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Heron hails Malone after they pick up the league crown


Donaghadee clinched the Butler Shield

Donaghadee clinched the Butler Shield

Donaghadee clinched the Butler Shield

Malone III clinched the Junior 2 title with a 41-20 victory at Dungannon III but Bangor II chased them all the way.

The Gibson Park side still have two fixtures to complete their programme - at Ballynahinch IV on Saturday and then at Clogher Valley II.

They are undefeated all season with only a 6-6 draw against Bangor marring their record but in the reverse fixture at Upritchard Park, they emerged 31-6 victors.

"It was very satisfying to win the league and it was a great team effort combining youth and experience," explained coach Davy Heron.

"We were fortunate to have the services of former senior players Lee Barlow, Kenny Callidine, Richard Bartley and Gareth Miller playing on a regular basis and they helped bring on a number of last season's under-19s.

"These youngsters, like Calvin Murray, Euan Carson, Brendan Kearney and Chris Halliday, have progressed significantly with some outstanding performances and they will serve the club well in the future.

"When we started training last June we set out with the objective of returning to Junior 1 so we have achieved our ambition."

The contest at Stevenson Park was much closer than the scoreline would suggest.

Dungannon played hard right to the end and had improved considerably since the teams' 51-15 meeting in October. Knowing a win would clinch the title, Malone pressurised early and within four minutes winger Simon Miller crossed in the corner for Gareth Miller to convert.

Seven minutes later, constructive play by Euan Carson and Ben Halliday led to Colin Davidson finishing off the move.

The lead became 19 in as many minutes when full-back Miller cut through and added the points.

Dungannon struck back when Clive Wylie barged over but Malone centre Johnny Gregg and Gareth Miller touched down, one of which was goaled to make it 31-5 at the interval.

The third quarter belonged to Dungannon and they were justly rewarded with a second Wylie try and one from John Ross.

The visitors regrouped and big No 8 Lee Barlow charged in for his 20th try of the season but Dungannon had still not given up as Johnny Black scored their fourth try without any conversions. With two minutes remaining, Malone's Gareth Miller ran in from 40 metres out to score out wide.

Coach Heron added: "It's been a long haul and the commitment has been tremendous."

Belfast Telegraph