Armagh RFC v Ballynahinch RFC
SONI Ulster Premiership Division 1 League
Match Report by Richard Hart 0n 31.12.16 from the Palace Grounds.
A depleted Ballynahinch RFC made the journey to Palace Grounds in Armagh to take on the full strength home team in the continuation of the SONI Ulster Premiership top flight clash on Saturday.
With Armagh RFC having been thrown out of the First Trust Senior Cup at the Semi-Final stage after a complaint over an ineligible player that Armagh fielded, saw defeated semi-finalists Dungannon reinstated, this match was always going to be Armagh’s Cup Final and the Orchard County faithful were quick to point this out to the travelling fans.
Armagh started very strongly with their full All Ireland contingent and quickly laid down their intentions for the rest of the match, making some big breaks through the Hinch defence, which was well stretched.
The County Down outfit had been stretched to find a competitive 15 through injury and unavailability and with the 2nd XV taking on strong local rivals Dromore at Ballymacarn Park, it was an understrength Hinch side that turned out at Palace Grounds.
Armagh where first on the scoresheet through an excellent break from Fullback McNeice, who offloaded to centre partner Faloon who returned the ball for the 15 to dot down. Outhalf Cormac Fox added the extras from his reliable boot and the scene was set for the rest of the day.
With the Hinch defence constantly tested by surging Armagh attacks, there were two more tries for the Orchard County side, before an excellent move from the County Down outfit saw them win the ball back from the kick off and move it quickly through the fast attacking backs, supported by Stewart Evans who made a big individual carry to offload to the up and coming Chris Orr who dotted down for the visitor’s first score, with Quinn adding the extras. Armagh had the final say of the half from an dubious offside position which Referee Jonny Erskine let go, with a converted John Faloon try.
HT: Armagh 28 Ballynahinch 7
The second half, saw Armagh reinvigorate their attack with another early try and with Referee Erskine heavily penalising the County Down visitors under the new high tackle rules, where any tackle deemed to be above chest height is a straight penalty, there was no luck for the Ballymacarn men to be had.
With Armagh coached by rugby consultant Brian McLaughlin, it was an unusual sight to see his son Callum take the field for Ballynahinch and with his first touch of the ball, the young McLaughlin broke into the Armagh 22 with a kick and chase, only for the play to be again penalised as McLaughlin attempted to recover the ball.
On 54mins, the Referee’s patience was broken and he Yellow Carded the Armagh Fullback McNeice for persistent high tackles. Hinch immediately took advantage of the extra man and the penalty as they kicked to the corner and with Kenny Morton able to easily win ball at the line out, Hinch opted for a rolling maul, which crossed the Armagh line and substitute hooker Andrew Harper came up with the spoils, with Quinn adding the extras. 35-14.
Hinch now felt the wrath of Referee Erskine and saw two Yellow Cards for Davy Nicholson and Jordan Grattan and with Armagh also back at full strength, they punished the visitors, using the extra men and their formidable back row to run in two further tries, with the extremely reliable boot of Cormac Fox adding the extras and another penalty to completely close out the match for the home side and cross the 50 point mark.
Full Time: Armagh 52 Ballynahinch 14
Overall, this was always going to be a difficult match for the understrength Ballymacarn Park men and a full strength All Ireland Armagh side punished the visitors. Coach Derek Suffern will be working the Hinch men hard on the training park ahead of the visit of fellow County Down team Banbridge on Saturday for the next stage of the SONI Premiership. The Ballymacarn faithful will be expecting a very different result on Saturday as the home side continue to compete for the Stevenson Shield to add to the Senior Cup title.
SONI Premiership photos courtesy of Ken Redpath (Captions below photos)
Mini Rugby has started again at Ballynahinch RFC and is held each Saturday morning from 9.30-11am. Ballynahinch RFC caters for boys and girls who have started in P1 up to Year-8 (U-12’s), with training running for each age group in school years – P1 to P7 + Year-8’s. David Black is the Mini Convenor and is contactable on – 07760919094.
Details about Mini Rugby are posted weekly on the Club Facebook page –
or via the Club website – www.hinchrfc.com
Ballynahinch RFC is running a fundraising Lotto. 1st Prize is now an incredible £5,100 (increasing by £50 if not won) for getting 4 numbers correct and there is a shared £100 prize for getting 3 numbers. Please support the Club in its fundraising activities by supporting this enterprise. Tickets are available online at https://www.clublottery.com/Club/Details/20
This week 7 January sees the continuation of the SONI Ulster Premiership for Ballynahinch RFC as they welcome local rivals Banbridge to Ballymacarn Park.
Saturday 7 January 2017
Ballynahinch v Banbridge – SONI League
Ballynahinch 2’s v Coleraine – River Rock Towns Cup
Ballynahinch 3’s Free
Carrick 2’s v Ballynahinch 4’s
Ballynahinch 5’s v Randalstown 2’s
CIYMS 3’s v Ballynahinch 6’s
Evergreens v BHSFP 2’s
Ballynahinch U18’s v Carrickfergus U18’s
Ballynahinch U16’s v Carrickfergus U16’s
Ballynahinch U14’s v Carrickfergus U14’s
Saturday 31st December 2016
Armagh 52 Ballynahinch 14
Ballynahinch 2’s 31 Dromore 3