Connemara blew the All Ireland League Ulster Bank Division 2B table wide open with its impressive 27-12 victory over Rainey Old Boys on Hatrick Park on Saturday last.

Four table points separated fifth from second following that result – a shock result to say the least given second-placed Rainey was heavily-favoured to beat sixth-placed Connemara.

Due to wet conditions onlookers expected expansion to be at a premium, such was not the case however, Connemara opening its ledger four minutes in with a champagne start. Wing David McDonagh met out-half Sean Joyce’s pass on the inside channel a yard from the Rainey 22, and the Roundstone Express picked a great line to bust over in the tackle. Joyce added the extras shortly after.

Rainey responded within minutes and but for a desperate tackle from Connemara 15 Alan Keogh would have likely levelled the scoreline.

Despite Rainey’s prolonged resurgence Connemara struck next. The Rainey front row infringed for standing up in the scrum and Joyce once more gave scorers cause for activity, Connemara 10-nil. Stout Connemara defence scuppered much of Rainey’s promise, the Northerners equally adept at flair football in spite of the weather.

Concerted pressure finally paid dividends as burly prop Neil O’Kane bludgeoned his way over the Connemara goal-line from close-quarters, 7-10 down.

Under pressure from a Rainey grubber, Connemara fullback Alan Keogh fell afoul of the referee in tripping his opposite; and Kevin Biggs on whistle duty obliged him with a yellow. Backed now by a numerical advantage Rainey gained momentum and a slick reverse pass from Austalian scrumhalf Sciascia found Rainey second-rower Boyle who lumbered over for their second try. The conversion went astray, but Rainey led nonetheless 12-10 at halftime.

Connemara opened the second half with a full allocation but despite Keogh’s return, Rainey maintained their momentum and camped deep in Connemara’s half for the first quarter. Dogged black defence strove to limit further scores flanker Barry Gibbons one of the standout tacklers.

Keogh again featured with another marauding run and employed a skidding grubber to beat the last line of Rainey defence. A well-timed ricochet sent the pill squirting out toward Connemara 13 Paddy Madden following up on his fullback’s initiative and hacked it clear over the fullback’s head, collected it and scarpered under the bar for Connemara’s second of the day. Joyce added two more.

Joyce added another three to his (and Connemara’s) tally by way of a dropgoal (20-12). But it was Keogh engineered the final say deftly popping a ball through his legs to Richard Bourke who made short work of the empty space between he and the Rainey line for seven more.

It was a great win for the Connemara Blacks, and accomplished in trying conditions but in a manner more often found on sun-drenched, hard and fast tracks.

(contributed – Matt O’Sullivan)

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