Ireland Rugby League

By Ian Golden, Date: 24/8/14

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

Mascord Brownz