Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 35-7 at home to Dungannon 1st XV


On Saturday 18 November 2023 Instonians welcomed Dungannon to Shaws Bridge.

Dungannon President Richie Weir and his party were warmly welcomed to the pre-match lunch, and it was great to see these big senior clubs renewing their traditional rivalry with a huge mutual respect for each other.

Everyone was thoroughly entertained at a packed-out lunch by guest speaker Instonian Colin Barclay and a song from the Lagan Seahorses choir while Instonian stalwart Willie Corry was presented with a personalised Cosimac as a token of the club’s appreciation for Harry Corry’s sponsorship of the club’s superb outreach program in the schools.

Expectations were high on the balcony and along the touchlines for the renewal of rivalries as the clock reached 2.30 p.m.

14:30 Instonians 0 – Dungannon 0

In light drizzle and with a slight breeze at their backs, Dungannon kicked off playing towards the far car park.

Dungannon immediately went on the attack and when Instonians interfered at the line out the Dungannon out half Andrew McGregor found a great touch just 5 metres from the line on the right hand side of the pitch. The ball was secured in the line out and then moved left off the 9 to runners close to the try line under the posts. Instonians responded with a great counter ruck however and from a resultant scrum under their own posts Instonians out half Richie McMaster cleared the lines.

14:44 Instonians 0 – Dungannon 0

The early penalty count was against Instonians and Dungannon continued to apply pressure by kicking for line outs and using their very effective maul. Again they worked runners off the 9 to take play back under Instonians’ posts. The defence from Instonians was outstanding to a man and they eventaully ended up pushing Dungannon back to the home side’s 10 metre line.

No doubt Instonians will have been working on their defence in training during the week having shipped 38 points the week before in a thrilling 39-38 win against Wanderers in Dublin. It certainly paid dividends and Dungannon will have been very frustrated not to be ahead on the score board at this stage of the match.

14:56 Instonians 7 – Dungannon 0

Instonians then started to get on top and as is usually the case the penalty count started to go in their favour. It was now their turn to use their driving maul off the lineout and put pressure on Dungannon and Instonians also held the ascendancy in the scrums.

Good continuity between forwards and backs saw Instonians win a penalty 5 metres out. The easy 3 points were declined in favour of a kick to touch 5 metres out and young hooker Ollie Clarke latched on to the driving maul and touched down for the try in the corner. Richie McMaster added a great touchline conversion.

Instonians then attacked the next Dungannon scrum and won the scrum penalty against the head. From the next line out the ball was moved infield and from the ruck scrum-half Rhys O’Donnell made a clean line break but when tackled was penalised for not releasing.

14:56 Instonians 14 – Dungannon 0

Instonians won the subsequent Dungannon lineout and following another period of very good continuity the referee’s patience ran out and a yellow card was brandished at the next breakdown to the Dungannon no 8.

A great kick by Richie McMaster set up the line out on the Dungannon 22 on the right and the ball was moved left and after the 2nd ruck the first bit of real class in the match when Rhys O’Donnell snapped right and passed and looped round to then throw a miss pass to full back Bradley McNamarra who had timed his run to perfection as he burst on to the ball and then dummied at pace and raced through to score. Richie McMaster added the extras from 15 metres in from the touchline.

Dungannon went straight back on the attack still trying to use the slight breeze in their favour and their ourhalf Andrew McGregor spotted the space to put in an excellent grubber kick to find touch deep in the Instonian 22 but the home side immediately took a quick line out and Richie McMaster cleared to the 22.

15:16 Instonians 21 – Dungannon 0

Instonains won the Dungannon line out and then showed great hands in the back line moving the ball swiftly right to the wing and then recycling the ball and moving it back left across the pitch to the other wing where Matthew Keane just could not find the final pass back inside and was tackled into touch.

Again Instonians attacked in the back line and through support runners and just when the Dungannon no 8 was about to come back on following his yellow card, another Dungannon player was given a yellow card for a high tackle.

From the penalty on halfway Richie McMaster found touch on the Dungannon 22 on Instonians right and when the ball was moved infield Gary Dillon made a great break from the next ruck and sprinted through to sidestep and then score under the posts. The conversion was added by Richie McMaster.

With the half time whistle following the conversion that was a great time for Instonians to score but conversely a poor time for Dungannon to concede.


HALF TIME –Instonians 21 – Dungannon 0

Instonians will have been pleased to score 3 converted tries in the 1st half but what will have given the players and coaching team much more pleasure was the fact they kept a clean sheet. Defence had been their focus during the week leading up to the match and it was extremely good and in particular in that opening 15-minute period.

