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Armagh and Rainey facing play-off shoot-outs

 

By Michael Sadlier

And then there were two. City of Armagh and Rainey Old Boys face winner takes all promotion play-offs next weekend, against Old Crescent and Tullamore respectively, after triumphing in their semi-final games.

However, it wasn't all about celebratory outcomes for the Ulster clubs involved in the AIL's knockout stages as Malone dropped out of the process in the wake of their defeat at Dolphin.

The most dramatic encounter of the weekend was at the Palace Grounds where Armagh and Wanderers found themselves playing extra-time before Kyle Faloon's try ensured that Alex McCloy's men lived to fight another day as they won this Division 2B play-off semi-final 20-15.

Armagh will now host Old Crescent this weekend with a place in next season's Division 2A up for grabs.

Regarding last Saturday's game, the Orchard County club built up a 15-7 lead after tries from Andrew Willis and Philip Fletcher but were unable to add anything more to their total which allowed Wanderers the chance to battle back.

Indeed, the Dubliners tied the scores in the last minute of normal time with their missed conversion dramatically forcing the game into extra-time to decide it.

With weariness setting in for both sides, Faloon's touchdown proved to be the only score during an edgy period of extra-time allowing Armagh edge closer to ending their season on a high with this weekend's shoot-out for promotion.

Rainey also did it the hard way in their Division 2C promotion play-off semi-final by winning 30-21 at Sligo and, by doing so, the Magherafelt club have earned themselves a home final against Tullamore.

Victory would allow John Andrews' squad to bounce back into 2B after just one season in the AIL's lowest tier.

It was an impressive effort from Rainey, who had earlier in the season lost both regulation games to the Connacht club, and the visitors had managed to put themselves 27-16 ahead at half-time.

Former Ulster player Ricky Andrew was one of Rainey's three try scorers with Tommy O'Hagan and Darren Corrigan also crossing while Scott McLean's 15 points from the tee were also crucial.

Malone, though, fell 20-8 to Dolphin for their 2A semi-final and with that result the chances of four Ulster clubs being in next season's 1B - established top flight clubs Ballymena and Ballynahinch along with newly promoted Banbridge - were extinguished.

The Gibson Park side's only try came late in the game from skipper Neil Alcorn after they trailed 13-3 at the break.

Div 2A: play-off semis: Highfield 9 Nenagh 13, Dolphin 20 Malone 8

Div 2B play-off semis: Armagh 20 Wanderers 15 (after extra time), Sunday's Well 21 Old Crescent 46

Div 2C play-off semis: Bective 15 Tullamore 22, Sligo 21 Rainey 30

Remaining play-offs for Ulster clubs to be played this weekend:

2B promotion play-off: Armagh v Old Crescent

2C promotion play-off: Rainey v Tullamore

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