This was a perfect day for rugby with Shamrock Lodge in superb condition and the Belfast side looking for valuable points to enhance their chances of a top four finish. Boyne, on the other hand, had established a safe position in mid table and had to contend with a number of cry offs before this match for various reasons. The Duffy brothers, Eoghan & Bevan were absentees for different reasons. Bevan is nursing an injured shoulder whilst Eoghan didn’t line out because of his involvement this week with the Louth under 21’s in the Leinster final.
Boyne were playing Wanderers for only the second time on the home clubs astra turf surface pitch in the shadow of the Aviva Stadium. They must be wondering if it’s the surface or the surrounds that seems to affect their performance against a side that is struggling in this league and registered their first win in the league against Boyne on Saturday last.
Earlier in the season, Boyne visited the same ground in the Leinster Senior League and lost out in similar circumstances for the home sides only victory in that competition.
Boyne made a welcome return to Shamrock Lodge on Saturday last when they played Sundays Well in the Ulster Bank AIL Div 2B league. The Drogheda side had not played a home game since early December and ironically, their last game was also against a Cork side, Highfield. Last Saturdays match was a dogged affair and had plenty of thrills and spills before Boyne grabbed, what could only be described as a dramatic victory, with virtually the last kick of the game. Sundays Well must have faced the long journey back to Cork with a gnawing feeling that they let the result slip from their grasp.
For the second week in a row Boyne made the short trip to Kildare only this time they came away with no joy, going down to a very strong and physical NUIM Barnhall side. Only the dedicated rugby enthusiasts ventured out on a day that had all the inclement weather ingredients. It was cold, wet and windy which left conditions very difficult and suited a very heavy Barnhall set of forwards. Boyne were outmuscled from the start and despite taking an early lead when the Duffy brothers, Eoghan and Bevan combined to cross for their sides first score on the 9th minute.
That senior All Ireland rugby is now attracting the attention of a wider audience is beginning to show in the attendance at Boyne matches in Shamrock Lodge. The local side is also obliging their new found following with top class football and this game was played at high intensity with superb handling and blistering pace. This was the Cork clubs first visit to Drogheda and the established senior club received a hospitable welcome off the field but Boyne were in no mood to concede any favours on the field.
Boyne visited the Cathedral City of Armagh and played in the beautiful surrounds of the Palace grounds but, taking in the beauty of the landscape was far from the minds of the Boyne squad. For the second week in a row they faced opposition from Ulster and the relatively short distance up the road was a rewarding one for Craig McGrath and his men. Following an indifferent performance they managed to come away with a win on the slenderest of margins by 16pts to 15pts.
There was a fine crowd, bolstered by a large turnout of Banbidge supporters, at Shamrock Lodge on Saturday last to see an enthralling game of rugby between two sides at contrasting ends of the league table. Banbridge are a club who are well established in the AIL and occupied third spot entering this match. Boyne on the other hand, following a whirlwind start, suffered two defeats that put a dent in their morale and coach Craig McGrath set about restoring the sides confidence with some changes in personnel and increasing the players training schedule to three nights.
Boyne made the long trip to Cashel on Saturday last for an encounter with a team who were unbeaten in their opening four games in this league. The Tipperary side are also operating in this league for the first time, having qualified from Munster as Junior Division 1A champions last season.
This match pitted these two sides against each other for the first time in senior rugby. Navan have been featuring in this league for the past three seasons and perhaps this experience stood them in good stead throughout this match for various reasons. This was billed as the battle of the North East and a record crowd turned out at Shamrock Lodge to witness the encounter. The Ballymakennye road ground had its biggest ever crowd for a competitive game.
Table toppers Boyne, made the short journey to the J.J.McDowell Park in Sutton on Saturday last for this encounter with the north county Dublin side who are experienced AIL campaigners. Perhaps it was this experience that stood to them throughout this game. They got off to a flier when they scored a try, virtually from the kick off. Boyne failed to collect cleanly and knocked on from the attempted catch, advantage was allowed and the home side took the ball through midfield before releasing the ball to their backs. They completed the task by running it wide and scoring in the corner.