City of Armagh have won the Bank of Ireland Senior Cup for the third year running after defeating Ballynahinch by 38-34 in a pulsating, topsy-turvy game of rugby on Friday evening.

Both sides started the game with intentions of moving the ball wide and it wasn’t long until Ballynahinch spotted an opportunity through an Aaron Cairns break, setting up their number eight, Conal Boomer to score under the posts. Greg Hutley was successful with the conversion.

Armagh responded just a few minutes later, when Cormac Fox made a wonderful cross-field kick out to full-back Shea O’Brien, and scrum-half, Gerard Treanor picked up and stretched out an arm to score to the left of the Hinch posts. Cormac Fox levelled the score with the conversion.

Armagh’s tails were up, and spent a spell on Ballynahinch’s line, before a dominant Armagh scrum gave referee Peter Martin no option but to award a penalty try.

Hinch quickly came back through a Ross Adair score, evading a couple of Armagh defenders with his strong running on his way in. A tricky conversion attempt for Hutley bounced off the left post.

Armagh’s scrum once again proved to bear fruit, when they forced a penalty from a kickable position, which Cormac Fox obliged, extending their lead.

Excellent breakdown work by Ballynahinch soon earned themselves a penalty, Greg Hutley firing over a superb long-range kick to narrow the deficit to two for the side from Ballymacarn Park.

Momentum was now shifting towards Ballynahinch, when winger George Pringle squeezed through a gap in the Armagh defence around the fringes, running a fantastic line to score under the posts. Hutley made no mistake with the extras.

Half-time score: City of Armagh 17 Ballynahinch 22

Hinch continued as they left off in the second half. Winger Paddy Wright made a searing initial break, and a series of pick-and-goes led to Marcus Rea collecting the ball off the floor and diving over to score. The left post for the second time kept out Hutley’s conversion attempt.

Armagh replied through an excellent running line from outside centre Christopher Colvin, sending winger Andrew Willis in to score. Fox made good with the conversion.

Ballynahinch dealt with a period of Armagh attacking exceptionally well, defending mauls and forcing turnovers in dangerous areas of the field; their number eight Conal Boomer proving incredibly troublesome for Armagh.

Armagh’s full-back, Shea O’Brien created an incredible solo try, chipping the ball over the Ballynahinch defensive line, collecting it on the bounce and bounding in under the posts. Fox was accurate with the conversion.

The game wasn’t over yet. Ballynahinch’s full-back, Ross Adair made a solo try of his own, handing off an Armagh defender and throwing a couple of dummies as he ran in to score and re-take the lead. Sean O’Hagan slotted over the extras.

The game wasn’t decided until deep into injury time, when, after a period of Armagh pressure, Player-of-the-Match, Shea O’Brien weaved his way through the narrowest of spaces to score what was the decisive try, Cormac Fox making the conversion.

Full-time score: City of Armagh 38 Ballynahinch 34
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