AIL RUGBY: Dungannon’s top four hopes over despite victory

Dungannon's Seamus Mallon.
Dungannon's Seamus Mallon.

All Ireland League Division 2B

Dungannon 40, Skerries 26

Dungannon registered an impressive bonus point victory over struggling Skerries at Stevenson Park on Saturday but it wasn’t enough to keep their top four aspirations alive.

A rash of injuries and near misses added to a frustrating afternoon for both teams and while Gannon posted six of the 10 tries, Old Crescent’s victory over Barnhall ended any hopes of a top four finish.

Dungannon were into their stride from the outset as a Seamus Mallon break led to a James McMahon try on 6 minutes.

Gannon extended their lead on 14 minutes when dual status player, Eugene McKenna, forced his way over following a succession of scrums. Armstrong converted for a 12-0 advantage.

Andrew McGregor and Armstrong featured in the move that led to a Mallon try and, even though Armstrong tagged on the extras, they were about to lose their shape.

The withdrawal of Armstrong and Mallon to injury offered Skerries a way back and they duly responded with successive tries. Hooker Chris Tonge powered over on 36 minutes and, Paul Devitt steamed through a gap to dot down three minutes later. Tom O’Hare goaled both conversions leaving ‘Gannon with the final say of half.

Following a number of infringements on their line Gannon grabbed the bonus point when referee Shane Kierans yellow carded prop Mark Nally and awarded a penalty try that Gerard Treanor converted for a 26-14 half time lead.

Minutes into the second half Barry Caldwell spilled possession with the try line at his mercy but Treanor then converted his own try score on 52 minutes following a deft chip by fullback McGregor.

Rodney Bennett touched down to complete a period of strong pressure on 67 minutes with Jack Ravey supplying the extras for a 40-14 lead.

Skerries though rallied as Tonge scored his second try. The Dubliners then rescued a priceless bonus deep in stoppage time through skipper Ross McAuley that leaves them with all to play for in a relegation winner-takes-all clash against City of Derry next weekend.