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Garryowen and Bohs will meet in play-off decider

(Pictured, silence in Dooradoyle in memory of the late former Garryowen FC president, Christy Barry)
By Pat Reidy
LEADING by a single point at half time, Garryowen pulled away strongly in the second period to eventually beat Old Wesley RFC by 41 points to 19 in their home Ulster Bank All Ireland League Division 1A/1B promotion/relegation play-off semi final last Sunday afternoon. The prize for the winners is a play-off decider at the same venue on Saturday next with local rivals UL Bohemian RFC, a tie that should attract a decent attendance as last Sunday’s clash did.
Old Wesley may have shaded territory and possession in a rather tentative first half of play as Garryowen were forced to defend stoutly at times which they did to great effect against an energetic Dublin side who went “wide” often. A five try success did not seem on the cards at the short whistle but Garryowen totally outclassed the 1B outfit in the second half,scoring some great tries along the way. The “light blues” were inventive and sure footed during the second 40 minutes and only late in the game did Wesley’ notch a brace of tries with the homesters reduced to 14 players.
With just five minutes play elapsed in the first moiety, the sides had traded penalties, three minutes later Old Wesley had kicked another to lead 3-6. Within a minute Garryowen had netted their first seven pointer, Neil Cronin parted to Dara Shanahan who had emerged powerfully from a ruck and charged onward ball in hand, team captain Cronin had sprinted on in support and took the offload from Shanahan to touch down under the posts, adding the conversion himself,10-6 to Garryowen.
The home side faded out of the game somewhat subsequently and credit to the Donnybrook men for forcing them to retreat, but the home side’s line was not breached as solid group defence was effected across the line. The only concession was a penalty three minutes prior to the half time break that left Garryowen leading by 10-9 at the short whistle.
An early second half penalty from Neil Cronin pushed that out to 13-9. Garryowen enjoyed a most rewarding quarter hour from the 52nd minute mark, accumulating twenty one unanswered points to effectively kill off the Wesley’ challenge. The in form Hugh O’Brien Cunningham kickstarted that golden spell, with a super 25 metre break from about half way, parted to the onrushing Bailey Faloon who sped in from the 22’. Cronins conversion made it 20-9 to Garryowen. Seven minutes later the winners were attacking up the right on the visitors 22’, Sean O’Connor received the ball in the right wing position and he powered his way up the line, curved around and in near the posts, Neil Cronins conversion had Garryowen ahead 27-9. Twelve minutes to play the games was up for Wesley whose backline move on halfway was intercepted by Hugh O’Brien Cunningham who raced in under the posts to touch down, Neil Cronin’s fourth conversion saw the scoreboard click to 34-9 and the game was won. The vanquished side notched a pair of unconverted tries on 74 and 79 minutes respectively with Garryowen visibly easing up.
However, the home side finished the game out in style. Neil Cronin won a turnover just inside his teams 22’, he found Steve McMahon in support, Mc Mahon bobbed, weaved and sprinted 80 metres for a sensational try to conclude an emphatic win and a great confidence boost facing into next week’s final with UL Bohemian RFC. Cronin added a fifth conversion to round off the 41-19 success.
UL Bohemians will also bring plenty of confidence to the table for the clash having succeeded in overcoming Naas RFC in Kildare on Sunday last.
A local derby then to decide who plays in Division 1A next season and one to look forward to. Kick-off in Dooradoyle next Saturday is 2.30pm.
Garryowen lined out as follows: 15. Liam Coombes 14. Steve Mc Mahon 13. Hugh O’Brien Cunningham 12. Dave Mc Carthy 11. Peader Collins 10. Andrew O’Byrne 9. Neil Cronin {captain}; 1. Niall Horan 2. Diarmuid Barron 3. J.P. Phelan 4. Sean O’Connor 5. Bara O’Byrne 6. Dara Shanahan 7. Mikey Wilson 8. Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: 16. Eamonn Costelloe 17. Mike O’Donnell 18. Johnathon Keane 19. Sam Gleeson 20. Ronan O’Halloran 21. Tim Ferguson 22. Jamie Heuston.
Referee: Kieran Barry, IRFU.
Editor:Interestingly, a third of the Wesley team were former Limerick club players in Dooradoyle last Saturday with David and Mark Rowley, James Burton, Ger Finucane and Darren Horan all playing their part

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