The Red n’ Black army from the Palace Grounds descended on the Kingspan Stadium for the second time this week. On Tuesday last their 1st XV claimed the Senior Cup for the first time ever, but wasn’t to be for their second string as cup holders Ballynahinch II’s put in a polished display which saw them claim their ninth Junior Cup from ten finals played.
Armagh opened the scoring after just three minutes when Harry Boyd struck over a penalty from 40 metres, but that was as good as it got for the Cathedral City side. From then on Ballynahinch took over but poor execution in the Armagh red zone let them down as they took time to adjust to a slippy ball due to the consent drizzle.
After 30 minutes the holders were 6-3 to the good, after two Gareth Rea penalties, and on 34 minutes Rea took his tally to eight when he converted the games first try from the left sideline. Winger Patrick Wright made a break from halfway and linked up with full back James McBriar who finished well.
Things got even better for the Ballymacarn Park outfit three minutes later and McBriar was in the thick of it again forcing Armagh into a turnover in their own half. He fed David Harris who played in Aaron Ferris to sprint into the right corner for the game’s second try. This gave Ballynahinch a commanding 18 – 3 lead at the turnaround.
Armagh made a bright start to the second half but found the Hinch defence in a mean mood, however, fortune favours the brave, and a combination of great discipline and patience saw full back Kyle Faloon get over for a try.
Unfortunately for Armagh, a knock on from the restart handed the momentum straight back to Hinch. Armagh were able to turn Hinch over on their own five metre line but a miscued clearance from out-half Boyd only ended up finding Hinch winger Aaron Ferris and the former Queens speedster had the easy job of running in unopposed for a 23-8 lead.
Armagh battled gamely to the end but a watertight Ballynahinch defence kept them out time and time again. It was a brave effort as Armagh chased an historic cup double but it was Ballynahinch who took away the Junior Cup for another year.
Ballynahinch II: James Blair, Aaron Ferris, David Harris, William Stewart, Patrick Wright, Justin Rea, Christopher Gibson, Kevin Hamilton, Conor Piper, Stuart Orr, Andrew Simpson, Matthew Connolly, Brian Howard, Connor Phillips, Gareth Gill. Replacements: Graham McKittrick, Ben Cullen, Kenny Morton, Ryan Wilson, Joseph Bingham.
City of Armagh II: Kyle Faloon, Pau Gimelo Alvarez, Evan Crummie, Chris Cousens, Misti Bogitini, Harry Boyd, David Spratt, John Fletcher, Jonathan Morton, Eoin O’Hagan, Stephen Morton, William Martin, Joshua Kennedy, Gareth McNiece, Barry Finn. Replacements: Andrew Edwin Morton, Simon Carlisle, James Hanna, Ruairi, Karlsen, Shane McKeever.
Referee: Mr Peter Martin
Photo credit – Bob Given Photography