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Malone continue their winning streak to boost play-off hopes

 

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On the charge: Armagh’s Evin Crummie makes a break

On the charge: Armagh’s Evin Crummie makes a break

PMAKER

On the charge: Armagh’s Evin Crummie makes a break

Another AIL weekend and, yes, another storm with some low-scoring games and, as far as 1B was concerned, all three Ulster representatives managed to emerge victorious.

For Malone, this meant a hat-trick of league wins as they came away from St Mary's College 19-7 to the good.

The Gibson Park club are hitting form at just the right time and the four points saw them stay in fourth with now the same number of regulation season games left to play.

With Banbridge, who are fifth, on the same number of points (38), Malone know that there is still no wriggle room for slippage if they are to progress to the play-offs and especially so with City of Armagh now just four back in sixth.

The Joe Dunleavy/Callum Smith combination ensured that Malone had the better of things in the opening half in Dublin.

Dunleavy got over for two tries while Smith added the conversions which put them 14-0 ahead.

Conor Spence was next to cross the St Mary's line for an unconverted score with the hosts' only response coming when they were 19 points in arrears.

Malone now host ninth-placed Naas in the next round of games on March 14 which may allow them to open up some daylight between themselves and Bann.

It took just two penalties to bring Bann victory at Naas in a game where there were only three scores in total and all were from kicks.

After finishing the first half at 3-3, Bruce Houston having opened the scoring for Bann with a penalty, the only other time the scoreboard moved was when Adam Doherty kicked a 75th-minute effort.

More importantly, the 6-3 result ended a two-game losing run for Mark McDowell's side and it keeps them in the hunt for the play-offs, though they will face a challenging trip to third-placed Shannon next time out.

City of Armagh did the same as Bann in halting a run of two previous games which had ended badly.

Putting together an 18-0 win at home against Shannon also ensured that Willie Faloon's squad took a step forwards again in the table, rising one place to sixth, so that all three Ulster clubs are grouped together in the standings.

More significantly, Armagh have now opened up a seven-point gap between themselves and Naas in ninth.

Robert Whitten and Neil Faloon were Armagh's try scorers with the remainder made up by Cormac Fox's boot thanks to his two penalties and conversion.

Up in 1A, Ballynahinch, not unexpectedly, lost for the 11th time in 14 games but did take a losing bonus point at Lansdowne from the 12-6 result.

Greg Hutley kicked two penalties for Hinch, who are still bottom, but there is hope of improving their situation as they remain one point behind UCC, who also picked up a losing bonus.

1A: Lansdowne 12 Ballynahinch 6.

1B: Naas 3 Banbridge 6, City of Armagh 18 Shannon 0, St Mary's College 7 Malone 19.

Belfast Telegraph