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Donnacha Ryan's excellent footballing skills and all the exiles' action

Ian Madigan and Bristol march on towards promotion into the Premiership.

WHILE THERE WAS no Guinness Pro14 or Aviva Premiership action this weekend, there were still several Irishmen in action in France and England.

Here, we round up the Irish involvement in the Top 14, Anglo-Welsh Cup, Pro D2 and Championship in recent days.

Top 14

Montpellier’s win over Clermont yesterday saw them remain at the top of the French league, but Racing 92 and La Rochelle are keeping the heat on them, with both clubs just a point behind.

Racing had a hard-fought 18-13 win away to fourth-placed Castres on Saturday, with Donnacha Ryan instrumental as his fine form continued.

While the former Ireland and Munster lock provided his usual level of work rate and impact in the tight exchanges, his footballing skills also shone as Ryan provided a delicate kick ahead for wing Juan Imhoff to run onto for a crucial first-half try.

Ryan

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Ryan will not be involved in the Six Nations with Ireland, but the 34-year-old has shown his class for Racing since recovering from a neck injury that ruined the first few months of his time with the French club.

Meanwhile, former Munster tighthead Dave Ryan was part of an Agen squad that suffered a 71-17 defeat away to Lyon, conceding 10 tries in the process.

Agen remain 13th in the Top 14 and though they are just a point behind 12th-placed Brive, they will need to produce far better performances than they did on Saturday if they are to remain in the top flight next season.

There was a better outcome for Pau and their openside Sean Dougall, another former Munster player, on Sunday as they convincingly beat Stade Français 40-5 away from home.

Dougall was making his 13th start of the season for Simon Mannix’s side, who moved up to eighth in the table with this victory. Dave Foley and Paddy Butler are currently on Pau’s injury list, but both are nearing a return to action.

Sean Dougall Dougall has been a key man for Pau. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Bottom club Oyonnax, for whom Mike Prendergast is attack coach, lost 37-15 away to Toulouse, while Bordeaux, who employ Jeremy Davidson as their forwards coach, were beaten 36-12 on the road against Toulon.

Pro D2

Ex-Munster academy man Steven McMahon was at fullback for Carcassonne on Friday night as they secured a 24-13 win over Soyaux-Angouleme that moves them off the bottom of the Pro D2.

Former Dungarvan RFC man McMahon made his 13th appearance of the season for Carcassonne, having also played on the wing since his move to France.

John Madigan, the imposing former Munster lock, was in the second row for Massy as they lost 27-17 to Dax.

23-year-old Madigan is enjoying a fine season, with 15 starts and a further three appearances off the bench, and is understood to have recently signed a two-year extension to his contract with Massy.

Greene King IPA Championship

Bristol’s dominant season in England’s second tier continued with an 18-13 victory over a solid Bedford Blues side yesterday.

The victory means Pat Lam’s men have won all 14 of their 14 games this season, securing 12 bonus points in the process.

Ian Madigan Madigan and Bristol are set for the Premiership next season. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Top scorer Ian Madigan kicked two penalties and a conversion against Bedford as his strong season continued, former Leinster and Connacht man Jason Harris-Wright was at hooker, and ex-Ireland U20 lock Joe Joyce - a product of the Exiles system – was in Bristol’s second row.

With no play-offs in the Championship this year, Bristol should soon be able to confirm their promotion to the Premiership next season.

Second-placed Ealing Trailfinders maintained their own strong season on Saturday with a 25-3 win away to London Scottish.

Ex-Stade Français fullback Peter Lydon was in Ealing’s 15 shirt again, his 10th start of the campaign, while former Ireland U19 international back Piers O’Conor was among the replacements.

Ex-Ireland U20s back Charlie Ingall was on the wing for the beaten London Scottish team.

Former Ulster hooker Johnny Murphy started for Rotherham Titans as the bottom side won for the first time this season, a 27-24 victory over the Cornish Pirates, who included former Ireland U20 wing Alex O’Meara on their bench.

Jersey enjoyed a 10-9 success against Richmond, with Jerry SextonConor Joyce and Mark Best all starting.

Dave Johnston tackles Mark Best Ex-Ulster man Mark Best was in action for Jersey. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Sexton – the younger brother of Ireland out-half Johnny – has had a good season since joining from London Irish, starting every league game so far, while former Ulster men Joyce and Best have also been key players for sixth-placed Jersey.

Ex-Ulster prop Craig Trenier was among the replacements for the defeated Richmond.

Ian Costello‘s Nottingham had a bad day at the office yesterday as they lost 27-6 at home to Doncaster.

Their ex-Munster contingent of fullback Sean Scanlon, inside centre Gearoid Lyons, tighthead Rory Burke, openside flanker Jordan Coghlan and number eight Shane Buckley, as well as former Connacht lock Danny Qualter, all started the defeat.

On the winning Doncaster side, former Ulster scrum-half Michael Heaney started again, while ex-Munster out-half Declan Cusack was used off the bench.

Anglo-Welsh Cup

Former Ulster loosehead prop Paddy McAllister came off the bench for Gloucester in a 43-20 win over the Ospreys on Friday night, his eighth appearance of the season in all competitions.

Ex-Munster and Ireland second row Donncha O’Callaghan, who will retire at the end of the season, was captain in Worcester’s 31-21 victory over Exeter on Saturday.

inpho_01175218 Tadhg McElroy played for Saracens. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Former Leinster second row Mark Flanagan, who had a loan spell at Munster this season, started for Mark McCall‘s Saracens in a 40-21 win over Bernard Jackman‘s Dragons.

Former Ireland U20s hooker Tadgh McElroy made his second appearance of the season for Saracens as a replacement.

Ex-Leinster man Brendan Macken was at outside centre for Wasps on a tough day as they were beaten 66-7 by London Irish.

Campionato di Eccellenza 

Ireland 7s international and former Connacht ‘A’ man Ed O’Keefe was part of the Viadana squad that beat Lazio 32-6.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Murray Kinsella

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