Ballynahinch lift cup as Clare miss their chances
Ballynahinch II 17 Ballyclare 7: Ballynahinch won an entertaining Millar, McCall Wylie Junior Cup final but if Ballyclare had taken their scoring opportunities in the first half at Ravenhill the result may have been closer.
Hinch had the better of the forward exchanges with strong running centres Davy Nicolson and Jordan Grattan in evidence but it was Clare who were unfortunate to be trailing 7-0 at the halfway stage.
From the kick-off, Hinch worked their way down to their opponents '22' and a passing movement between the backs and forwards led to captain Josh Donaldson touching down to the left of the posts for Davy Harris to convert.
Ballyclare, however, dictated the pattern of play for most of the second quarter. Full-back Adam Wardrop, who was always dangerous when breaking out of defence, made ground and despite an overlap on the '22' David Lawther chose to go n his own and was tackled, allowing Hinch to clear the danger.
After 22 minutes two Hinch defenders went for a kick through and the confusion led to a penalty. The kick into the corner led to Ballyclare losing their second line-out close to their opponent's line.
Just before half-time Clare spread the ball wide to the left with scrum-half Colin Morrow making plenty of ground but his pass to Al Boyd a few metres short was adjudged forward.
In the second period Nicholson again showed his skills but Harris missed a penalty from 30 metres into the swirling wind.
After 18 minutes, with Clare reduced to 14 men when Gary Weatherup was binned, Hinch had an overlap on the left with Nicholson and full-back Michael Carson involved before Donaldson crashed over for his second try. Harris kept his conversion attempt low and it cleared the bar for a 14-0 advantage.
Ballyclare never gave up and responded with an excellent move that led to a penalty try and Owen Jarvie being yellow carded. A delayed pass from replacement JJ Baird allowed Jonny Reid to break through but he was high tackled just short. Colin Morrow added the points.
But Hinch responded immediately when Harris drilled over a 28 metres penalty to secure victory.
Clare's Chris Coburn, who came on for Willie Logan, tackled hard and Rab Boyd and David Lawther also made their presences felt. For Hinch, hooker Conor Piper excelled being in the action most of the time and he was their man of the match.
Hinch coach Chris Parker said experience won the day. "Our defence was strong and we had the better of the line-outs and matched Ballyclare in the scrums. I think the experience of some of our team paid dividends but full credit to our opponents who kept going to the end."
Ballyclare: A Wardrop, P Morrow, J Reid, N Laughlin, J Greer, N Lawther, C Morrow, D Lawther, A Wylie, A Boyd, R Boyd (c), G McKinstry, J McKinstry, G Weatherup, W Logan. Replacements - I Holmes, M Finlay, C Coburn, JJ Baird, M Kirk
Ballymahinch II: M Carson, M Jarvie, D Nicholson, J Graham, J Grattan, D Harris, P Weir, C Stevenson, C Piper, S Orr, M McKeown, A Simpson, J McMullen, J Donaldson (c), D Chambers. Replacements - A Samuels, Z McCall, S Hanna, B McMullan, R Irvine
Referee: A Reavey