown by the Magherafelt side.

“We simply didn’t turn up on Saturday. Connemara wanted the win more and they deservedly got it. We need to pick ourselves up and lift the intensity in training and in matches.”

This was the Hatrick Park sides first AIL league game since early December when they defeated Sligo. Campbell admitted that the lengthy break has been far from ideal.

“It was an awfully long break and we lost the momentum which we had built up prior to the break. We did play Ulster League and friendlies but the lads simply can’t get motivated for them. The All Ireland League is what really matters to them.”

“Realistically we can’t afford another loss if we have any aspirations of promotion. We will pick ourselves up and prepare ourselves for the Armagh match on Saturday.”

It seemed to be just one of those days for Rainey. Decisions went against them and the bounce of the ball was not in their favour. Nonetheless the Clifden side were worthy winners on the day.

The game was over as a contest long before the end with Rainey losing scrum-half Sciascia with a nasty hand injury and replacement hooker Donaghy sin-binned for reckless use of the boot soon after coming on.

Rainey were hit by the late withdrawal of centre McMurray and when they made two unforced errors in the first minute, the visitors made the most of their luck. From a scrum in midfield, they moved it wide and then back infield to score at the posts. Montgomery gave the home crowd something to shout about when he broke down the left and play was switched to the other wing where Clarke was slowed down by a vital ankle tap tackle, but Martin then missed a penalty.

His counterpart Joyce then did likewise, but made it 10-0 minutes later when Boyle joined a ruck from the side. Referee Kevin Beggs failed to apply the advantage law with Rainey going forward and awarded a penalty which was missed.

Even at that stage, it was looking like being one of those days. Connemara went close when Rainey spilled the ball just outside their 22’ and they continued to test the Rainey rearguard until a turnover allowed Martin to launch a high clearance. Wing Campbell was impeded as he challenged for this loose ball and Connemara were penalised a further ten metres for dissent. A kick to the corner gave Rainey the opportunity to work a catch and drive which resulted in a try for prop O’Kane.Martin converted.

Connemara missed a long range kick before Rainey ended the half in style. Taking a quick penalty just inside their own half, McBride and Boyle made ground down the right where Sufferin did well to keep the move alive. The pack took it on towards the line where O’Kane drove over to leave them 12-10 up.

Considering Connemara’s dominance, it was an amazing half-time scoreline.

Three minutes into the second period, a wicked bounce proved too much for Rainey full-back Paul and Connemara took full advantage. Rainey had plenty of possession and territory, but lacked a cutting edge as a magnificent Connemara defence swallowed up everything that was thrown at them.

A knock-on at the tail of a lineout was not spotted and it allowed Connemara to go forward and pick up their third try with a marvellous offload. A drop goal from Joyce left Rainey with little hope of snatching a losing bonus point and coach Peter Bracken’s team confidently dealt with the drives of the Rainey back-row and the counter attacking of Paul.

The final minutes were played out in the visitors’ 22’ as Rainey had scrums, lineouts and penalties from which to attack, but a held up decision was as close as they came.

Team : R.Paul, A.Campbell, J.McBride, W.Montgomery, A.Clarke, G.Martin, P.Sciascia, S.Mc Dowell, S.Suferin, N.O’Kane, P.Boyle, N.Rankin, P.Heaney, M.Shiels, S.Hawe.

Replacements : D.Dawson (Rankin 40) R.Hall (O’Kane 49) P.Wilson (Sciascia 53) K.Donaghy (Sufferin 70)

Two intercept tries proved to be the deciding factor when Banbridge 2nd XV defeated Rainey O.B. 2nd XV in the Towns’ Cup at Rifle Park. Rainey gave a good account of themselves and were in the game with a real chance for a long time.

Banbridge’s big forwards did their bit to produce a pushover try after fifteen minutes, but Rainey still managed to secure enough ball to cause Banbridge problems out wide.

However, Banbridge extended their lead when McClelland had a pass snapped up by a grateful opponent just before the interval.

Devlin reduced the deficit with a penalty and Rainey dictated for a long spell, but Banbridge absorbed the pressure to score on the break midway through the half. Back came Rainey again, but Irvine had a pass intercepted by the player who had hurt them earlier.

McGuckin scored a late consolation try, with Heaney adding the points.

Rainey O.B. 4th XV made the near six hour round journey to North-West Donegal for their fixture with newcomers Tir Chonaill in the Butler Shield. The enthusiastic Gweedore side battled well throughout, but the Rainey pack operated better as a unit to give their dangerous backs the platform to show off their skills. A 24-3 victory takes them into the last eight of the competition.

With Rainey taking some time to find their feet, Tir Chonaill dominated the opening exchanges and kicked a penalty. Rainey eventually got going for tries from centre McBride and flanker Hepburn and a conversion by Walker to give them a 12-3 half-time lead.

Rainey lost their focus for a spell in the scenic landscape before McBride struck again to deliver the telling blow and second-row McCabe got his name on the scoresheet with Walker adding the points.

Fixtures for February 4th

1st XV v Armagh - AIL (H) @ 2.30pm

3rd XV v Holywood 2nd XV - Forster Cup (A)