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CIYMS have the edge in real thriller

By Jonathan Bradley

Dromore were narrowly defeated by a Qualifying One title-contender for the second game in succession after they suffered an 11-9 reverse at the hands of CIYMS at Belmont.

Having been beaten by Portadown in controversial circumstances a fortnight ago, the Co Down side once again put in a spirited showing but a second half try from Gavin Woods ensured Graham Cloke's side bounced back from last week's comprehensive defeat to Enniscorthy in the All-Ireland Junior Cup.

After the victory, CI captain Stuart Fergusson was pleased with his side's performance despite the workmanlike nature of the victory.

"A win is a win no matter what way you look at and we're always glad to just get the four points.

"They're a very tight team so it was always going to be like that and they did very well at disrupting our game," commented the hooker.

"It wasn't a day for the backs and that was a real arm-wrestle out there all afternoon.

"It was massively important for us to come back with a win this week after we let the occasion get to us in our last game so we really needed to knuckle down and get a result."

An early penalty from Dromore stand-off Ryan Cobb had given his side a three-point advantage and they looked set to add to that scoreline when CI loose forward Ross Hackney was binned for straying offside.

The home side remained resolute however, and indeed levelled matters just before Hackney returned to the fray with a penalty from Matthew McCormick.

CI were frustrated on a number of occasions after having attacks curtailed by the referee's whistle and found themselves trailing at the break when Cobb added another three points in the 39th minute.

The east Belfast side improved in the second half, beginning to move through phases in attack shortly after the restart, and appeared set to tie the scores with a penalty from inside the Dromore 22 but a rare miscue off the tee from the usually reliable McCormick kept the deficit at three points.

As such, it was not until the 51st minute when they took their first lead of the day when Woods forced his way over the line following determined carries from Fergusson and Mark Scott.

McCormick could not add the extras from the left side of the posts but, now holding a two point lead, last season's runners-up seemed set to pull away.

A Dromore offside, which given the sin-binning of Hackney in the first half must have had the referee pondering a card, gave CI a penalty in an advanced position but a knock-on from the strong-running Steven McReynolds ended the attack.

Matt Armstrong, on as a substitute for Mark Scott, was providing an enthusiastic kick chase and, after he pressured Blair McDonald into spilling a high ball, CI produced a solid scrum to keep possession.

Dromore were whistled at the following breakdown and McCormick took the opportunity to extend his side's lead to five points.

However, as the game neared its conclusion, Cobb responded with a penalty of his own to set up a tense finish.

The visitors had chances to take a late lead but CI held firm, with full-back Robin Brown's forceful tackle on a rampaging Gareth Fitzpatrick quelling one threatening attack.

There was one final opportunity when an accurate kick to the corner pinned CI back deep in their own territory but Fergusson's lineout throw proved accurate at the most vital of moments and an effective rolling maul from the home side allowed the pack to carry the ball away to safety.

The game ended on a sour note, though, with a seemingly serious leg injury to Cobb and Dromore will be hoping their influential out half is not out of action for long.

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