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Armagh book final showdown after coming from behind against Malone

 

By Michael Sadlier

Armagh will be contesting their first ever First Trust Senior Cup final next month when they will take on 14-time winners Ballymena at the Kingspan Stadium in the shoot-out for silverware.

The Palace Grounds side overcame visitors Malone by 26-19 to book their place at the Kingspan for the showpiece game on December 19 while the Braidmen toppled holders Ballynahinch 13-6 at Eaton Park to scupper the Co Down club's plans for a fourth straight title.

Armagh dug in to come back from being 11-0 down after just 16 minutes.

The visitors had raced into an early lead after Mark O'Connor's try and two penalties but Armagh pegged them back just before the half hour when Neil Faloon dotted down allowing Cormac Fox to convert.

Fox then slotted a penalty to cut Malone's lead to one point as the sides turned around.

O'Connor kicked his third penalty to make it 14-10 to Malone but, from there, Armagh hit back with 16 unanswered points.

Faloon got a second try which Fox converted and the latter then slotted another three penalties to put Armagh in front by 26-14 as the game entered its final stages.

Matthew Dalton's last minute try was too little, too late for Malone.

At Eaton Park, Ballymena ended Hinch's reign as champions in a contest which went right to the wire. Ballymena only led 8-6 at half-time following an Angus Kernohan try and Callum Patterson penalty while Brian McLaughlin's visitors managed two Justin Rea penalties.

Controversy then came calling in the second half when Ballymena's Rodger McBurney knocked down a pass from Will Stewart to Aaron Ferris with a potential score in the offing.

McBurney was shown a yellow card but Hinch's advantage was soon wiped out when Graham McKittrick was also sin-binned.

With the score still 8-6 to the Braidmen, Rea then just missed a 73rd minute penalty to nudge Hinch in front and the contest ended with the Co Down side being picked off in attack allowing Patterson to dash in and seal the result.

Belfast Telegraph

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