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Malone dent City of Armagh’s top four hopes as key fixtures loom large

Armagh’s Full-Back Tim Mc Neice scored in the dying minutes of the game

Malone RFC 16 City of Armagh RFC 7

City of Armagh travelled to Gibson Park in Belfast on Saturday and came away with a disappointing defeat to dent the team’s ambition of a top four finish in Division 1B.

One can say that in reality Armagh didn’t play with any momentum until the last five minutes and by then it was too late.

Played in fairly perfect conditions, Armagh started off well but an early penalty attempt by Chris Cousens didn’t trouble the scoreboard. In fact this was the only penalty the visitors gained in the first half and they conceded 6 throughout the first 40 minutes.

As a result, they couldn’t gain any foothold in the game and they allowed Malone to take a lead which they never surrendered.

Mark O’Connor converted two penalties to put Malone 6 points ahead before slack defence allowed the Malone scrumhalf in behind the Armagh defence to put No 8 Ryan Clarke in for a score in the corner.

What then bemused most Armagh supporters was why the referee did not award Armagh with a penalty try when 3 attacking scrums went down on the Malone five metre line and eventually the referee gave Malone a let off when he gave the home side a free kick for an early push.

Half time arrived and City of Armagh were 11 points down.

The trend in the second half continued with Armagh having most of the territory but being unable to capitalise in any of their attacks. Their misfortune continued when an enterprising back line move enabled O’Connor to squeeze in at the corner to extend Malone’s lead to 16-0.

Armagh were now chasing the game and seemed to have got over for a try by Philip Fletcher midway through the second half only for the touch judge to flag for foul play against Daryl Morton.

The Armagh prop who had come off the bench, got 10 minutes in the sinbin and the opportunity was lost. Despite continuing to press, Armagh couldn’t break down a well organised home defence even though two Malone players were also in the bin on separate occasions.

Malone were able to slow the game down and despite the referee now giving Armagh penalties, the game was now lost.

Armagh did get a consolation try five minutes from the end by fullback, Timmy McNeice, converted excellently by Cormac Fox but it was too little too late. Armagh eventually raised the tempo of the game and Malone were defending for their lives.

Thirty seconds from the end Fox attempted to get a losing bonus point with a 40 metre penalty but it fell short and Armagh came home with nothing for their efforts.

Both the lineout and scrum worked well throughout the game but the rucking and cleanouts were not functioning at all and a clever Malone pack were able to slow the ball down by not rolling away and preventing scrum half Doyle from getting his back line away.

Johnny Morton also picked up a very nasty injury after 10 minutes and needed hospital treatment. So all in all it was a bad day at the office and the Armagh team now need to raise their game in the last two matches to avoid the dreaded
relegation play-off place.

Malone now go into the top three and a chance to finish in the promotion playoffs.

City of Armagh now have a week off to prepare for a crucial home match against Ballynahinch on April 6.

Armagh Seconds in comfortable win over Omagh

The seconds played Omagh seconds in a second xv league game on Friday night and after a competitive first 40 minutes they pulled clear in the second half to win comfortably. The game started with a lively Omagh eight showing their intentions straight from the kick off, putting in some crunching tackles and not giving the home forwards any time on the ball.

With Clarke, Jack Treanor and Lutton in the front row and Kennedy and Martin in the second, the scrums were steady giving Millar and Gerard Treanor the platform to move quick ball.

Working their way up field with the backs looking sharp, a penalty was quickly tapped with Stuart Lester crossing for an early try. Kyle Faloon converted and Armagh were up and running. Omagh replied with a penalty to peg the score back to 7-3. Faloon replied with a penalty of his own before Omagh took a scrum ball against the head and quick ball was touched
down in the corner for an unconverted try, 10-8 to Armagh.

With Nathan Rodgers playing at 10, Matthew Steenson and John Faloon were receiving quality ball and after play was brought into the Omagh 22, Matthew Reaney was on the end of some sharp passing to score in the far corner.

By now the home forwards were warming to the task and after a line out on the visitor’s 22, Jack Treanor was on the end of a
great 20 metre maul for a good forwards try. Kyle Faloon added the points and Omagh converted a penalty to bring the half time score to 22-11 to Armagh.

With club coach Willie Faloon now entering the fray, the second half was brought to life early on with John Faloon making a
break through the centre. When Omagh managed to stop the attack, Gerard Treanor popped the ball to Willie Faloon who drove over for a good try.

Omagh added yet another penalty and after the restart, Kyle Faloon collected a kick in his own half and after showing great pace and footwork scored a great converted try under the posts, 34-14 to Armagh.

Another line-out maul led to another try for Jack Treanor, and shortly after with Omagh pressing up the pitch, Kyle Faloon picked up a loose ball on his 10 metre line setting the backline in motion.

Lester burst down the wing into the Omagh half with Willie Faloon collecting the off-load and when tackled short of the line he popped the ball up for Steenson to crash over for a fantastic team try.

With the appreciation of the watching crowd still ringing out, Omagh retorted with a try and conversion of their own on the restart when their out-half stepped inside the cover for converted try. The referee blew up early with the final score
48-21 in a very entertaining game.

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