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Boss Reynolds delighted with Ballymena victories

By Ronnie Ingram

The Junior 5 title is now virtually a contest between Carrickfergus III and Ballymena IV, so when these two met in the first round of the Forster Cup there was a lot at stake.

It turned out that Ballymena, who had already defeated their opponents 21-12 in the league advanced to the second round of the cup by the greater margin of 23-6, this time at Carrick. The home team's task was made more difficult as they had a player binned in each half.

Alan Reynolds, manager of both Ballymena IV and V was a happy man as the fifths also progressed at the expense of Banbridge IV 38-0.

Reynolds commented: "It was a great afternoon for us and especially the IV's with their morale-boosting victory. We went in front after 10 minutes when the ball was moved quickly to winger Leon Dorrity who showed strength and pace to cross in the corner.

"An infringement on the ground reduced the arrears but then they had to defend for some time before we eventually scored again following a quick penalty."

The Braidmen made a few errors that deprived them of points.

Jonny Small had a simple penalty after 50 minutes, but an off-side allowed Carrick to bring the score back to 13-6 with a second Karl Wilkinson penalty. In the final 10 minutes, it was the visitors dictating the pattern of play.

They increased the pace and Donny McKendry was driven over also for his ninth try.

Reynolds said: "Our best try was the last which happened to be the final play of the tie. A cross field kick was fielded by 'flying' winger Maury McDowell who flicked the ball back to Small and he ran round the covering defence to score in the corner but his conversion attempt hit the upright.

"We now travel to Dromore III while the V's face Coleraine III."

Ballymena V got off to a great start when a Banbridge kick was charged down by full-back Stephen Johnston who raced clear to score and add the conversion.

He was also on target after Ben Gillen picked up from the base of a ruck to run in from 30 metres out. Banbridge were then further reduced to 13 players due to injuries and the home team kept up the momentum.

Later, Ballymena had a try from winger Davy Gaston and out-half Paul Campbell found space to round a couple of defenders to go under the posts. Johnston goaled and he also added the points when Cooke forced his way over after a five metre line-out.

The Forster Cup results were :- Armagh III 36 Holywood II 0, Ballyclare IV 19 Ards III 0, Ballymena V 38 Banbridge IV 0, Ballymoney III 43 Ballymoney IV 5, Carrickfergus III 6 Ballymena IV 24, Coleraine III 22 Portadown IV 15, Cooke III 17 CIYMS III 10, Dromore III 26 Academy II 3, Lurgan II 13 Randalstown II 25.

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