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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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Lansdowne reach first Bateman final in 87 years while Con stay on course for six-in-a-row

Sligo and City of Armagh put up huge fights but in the end it was the Division 1A sides who prevailed in the last four.

Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

SLIGO 15
LANSDOWNE 34

Hamilton Park

There was no fairytale result for Division 2C leaders Sligo as Lansdowne broke clear of them in the second half to record a 34-15 Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final win in Strandhill on Saturday afternoon.

Lansdowne will contest their first final of the historic All-Ireland competition since the headquarters club last lifted the trophy in 1931, with defending Bateman Cup champions Cork Constitution providing the opposition over the weekend of 21-22 April.

It will be an all-Division 1A decider, but Sligo were still very much still in the hunt when trailing 14-8 at half-time. Fullback Jack Keegan opened their account with a third-minute penalty, which whetted the big crowd’s appetite at Hamilton Park.

Despite the hosts protesting that Lansdowne loosehead Greg McGrath was boring in, the visitors forced a penalty try from scrum pressure, before Sligo edged ahead on the 20-minute mark when they injected pace through their backs and centre Mark Rooney scored in the corner.

Keegan, who had missed an earlier penalty, was off target with the difficult conversion and Lansdowne replied with a timely 36th-minute try. A well-executed lineout maul saw their Connacht-capped hooker Jack Dinneen touch down with Scott Deasy converting for a 14-8 lead.

The sides swiftly swapped tries on the resumption as this entertaining contest continued to ebb and flow. From a poor Sligo exit, Lansdowne winger Daniel McEvoy ran back a kick at searing pace, jinking in and out to break clear and score a brilliant try by the posts.

Scott Deasy, Willie Earle and Charlie Butterworth celebrate after the game Scott Deasy, Willie Earle and Charlie Butterworth starred for the Division 1A outfit Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Despite losing lock Ciaran Cassidy to the sin-bin for taking a player out from the restart, 14-man Sligo dug their heels in and a fine move finished off by winger Philip Carter kept their hopes alive at 21-15 down.

Lansdowne went for the corner from penalties but the recent Connacht Senior Cup champions defiantly held out, and out-half Deasy was soon called upon to go for the posts and give the visitors a nine-point cushion.

Mike Ruddock’s men have been a class apart in the Ulster Bank League’s top flight so far this season and their strength in depth, including some strong-carrying forwards on the bench, allowed them to seal the result with two late unconverted tries from Charlie Butterworth and Harry Brennan.

SLIGO: Jack Keegan; Calum Goddard, Mark Rooney, Mike Wells, Philip Carter; Mark Butler, Gary O’Hehir; Kuba Wojtkowicz, Shane O’Hehir, Conor Mitchell, Ciaran Cassidy, James Wilson, Shane Boyle (capt), Matt Davey, Matthew Cosgrove.

Replacements: Ross O’Boyle, Mark Keegan, Shane McGuinness, David Cawley, David Heath, Christian Neilsen, Niall Gray, Enda Gavin.

LANSDOWNE: Willie Walsh; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe, Tom Roche; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Greg McGrath, Jack Dinneen, Ian Prendiville (capt), Jack O’Sullivan, Conall O’Brien, Willie Earle, Aaron Conneely, Charlie Butterworth.

Replacements: JJ Earle, Adam Boland, Ntinga Mpiko, Collie Joyce-Ahearne, Gareth Molloy, Conor Murphy, Peter Hastie.

Scorers

Sligo

Tries: Mark Rooney, Philip Carter
Cons: Jack Keegan
Pens: Jack Keegan

Lansdowne

Tries: Penalty try, Jack Dinneen, Daniel McEvoy, Charlie Butterworth, Harry Brennan
Cons: Pen try con, Scott Deasy (2)
Pens: Scott Deasy

Scott Deasy kicks a conversion Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

CITY OF ARMAGH 13
CORK CONSTITUTION 20

Palace Grounds

Number eight Luke Cahill touched down twice as Cork Constitution overcame a spirited challenge from Division 2A outfit City of Armagh on Saturday to move within 80 minutes of winning their sixth Ulster Bank Bateman Cup title on the spin.

A pulsating performance from hosts Armagh was not enough to derail Con whose winning streak in this All-Ireland competition now stands at 11 matches, stretching back to the 2013 semi-finals.

The Palace Grounds crowd witnessed an exciting semi-final clash and the gap of two Ulster Bank League divisions between the sides was not evident for much of it.

Con, who recently lost their Munster Senior Cup crown in a semi-final defeat to Garryowen, exerted the early pressure and opened the scoring with a 12th minute penalty from out-half Aidan Moynihan.

Five minutes later, Armagh stunned the title holders when their full-back Tim McNiece took advantage of a defensive error to squeeze over for a try at the corner flag, making it 5-3.

Moynihan fired over his second successful penalty in the 25th minute, but Armagh were rewarded for some enterprising play when winger Robbie Faloon claimed a second unconverted try for the Ulstermen, five minutes before half-time. Unfortunately for the vocal home support, Con wrestled their way back into the lead just before half-time when Cahill crossed from a late catch-and-drive effort.

Moynihan’s conversion gave Brian Hickey’s charges a three-point buffer – 13-10 – and they struck again soon after the restart when the classy Cahill broke through the Armagh defence and raced in from 30 metres out for a crucial 43rd-minute try. Moynihan added the extras and the Bateman Cup kingpins now looked comfortable with a ten-point cushion.

Luke Cahill celebrates at the final whistle Luke Cahill dotted down twice for Con. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Willie Faloon’s men tried their best to reduce the margin but the Cork Con defence gave very little away. Armagh out-half Cormac Fox reduced the arrears with a penalty in the 57th minute. The excitement built for a grandstand finish with only a converted score between the sides.

However, despite Armagh pressing and building through the phases, Constitution’s sterling defence won them the game and another shot at Bateman Cup history in the spring when they will play current Division 1A leaders Lansdowne, who have won all 11 of their league fixtures so far.

CITY OF ARMAGH: Tim McNiece; Ryan Purvis, Chris Colvin (capt), Johnny Pollock, Robbie Faloon; Cormac Fox, Harry Doyle; Daryl Morton, Andrew Smyth, Philip Fletcher, Josh McKinley, Robert Whitten, James Morton, Stuart Hooks, Neil Faloon.

Replacements: Michael Hoey, Simon Carlisle, James Hanna, William Martin, Thomas Campbell, Chris Cousins, Evin Crummie.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Joe White; Liam O’Connell, Michael Clune, Ned Hodson, Rob Jermyn; Aidan Moynihan, Gerry Hurley (capt); Gavin Duffy, Vincent O’Brien, Ger Sweeney, Brian Hayes, Sean Duffy, Joe McSwiney, Ross O’Neill, Luke Cahill.

Replacements: Max Abbott, Brendan Quinlan, Dylan Murphy, Conor Kindregan, Sonny Dwyer, Gary Bradley, Barry Galvin.

Scorers

City of Armagh

Tries: Robbie Faloon, Tim McNiece
Pens: Cormac Fox

Cork Constitution

Tries: Luke Cahill (2)
Cons: Aidan Moynihan (2)
Pens: Aidan Moynihan (2)

ULSTER BANK LEAGUE

DIVISION 2B:

Belfast Harlequins 18 Wanderers 22, Deramore Park
Rainey Old Boys 15 Sunday’s Well 8, Hatrick Park

DIVISION 2C:

Thomond 10 Bruff 11, Liam Fitzgerald Park (played on Friday)

O’Halloran wonder try seals draw at Sixways and a quarter-final slot for Connacht

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