Instonians serve up a hat-trick as three teams advance
It proved to be a successful weekend for Instonians as not only did the Firsts maintain their unbeaten run with a 13-6 McCrea Cup win over Belfast Harlequins II, the Thirds eliminated Inishowen 12-10 from the Forster Plate and the Seconds advanced in the Crawford Cup with a 24-19 victory over Ballymoney.
The Crawford Cup clash was a game of two halves with Inst having the better of the opening period to forge a 24-14 interval advantage before Ballymoney fought back to have the better of the second half exchanges.
Inst attacked from the start and came close but elected to take the penalty and Richard McCarthy was successful. They then knocked on at their opponents' line before conceding four penalties which led to a Ballymoney try when, following a couple of phases, hooker Joel Hegarty took the blind side to cross in the corner for Russell Irwin to goal.
The home team retorted immediately with their forwards Rab Brown, Charles Percy, Taylor Gillespie and Luke Cope much in evidence. They were held up twice over the visitors' line but the try had to come and Adam McCarthy was the scorer for brother Richard to convert.
The next followed after a burst of speed by Lewis Jones, the move being carried on by Chris McMenamy and Cope before Ross O'Donnell cut through for another converted try. They then conceded another penalty but stout defending led to Robbie Martin hacking through for O'Donnell to go in for his second to make it 24-7.
"We managed to claw back some of the deficit before half time," stated Ballymoney manager Sam McAllister. "It was just after they scored and following a number of tap penalties, eventually second row Nathan McCollum crashed over for Irwin to goal."
After the restart, Inst began to concede more penalties and in the 65th minute the referee had seen enough and Lewis Jones was binned. During his absence, Ballymoney added their third try when a pre-planned move led to Irwin touching down.
"It was all attack after this for a time but one thing we have is resilience and the pack defended magnificently," stated home coach Brian Barrett.
McAllister concluded: "It was a tie between two evenly matched sides. We gifted them the third try when we dropped the ball and they hacked through from our 10 metre line to go under the posts.
"Dave McKeeman was our man of the match with his aggressive play and Nathan McCollum in the second row worked hard around the fringes."
Crawford Cup results: Ballyclare II 15 Coleraine II 7, Dromore II 18 Ballynahinch IV 3, Carrickfergus II 18 Malone III 20, Limavady II 12 Banbridge III 17, Omagh III 19 Ballymena III 34, Omagh II 45 Ballynahinch V 14.