16 Apr 2018
Tullamore 42 - 12 Bangor
In typical fashion, it went down to the last game of the season to determine the fate of the Tulliers for next season.
Going into the match, Tullamore stood 2nd from bottom and 4 points behind their nearest opposition, Bruff RFC. There was no denying the sheer size of the task ahead of the lads on Saturday afternoon as they went to blows with Bangor RFC from County Down. Thankfully for the Tulliers, the Bangor men were already assured of their safety for next season and thus has little to play for, apart from their pride. This worked to the home side's advantage from the kick off.
The Tullier's made their mark on the scoreboard early on, through a Karl Dunne penalty in front of the posts after just 2 minutes; Bangor penalised for a dangerous tackle, 30 meters out. Just 3 minutes later, Karl's tally for the day increased by another 3 points as the visitors were punished for not releasing the ball carrier on the ground.
The opening quarter was all Tullamore, and it wasn't until prop Ger Molloy was cautioned for a high tackle 22 metres out after 21 minutes, that Bangor had their first chance to take a shot at goal. They opted for the line instead, which came to little fruition, much to the home side's relief. Molloy compensated for this early mistake minutes later, when he ran onto the ball 5 meters out from the try line, bashing his way over the whitewash to touch down for Tullamore's first try of the afternoon. Dunne was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt, leaving the score 11-0 in favour of Tullamore.
Just before the whistle blew for half time, the home side gave the crowd something to cheer about as out-half Aidan Wynne offered up a lovely wrap around pass to the oncoming full-back Brian Geraghty, to run in under the posts. A comfortable 16 point lead for the Tulliers, but still more to work towards for the second half. In order to give themselves the best chances of survival, the home side needed to win by a 20 point margin at minimum. Tullamore's fate wasn't entirely in their own hands however, they were also relying on 4th place Omagh to do them a favour by overcoming Bruff.
As the second half resumed, it wasn't all plain sailing for the Tulliers - Bangor made inroads during the opening 5-10 minutes, gaining meters with every phase they played. Thankfully the home side remained strong and the defensive partnership between Kelso and McCabe worked wonders on the left wing.
Just 7 minutes into the second half, Tullamore's chances of avoiding a relegation play-off were looking even more promising. They went 21-0 up after hooker Cathal Feighery ran on to a botched Bangor line-out attempt approximately 15 meters out, to score inside the white wash. The keen home crowd had never seen such pace from the hooker. The steam train kept on rolling for the remainder of the half as Geraghty bagged his second of the afternoon, with Karl Dunne adding the much needed conversion.
After resident prop Ger Molloy was sin binned for yet another high tackle just before the hour mark, it afforded the visitors prime opportunity to finally get some points on the board. They made no mistake in doing so, taking advantage of an overlap on the right wing just 3 minutes later. Straight from the restart, Tullamore were gunning for more and out-half Wynne was rewarded with a much deserved try after a stunning line off the young scrum-half, Sam Burns, from 10 metres out. This pushed the Tulliers points difference up a little more, offering some more security on the table.
They say it's not over until the fat lady sings, and that was most true on Saturday as Bangor ran in a second try with 15 minutes to go after several missed tackles from a tiring Tullamore side. It was the young guns that reignited the spark with 10 minutes remaining as young centre, Kelso intercepted a pass on his own 22 meter line and scurried his way up the pitch for Tullamore's final try of the afternoon. As the whistle blew 10 minutes later, to a rapturous applause from the home crowd, the players and management remained anxious as they awaited news of the outcome of their fate.
Management eagerly refreshed their phones for news of the scoreline between Omagh and Bruff, and when confirmation finally came through 5 minutes later, they all jumped for joy as relief swept the air.