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Omagh drawing closer to moment of title glory

Ballynahinch III may have qualified for the Crawford Cup final against Queen's III but their hopes of winning Junior 1 suffered a major set-back when they could only draw with Omagh II 13-13.

The Co Tyrone team have only this draw to mar their League record whereas Hinch lost against them 25-19 early in the season.

At present Omagh have 29 points from 15 fixtures and their rivals have 25 from 14 so the Co Down team will be hoping that Omagh slip up in their final games.

That is most unlikely as the three teams they face are all at the bottom of the table.

"We took the lead with an Andrew Allen penalty but we had problems against the bigger and more powerful Hinch forwards," commented Omagh coach James Kane.

Hinch came back after 15 minutes of pressure when Johnny Murdock crashed over after they had been held up over their opponent's line. Omagh had control for the remainder of the half and earned a second Allen penalty.

They played into the wind in the second half and contained Hinch inside their 22 before Michael Gibson sidestepped and cut through the defence to score, for Allen to convert.

It was then the turn of Hinch to up their game and Robbie Irvine reduced the arrears with a penalty.

Towards the close they had more penalties but elected to go for a winning try but failed and it was left to Irvine to level the score in the final two minutes.

Kane now feels that the title is theirs to lose. "This would be our first title for 17 years so we have been treating every game as a Cup final," said Kane.

"We knew that a draw or better was needed against Hinch so we put our hearts and souls into the game.

"Both teams were well drilled and we had to dig deep to keep them out."

Andy Glenn, the Hinch captain, thought it was a challenging contest between two equally talented teams.

Glenn said: "It was really physical and I must say that they have been the only team in Junior One that have given us a real challenge this season.

"We played well in the line-outs and scrums and I think we gave the large crowd some entertaining rugby. We have four games to play and know we must win them all in case Omagh lose one of their three."

Belfast Telegraph