Match Report: CI Secure Top 4 on Dee Day
CI travelled to Donaghadee knowing that a win by any margin would secure 4th place in Qualifying League 1 and with it, a spot in next season’s All Ireland Junior Cup.
CI started brightly down the slope with good possession and were soon on the board through a Michael McCombe penalty. The CI pack were dominating both scrum and line out and a strong scrum drive led to the second penalty of the day which was also converted.
The back line were unlucky on two occasions in not being awarded the first try of the day. Firstly, a cross-field kick by McCombe appeared to have been grounded after the bounce by Robin Brown but the referee awarded the 22. Then a strong break by Hodgen, saw Gilliland released on the right for the score, but the ref ruled a dubious forward pass.
CI did cross soon after though, with good footwork by Mark Scott near the left touch line and an inside pass, putting Gilliland in. The conversion was added before another scrum penalty to leave the score 16-0 at halftime.
Halftime: Donaghadee 0 CIYMS 16
The teams turned round for the second half with CI now playing up the slope and into the warming sunshine. Dee started well in the second half, penning CI back after a series of penalties. On the third attacking line out the Dee flanker showed good strength to cross for the score. 16-7
CI responded quickly to avoid the game getting uncomfortable and a break by Wilson released Hodgen to score under the posts.
A series of impressive line out drives gave CI good control of the game for the next period. Stevie McReynolds broke off the back of one of these drives to claim the next score deep in the Dee 22. The conversion was missed and CI played out the rest of the game in relative comfort in the Dee half.
The referee blew the final whistle with the score at 28-7 and brought the league campaign to a close.
Full time: Donaghadee 7 CIYMS 28
A solid win for CI at a tricky away venue. CI will reflect on a league campaign of three distinct phases of form in achieving a consecutive top 4 finish. Most importantly the third phase has seen a series of good performances, tries and wins. Credit to players and coaches on remaining focused on the overall goal.
Attention now shifts to preparing for the final outing of the season at Ravenhill for the McCrea Cup final on the 23rd.