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Ballymena one win from earning promotion slot

By Ronnie Ingram

Ballymena will return to All Ireland League 1B rugby if they defeat UCC in Cork on Saturday.

Galwegians have already won the division but the second promotion place will go to either the Eaton Park team, City of Derry or UCC.

Should Ballymena lose they will have another opportunity but would then need to overcome Barnhall at Eaton Park.

In the 15 game competition, Ballymena have 46 points from 13, UCC 43 from 13 and City of Derry 43 from 14. Queen's and Barnhall are both on 41 points and now out of contention following their 10-10 draw.

"Our destiny is in our hands," acknowledged Ballymena director of dugby Pete McKenzie. "It is a big ask to travel to Cork and win but we don't want to leave our promotion chance to the last match of the competition.

"If UCC defeat us they are in the title chase so they will be up for the task. After a few lack lustre performances we at last showed what we are capable of on Saturday with seven tries to gain five points at Rainey.

"We were only 12 points in front at the interval but dominated the second half with top class performances from Ricky Andrew and Dave Shanahan"

Gregg Bailie converted the second of the tries by Shanahan and Andrew and just after the restart Adrian Hamilton extended the advantage.

Marty Irwin then broke from his own '22' and outstripped the defence for the next which Shanahan goaled to put Ballymena 24 points in front.

A George Fritz score was converted by Stuart Simpson to reduce the arrears but Ballymena were soon back in control when Shanahan picked up, drifted wide and cut through a couple of defenders to score for Johnny McMullan to add the points.

He then converted a second Andrew try before Rainey came back with a Peter Kidd score which Simpson goaled. Conor Smyth went under the posts for Ballymena's final effort, the conversion of which was missed.

Ulster teams' results: 2A: City of Derry 18 Seapoint 12, Rainey 14 Ballymena 43, Barnhall 10 Queen's 10, Old Wesley 31 Banbridge 31. 2B: Armagh 18 Ards 0, Instonians 5 Sligo 16

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