City of Armagh win maiden Senior Cup

20 DEC 2017 | BY CITY OF ARMAGH RUGBY CLUB

City of Armagh have won their first ever First Trust Senior Cup Final, thanks to a thrilling 17-13 win over Ballymena at Kingspan Stadium on Tuesday night.

City of Armagh, appearing in their first ever Senior Cup Final, came out of the blocks with plenty of early possession and almost crossed the whitewash on two occasions, only for last gap interventions by Ballymena fullback Rodger McBurney. The Ballymena men worked their way into the game, and an indiscretion at the breakdown from Armagh presented the first scoring opportunity on 16 minutes, but centre Callum Patterson’s penalty attempt from just outside the 10m line was pulled just to the left of the posts. A couple of minutes later Patterson had another opportunity from an almost identical position, and he made no mistake this time to get Ballymena off the mark. Armagh responded with another prolonged period with the opposition half, and eventually forced the penalty, which young out-half Cormac Fox confidently converted from the 22m line to level the sides. With half-time approaching Armagh lock Joshua McKinley made a superb break in the midfield to open up the Ballymena defence. The ball was recycled wide right and hooker Andrew Smyth made a dash for the line but was stopped inches short. Play was shifted to the opposite wing and fullback Timothy McNiece dived for the corner, but the cover tackle of Patterson dislodged the ball before McNiece could touch it down. Half-Time Score: 3-3. Armagh started the second-half where they had left off, applying early pressure, despite being down to 14 men as Robert Whitten was yellow carded just before the break. As the intensity in the game lifted, Ballymena began to put some structured phases together, and Patterson got the first try of the game on 58 minutes as he picked and drove over from close range, before adding the conversion to put his side 10-3 in front. On 64 minutes Patterson stretched the Ballymena lead to 13-3 with a well taken penalty. When Ballymena number 8 Adrian Hamilton saw yellow for a late tackle, Armagh made the most of the numerical advantage with two tries in the space of five minutes. Firstly, a driving maul carried them over, which Man of the Match Fox converted. Then replacement Thomas Campbell sniped in on right wing with a neat finish to put Armagh in front for the first time on 73 minutes, with Fox’s sideline conversion making it 17-13. In the final stages, Ballymena poured on the pressure in search of a try-winning score, but the Armagh men were not to be denied the historic win. With the SONI Ulster Premiership and the First Trust Senior Cup already secured, the Armagh 2nd XV are back at Kingspan Stadium on Thursday night to compete for the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup versus Ballynahinch 2nd XV. City of Armagh:

(1-8): Philip Matthews, Andrew Smyth, Philip Fletcher, Joshua McKinley, Robert Whitten, James Morton, Stuart Hooks, Neil Faloon; (9-15): Harry Doyle, Cormac Fox, Robert Faloon, John Faloon, Christopher Colvin, Ryan Purvis, Timothy McNiece. Replacements: Michael Hoey, Daryl Morton, James Hanna, Thomas Campbell, John Pollock. Ballymena:

(1-8): Bryan Young, James Taggart, Chris Cundell, David Whann, Connor Smyth, Stephen Mulholland, Marcus Rea, Adrian Hamilton; (9-15): David Shanahan, Glenn Baillie, Michael Stronge, Alan Smith, Callum Patterson,James Beattie, Rodger McBurney. Replacements: Andrew Ferguson, Houston Bonnar, Mark Foster, James Gallagher, Matthew Norris.

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