After defeating Banbridge in the final last year, the Braidmen once again proved too strong for their opponents after a clinical first half display.Rainey got off to a great start and opened the scoring within five minutes of play, courtesy of a penalty from fullback Mark O’Connor, brother of Ulster outhalf Niall.
But following a series of rumbles from the Ballymena pack and a break by Martin Irwin, centre Peter Budina took advantage of quick recycling by his team mates to notch the first try of the game. Fullback Timothy Small added a simple conversion to give his side a 7-3 lead.
O’Connor and Small both missed penalty attempts shortly after so the scoreline remained until the last play of the first half. An excellent offload by the influential Irwin sent Ulster development hooker John Burns through a gap and he made the most of it by using his footwork to beat the last defender. Small made no mistake with the extras to give Ballymena a 14-3 lead at the interval.
O’Connor and Small traded penalties to maintain the 11 point margin going into the last 20 minutes. By that stage the game looked beyond Rainey and it was confirmed with another penalty from Small and a late unconverted touchdown by former Leinster prop Simon Shawe.
Rainey battled to the end, but Ballymena, with First Trust Man of the Match second row Ian Caldwell to the fore, were thoroughly deserving of their second title in as many years.
View the highlights below: (Thanks to Harry Cook TV)