Bangor blown away at Tullamore
With Tullamore fighting for their survival in Division 2C, Bangor faced difficult playing conditions and a determined home side, eventually losing by 42-12.
As this year’s league competition reached its final day, there was much to play for at both ends of the table. For Bangor, having already secured their place in next year’s competition, this was something of a dead fixture, with nothing of importance at stake, save for their pride and a positive end to their difficult and uneven league campaign. By contrast, Tullamore needed a win at least, preferably with a bonus point, and also plenty of points on the scoreboard to overtake Munster side Bruff and, in so doing, avoid the dreaded relegation play-off.
Playing with the strong wind in the first half, Bangor received Tullamore’s kick-off, but almost immediately fell foul of the referee as he penalised them for a dangerous tackle. The kick which was directly in front of Bangor’s posts was converted to give the home side an early 3 point lead. This onslaught continued with Bangor seemingly unable to avoid the referee’s displeasure. Within the first 5 minutes, they had conceded 4 penalties, which saw Tullamore extend their lead to 6-0. Things got worse for Bangor after 23 minutes when Andrew Shaw was deemed to have used his boot illegally, and spent the next 10 minutes in the sin bin. During his absence, Tullamore piled on the forward pressure and capitalised with a try from prop E Bracken. Although 11-0 down, Bangor were still very much in the game, with long attacking spells within the Tullamore twenty two. Unfortunately, as has been the case in recent fixtures, they were unable to make the final yards count, and left with nothing to show for their endeavours. To make matters worse, Tullamore scored through fullback B Geraghty with the last play of the first half, making the score 16-0 as the sides turned around.
As the second half got underway, and with 2 tries already in the bag, Tullamore soon added a third when a Bangor lineout was tapped down instead of caught cleanly, the bobbling ball was then scooped up by the Tullamore hooker, and a clear run to the line saw him touch down to extend his side’s lead to 21-0. Bangor needed to up their game, but instead the mistakes kept coming until Geraghty completed a nice back line move to score Tullamore’s all important bonus point try. The addition of the conversion by K Dunne meant the home side were now ahead by 28-0, and victory was now in sight. Although Bangor pulled back 12 points through two good tries from Phil Broderick and Desi Fusco, as well as a conversion by Mark Widdowson, these were cancelled out by two more tries from the home side, both of which were converted. Both sides were undoubtedly pleased to hear the final whistle, but for very different reasons. Bangor had suffered another bad defeat and had leaked many points, but Tullamore had done enough in terms of the bonus point win and the improved points difference to avoid the relegation play-off, securing their senior status and staying in AIL Division 2C for another season.
Despite their poor finish to this season’s league, Bangor finished in seventh place, one place higher than their previous season. However, given that they were challenging for a promotion play-off place not that long ago, there will inevitably be disappointment that this opportunity was lost. There is little doubt that the long list of injuries and player movements had a major impact on the shape and consistency of the team. Hopefully, the summer break will see more familiar faces return to the fray, as well as seeing the up-and-coming new talent blossom and become more fully integrated into the senior squad.