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Armagh surprise Banbridge to progress

 

By Ronnie Ingram

The only surprise in the First Trust Senior Cup quarter-finals was the 16-6 defeat of Banbridge by their more junior AIL opponents Armagh at Palace Grounds.

Malone, the holders Ballynahinch, and Ballymena also qualified for the semi-finals which will be played on November 18.

Malone, undefeated in AIL 2A, had a slow start against Dungannon but a dominant second half burst gave them a 32-10 lead before the visitors ran in two late tries to make the final score 32-24 at Gibson Park.

The home side were without Ulster A members Joe Dunleavy, Matthew Dalton, Jack Owens and Callum Smith, and also choosing to rest a couple of other players, went seven points down after five minutes when visiting centre Seamus Mallon intercepted to score for Chris Swash to goal.

Half an hour later, Mark O'Connor, playing on the wing, touched down in the corner before Swash added a penalty to give Dungannon a 10-5 interval advantage.

Coach Paddy Armstrong's half time talk worked wonders as Belfast's premier club intensified their efforts and O'Connor converted a Michael Shields try.

Then, 10 minutes later, following sustained pressure around the Dungannon line, which resulted in three scrum penalties, the referee awarded a penalty try.

Then within a five minute period, O'Connor added two penalties and substitute scrum-half Davy McMaster ran in from 30 metres out for the winger to convert.

In the final few minutes, the visitors scored two tries. Mervyn Brown intercepted around halfway to run in and with the last play Andrew McGregor crossed for Swash to convert both.

Ali Birch meanwhile, scored the only try in that Armagh 16-6 success over Banbridge while Ballynahinch accumulated five at Bangor in their 33-7 win.

Ballymena secured a 37-27 victory against Omagh but they were behind twice before securing a 24-22 interval advantage. Ballymena eventually scored six tries to their opponent's four.

"It was a game we could have won, but I have no complaints about the result," said Omagh coach Phil Marshall.

"Putting the game into perspective, we realise Ballymena had players representing Ulster A, they had injuries and may have been disjointed because of this, but we have also had significant injuries and unavailability ourselves.

"I got what I asked for out there which was a really good performance."

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