Armagh, a Division 2B side in the All Ireland League, soon showed that they were in no way daunted by their visit to Eaton Park , outplaying the home side for large parts of the game and losing to an injury time penalty. They enjoyed most of the possession and territory for the first fifteen minutes, and it was against the run ff play when Ballymena took the lead with a Richie McMaster penalty. That lead didn‘t last long, however, when a loose clearance fell into the arms of the Armagh full back, which gave their lively backs a chance to counter attack, and a good run by their right wing took the play to within ten metres of the Ballymena line and forced the home side to concede a penalty. Armagh opted for the line out, and a well worked catch and drive saw their second row plunge over for a try far out on the right to give them a 5-3 lead.
McMaster restored Ballymena’s lead with a penalty on 22 minutes , a lead which was increased not long afterwards when a long line out drive brought them to the Armagh line, and it was Stephen Mulholland who got over for the touchdown for a try which McMaster converted to put Ballymena 13-5 ahead, which is how it stayed until half time.
Armagh were soon back in the game when after two minutes a brilliant individual try by Colvin and a conversion brought them to within one point of Ballymena, and was a fitting reward for the enterprise their backs had shown throughout the game. Another excellent try, this time by Ballymena, saw the game swing their way. It was initiated by Jordan Foster, who for about the first time in the game, found a bit of space and threaded his way through the Armagh defence. He found Matthew Rea in support, who made gground and transferred the ball to Adam McBurney. He then threw a long pass to winger James Beattie who went in at the corner for a try which McMaster could not convert. Ballymena’s lead was now 18-12, and the danger of a match winning try and conversion was always present as Armagh continued to press. They missed an easy shot at goal and when Rea was yellow carded Ballymena faced a difficult twenty minutes, holding on to that slender lead. With minutes left to go, out half Eden Manihera made a searing break through the heart of the Ballymena defence, getting to within metres of the Ballymena line. The ball was recycled and Martin finished the movement off with a try which was converted to give his side what appeared to be a winning 19-18 score line.
Ballymena, showing that determination which has served them well all season, went on the attack and in the third minute of injury time won a penalty out on the left, some thirty five metres from the posts. McMaster stepped up and confidently sent the ball between the posts to give Ballymena two point win.
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