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Armagh toast successive title joy after seeing off brave Malone

Malone 14-21 City of Armagh

By Ronnie Ingram

City of Armagh successfully defended their SONI Ulster Premiership title as they defeated nearest challengers Malone 21-14 at Gibson Park to make it back-to-back championship wins.

With both teams having already earned promotion to Division 1B of the All-Ireland League next season, this was the Ulster Premiership decider and Armagh deserved to retain their title.

Malone had needed a bonus point win to clinch the Stevenson Trophy, while they also needed to deprive their opponents of a point.

On the night, the weather deteriorated and it was Armagh who adapted better to the wind and rain at Gibson Park.

Malone went in front after 10 minutes when full-back Mark O'Connor broke through to score for Rory Campbell to add the points.

Armagh stormed back to level after 21 minutes when forward pressure resulted in No.8 Robbie Whitten crashing over from five metres out.

The ever reliable Cormac Fox added the conversion, as he did when winger Andrew Willis rounded off a good move by sprinting over just before the interval.

After the restart, the home forwards started to gain the upper hand and took up a position close to their opponent's line.

They won a couple of five metre scrums before the referee decided that another infringement warranted a penalty try.

So the Belfast team were back on level terms, but they still needed a win and two more tries to wrestle the trophy away from their visitors.

However, the champions elect settled and took play back up into Malone territory where, eight minutes from the finish, their second row McKinley barged over to put the issue beyond doubt and secure the silverware.

Belfast Telegraph

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