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Ballynahinch bounce back as Ballymena are hit by late sucker punch

All-Ireland League 1B

By Michael Sadlier

Not for the first time, things didn’t quite work out as both Ulster’s teams in 1B had planned with Ballynahinch getting back to winning ways at home while Ballymena had to absorb their first defeat — albeit by a point — down in Cork.

Hinch coach Derek Suffern had stressed how his squad needed to bounce back from the previous weekend’s heavy defeat down at UL Bohemians and though their winning scoreline of 18-12 over Shannon was hardly the most convincing, the fact that four points were bagged was crucial.

Indeed their victory at Ballymacarn Park — Hinch have now won two from three — saw Suffern’s charges rise from fifth to third in the table ahead of Saturday’s trip to mid-table Old Wesley, which will have definitely boosted confidence.

It certainly didn’t start off in an ideal way as Hinch trailed 5-3 at the break, but they took the lead soon after the restart when nippy scrum-half Angus Lloyd set up Chris Quinn for the Co Down side’s first try.

Quinn then slotted a second penalty just before the hour and then Justin Rea added the conversion to David Nicholson’s touchdown which saw Hinch lead 18-5.

But Shannon weren’t finished and hit back with a try and conversion but they couldn’t overhaul Hinch.

As for Ballymena, they succumbed 18-17 to a late penalty at UCC which must have made the lengthy journey home seem even longer with just a losing bonus point for their efforts.

Indeed, the particularly galling thing about the result was that the Braidmen — who had veteran Bryan Young at prop — were in control of this game with tries from Connor Smyth, Martin Irwin and in-form Mark Best all arriving within the first 30 minutes to bring about a 17-3 lead.

But the students grabbed a converted try before half-time and then in the closing stages another try arrived before Kevin O’Keefe landed the killer punch in injury time.

Div 1B results: Ballynahinch 18 Shannon 12, Dolphin 27 Galweigans 18, Naas 16 Buccaneers 24, UCC 18 Ballymena 17, UL Bohemians 29 Old Wesley 21

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