Dungannon will have been given confidence by the way they took the game to the league leaders but disappointed to not have turned possession and territory into points early on.

15:22 Instonians 21 – Dungannon 0

Instonians now had the slight breeze in their favour as they kicked off to start the 2nd half and immediately put pressure on Dungannon and continued to try to keep the ball alive and move it wide at every opportunity.

Just when Dungannon attempted a long clearance kick Matthew Keane did brilliantly to keep the ball in play and passed inside to full back Bradley McNammara who again put the Dungannon defence under pressure with his pace and elusiveness.

After another penalty at the breakdown Dungannon were spoken to again. Richie McMaster found a good touch 10 metres from the Dungannon line on the right and from the line out the ball was moved off the top to Ian Whitten who made ground but from the next passage of play the final pass was just knocked forward over the line.

When Dungannon tried to move the ball out of defence however, a great jackal by Paul Pritchard won Instonians a penalty. They opted for a scrum and David Whitten attacked off the base and was tackled just short of the try line. Rhys O’Donnell tried to snipe over for the 4th try and bonus point but suffered a serious injury to his ankle getting his leg trapped between 2 defenders on the try line. We await news on the extent of the injury and wish Rhys well in his recovery.

It shows the strength of this Instonian squad however, when their player of the year for last season and the player of the season in AIL 2C goes off and they can replace him with a 9 of the quality of Matthew Keane. Also, the flexibility in the backline with Matthew coming off the left wing to 9, Ruari O’Farrell coming on at 10, Richie McMaster moving to 15 and Bradley McNamara to the left wing.

15:46 Instonians 28 – Dungannon 0

Dungannon survived that latest scare and set about trying to get some points on the board themselves. They made good ground up to halfway but as they attempted to move the ball right across their backline Paul Pritchard made a great read and intercepted the ball at pace. He made good ground up to just outside the Dungannon 22 when he gave a lovely switch pass to Bradley McNamarra who again had run a great support line to sprint through and dive over under the posts for the crucial 4th try and the bonus point.

The match was now over as a contest but Dungannon will have been looking to try to get some points on the board which their opening spell of the match had warranted. They kept the ball in hand and tried to run at Instonians but the home defence remained very good.

15:57 Instonians 35 – Dungannon 0

When Instonians again won another Dungannon line out on halfway the ball was moved left and Bradley McNamarra sped down the wing , chipped ahead past the last defender and judged his chase to perfection to slide in and gather the ball as his momentum took him over the line to complete his hattrick. A touch of individual brilliance from this exciting young back. Richie McMaster as is becoming the norm knocked over the conversion from the touchline despite it being the wrong side of the pitch for a left foot kicker.

16:01 Instonians 35 – Dungannon 7


Dungannon then showed great character to keep the ball in hand and keep testing the Instonians defence. They won a penalty at the breakdown and kicked for a line out 15 metres out on the right-hand side and produced their best driving maul of the day and when Instonians collapsed it the referee was already running under the posts with his hand raised for a penalty try.

Instonians will have been disappointed at the end of the match to miss out on a clean sheet but Dungannon were worthy of points for the effort they had put in and not dropping the heads or throwing the towel in. Jack Parkinson , the teenage Instonian replacement hooker was the man given the yellow card.

Instonians were still looking for more points themselves however and a brilliant quick tap penalty from the new 9 Matthew Keane saw him run half the length of the pitch up to the Dungannon 22 but the ball was lost forward on the next phase.

There was still one last chance for Instonians to add to their tally however and from a line out deep in the Dungannon 22 on the left the Instonian maul got within 5 metres of the try line but went into touch and that signaled the end of a hard fought physical contest.

FULL TIME – Instonians 35– Dungannon 7

This bonus point win finished off the 2nd block of 3 games before the 1-week break and Instonians will be delighted to come through unscathed especially after their narrow squeak in Dublin last week. A maximum haul of 30 points from the 1st 6 matches but still only 4 points ahead of Galway Corinthians in 2nd place. With a very good Wanderers team not far back in 3rd place there is still such a long way to go and next up is Malahide at home in a fortnight on Saturday 2 December.

Dungannon will be eagerly awaiting the return of players like Ben McCaughey and James McMahon and will still be a handful for teams in this league.

There were 3 contenders for MOM today with Richie McMaster giving an immaculate kicking display out of hand and off the tee and putting his backline in motion and Paul Pritchard excellent in attack and defence but the winner this week must be the hattrick man Bradley McNamara. He adds an extra dimension to an already very slick and talented backline.