Garryowen edge UL Bohemians for 1A place while Crescent miss out in Armagh.
Garryowen emerged victorious in the 1A playoff over local rivals UL Bohemians yesterday on an 18-13 scoreline.
The win secures the light blues’ top flight status for next season while for Bohs, it was very much a case of what might have been. The robins simply gave themselves too much work to do and ultimately came up just short.
Meanwhile, up north in Armagh, Old Crescent missed out on a spot in 2A next season following a 21-10 playoff defeat at the hands of Armagh at the Palace Grounds.
The defeat although a bitter bill to swallow will be tempered by their 3rds securing the Webb Cup over the weekend by beating Garryowen 3rds in the final.
In the 1A playoff, Garryowen had to survive a Bohs onslaught in the final quarter before finally securing top flight rugby for next year.
Despite playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze in the opening half, the ‘Light Blues’ led their cross town rivals 8-3 at the end of a highly competitive opening period which was spoiled somewhat by the windy conditions.
The sides were level 3-3 after half an hour with Garryowen scrum-half Neil Cronin and UL-Bohs centre Rick McKenna trading penalties.
The decisive score of the half came on 32 minutes when Garryowen winger Steven McMahon sliced through the Bohs defence from half way to cross for a fine individual try with Neil Cronin’s conversion attempt ricochetting off the post.
For their part Bohs will not have been happy with their defence in the lead up to the opening score.
Place-kickers Cronin and McKenna swapped further penalties in the 42nd and 49th minutes as the home side enjoyed a useful 11-3 lead.
A two score lead was putting Bohs under pressure to respond but instead it was the home side who looked to have taken a decisive grip on the game in the 52nd minute when out half David Johnston was on the end of a Sam Arnold break to finish for a well taken try.
Cronin slotted the extras to make it 18-6 and put Garryowen in the driving seat.
It was do or die for Bohs now and winger Colin Ryan finally got their opening try in the 76th minute, which was converted by McKenna to ensure a nervy finish.
Despite being down to 13 players at one stage, Garryowen withstood the UL Bohs fightback to guarantee 1A rugby for Conan Doyle’s side next year.
For Christy Neilan and UL Bohs, this is very much a young talented panel with an awful lot to offer. Compared with last year if you had offered Bohs a promotion playoff spot they would certainly have taken it.
Expect to see them mount a serious challenge to get out of 1B again next year.
Meanwhile, Old Crescent were facing an uphill battle in their playoff final when trailing Armagh 3-11 at half-time in their play-off game at the Palace Grounds.
Crescent’s first half points came courtesy a Shane O’Brien penalty goal on 37 minutes.
However, a 55th minute try from Crescent’s Brendan Guilfoyle, converted by O’Brien, reduced the Ulster side’s advantage to 14-10.
However, crucially, Armagh replied with their second try of the game two minutes later to put the issue beyond their Limerick visitors.
This weekend brings the Ulster Bank League for all Limerick sides to an end but rest assured, the plans for next year are already in train.