Vital wins in AIL for Barnhall, Naas

While Ireland disappointingly slumped to an opening day 23-21 defeat to Wales at the Aviva Stadium in the RBS Six Nations most of the local clubs enjoyed the sweet smell of victory in their domestic pursuits, writes Dermot O’Mahoney

While Ireland disappointingly slumped to an opening day 23-21 defeat to Wales at the Aviva Stadium in the RBS Six Nations most of the local clubs enjoyed the sweet smell of victory in their domestic pursuits, writes Dermot O’Mahoney

NUIM Barnhall and Naas both won in the Ulster Bank League (AIL) Division 2B while there was Provincial Towns Cup success for Cill Dara and Edenderry, although the victory for the latter meant defeat for Athy.

NUIM Barnhall are now alone in third place following their 25-7 home win against Boyne and they trail Banbridge who are in the second automatic promotion place by four points.

No 8 Barry Dunne with a try, and a penalty goal from the boot of full back Simon Gillespie, had the home side 8-7 in front at half time having trailed early on to a breakaway try.

On top in most areas the Leixlip side pulled away on the resumption with Dunne adding another try while the third touchdown from a pushover scrum was a joint effort from flanker Tom McKeown and scrum half Robbie McGrath.

Naas travelled to Cork and returned from their encounter in Musgrave Park with a priceless 19-13 win over fellow strugglers Sunday’s Well.

In the dogfight to avoid relegation the Kildare club moved up a place to 13th, leap frogging their vanquished opponents in the process.

The next round of action is on Saturday week with NUIM Barnhall travelling to mid-table Navan while Naas welcome bottom club Wanderers to Forenaughts where a win would go a long way to securing the home club’s status in Division 2B for next season.

Cill Dara coughed up an early ten points at home to Portarlington in 1st round of the Provincial Towns Cup before going on to dominate in a 22-13 victory.

No 8 Eamon Hyland’s riposte try midway through the opening period was the catalyst for the Kildare town club’s revival and with centre Paddy Behan in top form with the boot the home side were never in danger once they got their noses in front early in the second half after trailing 13-10 at half time.

Cill Dara will now be away in the second round on 19th February to the winners of next weekend’s Longford v Mullingar clash.

Edenderry will also be in action in the second round following their 9-3 home win against Athy on Saturday.

After the concession of a first minute penalty goal the home side fought back to lead 6-3 at the interval with out half Adrian Smith landing a pair of penalty goals and it was full back Stevie Cummins who secured the win with a long range penalty goal in the second half.

Edenderry now await the winners of Roscrea and Co Carlow on Saturday with the Carbury side having to travel on 19th February while also on this Saturday is the remaining outstanding 1st round tie between Naas 2nd XV and Wexford Wanderers.

Ireland’s loss against Wales was most disappointing, not for the fact that there was an element of controversy about the winning score but more for the fact that they were unable to close out a 6-point advantage with less than ten minutes on the clock.

With seven minutes remaining Jonathan Sexton and Paul O’Connell went completely against the percentages and opted for a 55-metre penalty attempt when all logic would have decreed to knock it into touch in the Welsh 22 where a perfectly functioning Irish lineout would surely have snaffled it and given the home side a great shot at getting the insurance score.

Likewise when Ronan O’Gara kicked deep from the kick off with three minutes remaining the Irish defending failed to stop the Welsh advancing in torrents until they got the match winning penalty.

Paris on Saturday night (8:00) now beckons but the good news is that if they can pick themselves up and correct some of their errors they have a great chance of beating France as the quality of the Ireland v Wales game was way ahead of the other two games; Wales and Ireland look like the best two team in the Championship at this early stage.