It was a mere vignette to proceedings, yet it summed up so much about Belfast Harlequins’ performance as Dolphin’s 28-7 win ushered the Deramore side out of the AIB Senior Cup.
With a makeshift Quins side trailing 8-0, winger Roger Kirkwood was faced with having to deal with visiting prop Aidan Foley. The contest looked mightily in favour of the Dolphin forward, but Kirkwood made a huge hit on the bigger and heavier man and brought him to ground.
The moment said everything about a Quins’ effort which had much to commend it through intent and aggression – Colin Atkinson, Gareth Rourke, Chris McCarey and William Stewart did a lot of damage in the tackle zone and with ball in hand – but ultimately failed to deliver where it really mattered, on the scoreboard.
Quins certainly had their chances, but three missed penalties from winger Richard Reaney left them unable to register points when they were needed
Dolphin were able to absorb a bristling performance from the Quins pack, particularly in the opening half hour, and took their chances when they were presented, though there were a plethora of knock-ons missed by referee Paul Haycock which also helped them on their way.
Their opening score from flanker Robbie Allen, just before the half hour, came against the run of play, and from turnover ball. Two penalties from visiting out half Barry Keeshan took the game away from Andy Ward’s men and late converted tries from Niall O’Driscoll and Rory Kenneally – the latter after visiting replacement prop Christy Condon was sent to the bin – sealed the win.
McCarey’s late, late score for Quins, with the extras coming from Miles O’Hagan, were mere consolation.
Elsewhere, Ballymena made it through to the quarter-finals after seeing off Young Munster 20-9 at Eaton Park with Ballymena winger Roger McBurney grabbing a brace of tries and Davy O’Hara making up the remainder two conversions and two penalties.
Their reward is a home tie against fellow Division 1B side, and current league leaders, Old Belvedere on Saturday week.
Queen’s University are also in the last eight after beating UCC 24-3 though they next must travel to Div 1A side Cork Constitution
In AIL Division Three, Ards grabbed a valuable 16-13 win at Naas to bring them their first win of the campaign while, in the Ulster League, Ballynahinch saw off Banbridge 22-0.