Ballymena duo help Ireland sides to famous wins

Luke Marshall helped Ireland to a famous victory in South Africa. Picture: Press Eye
Luke Marshall helped Ireland to a famous victory in South Africa. Picture: Press Eye

Ballymena’s two rugby players on international duty today helped their respective Ireland teams to famous victories.

Luke Marshall’s first start for the full Ireland team in two years proved a memorable one as Joe Schmidt’s side won the first of their three Test series in South Africa by 26 points to 20.

Adam McBurney helped Ireland under-20s defeat New Zealand. Picture: INPHO.

Adam McBurney helped Ireland under-20s defeat New Zealand. Picture: INPHO.

Marshall was involved in Ireland’s opening score when his clever grubber kick was collected by Jared Payne to score the first try.

Ireland’s victory at Newlands was all the more remarkable given that they played almost three-quarters of the game with 14 men after flanker CJ Stander was red-carded.

Ireland will have the chance to clinch the three-match series in Johannesburg next Saturday before the final Test in Port Elizabeth a week later.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Ballymena’s Adam McBurney played a key role as Ireland under-20s produced another remarkable performance at the under-20 World Championships in England.

Hooker McBurney scored a try for the second game in succession as the boys in green beat New Zealand for the first time ever at under-20 level with a stunning 33-24 victory in Manchester.

Earlier in the game, the Cromkill man had been sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on offence but when he returned to the pitch, he produced a superb response when he broke free, barged past an All Black opponent and scored in the corner.