Armagh came back from an eleven point deficit on Saturday afternoon to claim a place in the Senior Cup Final which will take place at Ravenhill on Tuesday 19th December.
I haven’t covered much senior rugby, mainly due to the extra travelling and resources required on top of the Women’s AIL coverage, but a few enquiries around the great and the good of Senior Rugby seemed to put Malone at firm favourites.
So I planted myself at the end that Malone were attacking and waited for the tries to roll in. Initially it all seemed to be going to plan. Armagh enjoyed the bulk of territory and possession, but Malone were quick to counterattack and crucially, during the first quarter, they scored every time the visited the Armagh half.
Malone’s winger, Ryan Purvis, racked up two penalties and a try to give the visitors an eleven point lead before the quarter was out and, when Armagh bounced a comparatively simple penalty off the upright, it looked as though it wasn’t going to be the home side’s day.
However, they continued their efforts undeterred and midway through the second quarter thei inspirational back row, Neil Faloon, battled over the line for Armagh’s opening score. Cormac Fox added the extras and before long the outhalf was stepping up again to land a penalty to take the score to Armagh 10 Malone 11 at the break.
There had been a definite shift in momentum throughout that first half with Armagh now looking the more willing team for the fight, but it was Malone who struck first in the second half with a penalty from Purvis opening their lead up to four points.
It was only a temporary blip in the run of play and, four minutes later, Armagh took the lead for the first time with that man Faloon sliding under the defence after taking a quick tap penalty. Fox added the extras and Armagh led by 3 points.
With a lead to defend, Armagh played the percentage game, their kick and chase excellent throughout, and it yielded them three more penalties which Fox converted to push the score to 26 – 14 in their favour.
Malone rallied to claim a late try through second row Matt Dalton, but it was too little too late, Armagh holding on with comparative ease to claim their spot in the final.
Final score: City of Armagh 26 Malone 19