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Ireland clinch Celtic Nations Cup

23rd August 2014, 15:03

Ireland clinch Celtic Nations Cup

Ireland Wolfhounds have won the inaugural Rugby League Celtic Nations Cup following a 28-22 win over Wales Dragonhearts in Colwyn Bay on Saturday.

WALES DRAGONHEARTS 22 IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS 28

By Ian Golden

 

Ireland Wolfhounds have won the inaugural Rugby League Celtic Nations Cup following a 28-22 win over Wales Dragonhearts in Colwyn Bay on Saturday.

 

A 19-point win would have given Wales the title but instead they’ll pick up the wooden spoon following their 18-16 loss in Scotland a fortnight ago.

 

The Wolfhounds had never won the previous Four Nations tournament (that also included England), competed for 12 years between 2002 and 2013, so this victory will ensure that Irish eyes are smiling as the current crop create a piece of history.

 

The “A” sides from both countries fought out a tremendous battle with Wales dominating early proceedings. But with Ireland rendering Wales scoreless for the middle 40 minutes of the encounter, the Welsh were 16-points down with 15 minutes left on the clock and had been left with far too much to do.

 

Former South Wales Scorpions centre, Bradley Hill, now with Welsh Conference runners up Aber Valley Wolves, gave Wales a third minute lead with Paul Emanuelli converting before Brad Hargreaves’ unconverted opener for Ireland brought the score back to 6-4.

 

An Aled Davies try in the corner on 21 minutes extended Wales’ lead to 10-4 but the hosts would only hold that advantage for a further nine minutes.

 

Mikey Russell was next over for Ireland with Curtis Stewart following suit two minutes before the break. Casey Dunne converted both to give the Wolfhounds a  16-10 lead at the break.

 

Mark Kenny’s unconverted effort on 53 minutes extended the lead further before Gareth Gill scored in the first set after kick off to put the game out of Wales’ reach. Dunne goaled to make the score 26-10.

 

Then came Wales’ comeback. A strong run and try from Geraint Clarke on 65 minutes was immediately followed by John Ketland scoring in the corner after an excellent team passing move.  Emanuelli converted both and Wales were just four points down and while the title looked out of reach, a win wasn’t beyond them.

 

But the Irish defence stood firm and despite the passionate Welsh crowd cheering their team on, it was the newly crowned champions who had the final say as Dunne added a penalty just before the hooter to launch the celebrations.

 

This game was the first of three matches against Ireland for various Wales sides in the north this year. On Sunday 19th October in Wrexham, the two sides meet at under 18 level while the Racecourse will host the full Wales v Ireland European Championship match on Sunday 2nd November. A magazine covering both games will be available to pre-order next week at www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk.

 

WALES DRAGONHEARTS

5 Lee Goddard

14 John Ketland

4 Mike Hurley

3 Daryl Carter

19 Aled Davies

7 Callum Bennett

18 Paul Emmaunelli

16 Geraint Clarke

9 Ryan Bates

10 Scott Britton

11 Bradley Hill

12 Chris True

13 Gareth Way

Subs (all used):

6 Rob Andrews

8 Lee Harben Jones

20 Nathan Hawkins

17 Anthony Tilley

 

Tries: Hill (3), Davies (21), Clarke (65), Ketland (68)

Goals: Emanuelli 3/4

 

IRELAND

1 Casey Dunne

2 Columba Kelly

3 Callum Mulkeen

4 Brad Hargreaves

5 Mark Kenny

6 Nick Finlay

7 Adam Cox

8 Gareth Gill

9 Mikey Russell

10 Matty Hadden

11 Matty Cahoon

12 Chris Hall

13 Wayne Kelly

Subs (all used):

14 Matt Bailey

15 Sean Rees

16 Curtis Stewart

17. Andrew Keating

 

Tries: Hargreaves (14), Russell (30), Stewart (38), Kenny (53), Gill (57)

Goals: Dunne 4/6

 

Half-time: 10-16

Referee: Liam Moore

Attendance: 250