ALL IRELAND LEAGUE: Belfast Harlequins suffer seventh straight defeat after home loss to Shannon

Another All Ireland League defeat for Belfast Harlequins
Another All Ireland League defeat for Belfast Harlequins

BELFAST HARLEQUINS 10 SHANNON 32

Belfast Harlequins’ already grim season took a turn for the worse at Deramore when they were hammered in what was a must-win game for the struggling side.

Already firmly rooted to the bottom of the Division 1B table this seventh straight defeat now leaves Quins facing the unpalatable reality that they may not be able to rescue themselves from relegation.

Coach Adam Larkin’s side conceded seven tries to Shannon - who were only two places ahead of 10th-placed side Quins going into this weekend - and failed to register any scores at all from the first minute to the final moments of the game with second row Neil McComb scoring both their tries.

McComb got their first touchdown from the kick-off when Mark Glover put him clear and the Quins’ skipper dashed down the right wing though Matthew McDowell failed to land the conversion.

Shannon then hit back four minutes later when winger Stephen Fitzgerald got over near the posts and Tadgh Bennett converted to give the visitors a lead the would never surrender.

Glover thought he had scored from a kick and chase shortly afterwards but referee Stuart Gaffikin ruled it out for a knock-on and seven minutes later Bennett landed a penalty to make it 10-5.

That became 17-5 on the half hour when Shannon’s right winger Richard Mullane got over after the Limerick men had opted to take a quick penalty with Bennett converting.

Quins out-half was then wide with a penalty which was quickly followed by Bennett also seeing one go astray.

The half ended with Shannon’s third try which came from a lineout maul and scrum-half Dave O’Donovan dashed over though Bennett failed to convert to give the visitors a 22-5 lead at the turnaround.

They also started the second half strongly and Fitzgerald grabbed his second and Shannon’s bonus point just four minutes in with Bennett again missing the extras.

From here the game became a scrappy stalemate and Quins failed to take any advantage from centre Shane Mulally’s 60th minute sin-binning as they also had a man shown yellow four minutes later when prop Oliver McCollum was done for a deliberate knock-on.

However all ended with a flurry of activity and a superb Shannon counter-attack resulted in O’Donovan crossing for his second which this time Ronan McKenna failed to convert.

And then, in injury time, McComb made another strong run, this time down the left wing, and scored at the corner with Emerson unable to convert.

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