Ballymena’s quest to make the AIB Senior Cup final came undone at a weather-beaten Eaton Park on Saturday as Division 1A side Cork Constitution made it to next month’s showpiece in Athlone on the back of a polished 18-9 result.
The win means Con will now meet Garryowen on January 30 in an all-Munster final after the Limerick side saw off Dolphin 16-9 in the weekend’s other semi-final.
As for Ballymena, their bid to emulate Ballynahinch’s cup glory from last season came to an end because of the visitors’ greater ability to take the chances presented to them.
The Braidmen did, at least, produce a fairly vigorous performance, which will have been of some encouragement ahead of the AIL’s resumption in the New Year, but all they could manage against a highly organised defence was three Davy O’Hara penalties.
Con, currently lying second in Division 1A of the league, scored tries at crucial times with winger Richie Lane and prop Gareth Murray crossing the Ballymena line in either half.
The remainder of their points came from the boot of Scott Deasy who managed two penalties and a conversion to take the result beyond a valiant Ballymena.
Meanwhile, Ulster’s interest in the last four of the AIB Junior Cup fell to the bad weather with both Armagh and City of Derry unable to play at Tullamore and Monivea respectively due to frozen pitches.
Elsewhere, the conditions also got the upper hand for Queen’s University who, once again, found their AIL Division Three clash at bottom club Co Carlow postponed as the second-placed students bid to continue their pursuit of current leaders Midleton.
Instonians, though, did manage to complete their re-arranged game at distant Connemara with Clem Boyd’s squad winning 25-15 to take them to third in the table and place them firmly in the race for promotion.
After trailing 10-0 in the early part of the game, Inst came back with tries from Joshua Devitt, Chris Morgan and Rory McCann, along with 10 points from the latter’s boot.
A second try for Connemara was not enough to stop the Shaw’s Bridge side registering their third AIL win on the bounce.
In the Ulster Senior League, Portadown defeated Ards 13-7 while Dungannon just about got the better of Banbridge with the Co Tyrone side coming away from Rifle Park with a 10-5 win.