With a team shorn of all its Ulster contingent, Ballymena took the field at Eaton park expecting a hard tussle with Cork based opponents, Dolphin, and the first half soon showed that the visitors were up for the task, dominating possession and territory. The almost continuous pressure they exerted in this first period brought them a succession of penalties and out half Barry Sheehan kicked three of them to open up a nine point lead at half time. The major consolation for Ballymena was the way the team had defended and had absorbed the pressure, but the failure to seriously challenge the Dolphin defence was a bit of a worry.
The second half began with Ballymena in a more determined mood, helped by a mistake by Dolphin who made a mess of the kick off and handed possession to Ballymena on the half way line. After three minutes a Ballymena scrum in midfield was easily won and out half Glenn Baillie put in a superb kick to the left corner, forcing the Dolphin full back to side foot the ball into touch just metres from the line, giving Ballymena the throw in. A good line out take launched a series of attacks and after controlled period of possession James Beattie burst into the line and defied all efforts to bring him down, getting across for his score almost on his knees. Baillie obliged with the conversion and at 7-9 Ballymena were back in the game. Another period of pressure by the home pack gave the backs an opportunity to create space and a great offload by Jordan Foster sent Beattie in for his second try of the day, which the referee awarded after consulting the touch judge.
Ballymena were now 14-9 n the lead but Dolphin showed they were not yet finished when no.8 and captain Ryan Murphy got the touchdown for a try following a lineout drive. Out half Keeshan converted to restore their lead at 16-14. Both sides continued to move the ball wide, but as the game headed for the full time whistle, it was the home side that got the crucial score. A clever piece of interplay between scrum half Creighton and McBurney created space for the full back and he sliced through the Dolphin defence at pace, sidestepping the Dolphin full back and grounding the ball just to the right of the posts, making for an easy conversion by Baillie. The score now was 21-16, still within Dolphins reach, but their efforts to break Ballymena down came to nothing, and they became more ragged as frustration set in. Things got worse for them when the home side got a penalty in front of the posts in injury time, and Baillie’s conversion opened up that crucial eight point lead. The referee somehow found five minutes of injury time but Ballymena held out comfortably and recorded their third win out of four in the opening tranche of All Ireland League games, Leaving them in third place in the table. There is a short break in the league programme until the 29th October when Ballymena travel to Limerick to face table topping UL Bohemian, the only undefeated team.