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Ballynahinch left with a bitter taste after Clontarf defeat

By Michael Sadlier

They just needed a home win to make the Division 1A play-offs, but Ballynahinch's season ended in huge disappointment as their 33-18 defeat by Clontarf robbed them of their hoped for prize.

Indeed, Hinch's first AIL reverse of the campaign at Ballymacarn Park could hardly have come at a more deflating time and especially so against Clontarf who could not actually improve on their third place in the table.

As things turned out, Hinch slumped from fourth to seventh as the Dubliners followed up last month's Bateman Cup semi-final victory at the Co Down side's fortress with an even more impressive effort this time.

Hinch never really got going and were 12-0 down early on and though they fought back, Derek Suffern's squad found themselves trailing 17-8 at the turnaround.

The home side managed another 10 points in the second half - with Stephen McCauley, Rodger McBurney and Michael Graham getting their names on the scoreboard - but Clontarf were just too strong and it was Young Munster who took fourth after seeing off Lansdowne, who had already booked a home semi-final by finishing top.

Elsewhere, Division 1B's sides were just going through the motions with Ballymena having already secured fourth and ending their campaign by whacking Buccaneers 45-0.

The Braidmen scored seven tries as a campaign which had once offered them a chance of promotion came to an end at Eaton Park.

Already relegated Malone also managed to sign off in the top flight with a rare but meaningless victory at Gibson Park as they prevailed on a 37-34 scoreline over Shannon.

However, fifth-placed Belfast Harlequins were seen off 41-20 at Dublin University where the students were still chasing the possibility of a shot at promotion, though Garryowen's losing bonus point at Galwegians dashed those hopes.

How it finished: Division 1A play-offs: Lansdowne v Young Munster; Terenure v Clontarf. Relegation play-off: St Mary's College v Garryowen. Relegated: Dolphin

Ballynahinch finish in seventh.

Division 1B: Promoted: Galwegians. Promotion play-off: St Mary's v Garryowen. Relegated: Malone and Corinthians.

Ballymena finish in fourth, Belfast Harlequins fifth and Malone ninth.

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