Rugby men’s promotion hopes now rest upon play-offs

Two tries from David Shanahan weren't enough to prevent defeat for Ballymena at Dublin University. Picture: Press Eye.
Two tries from David Shanahan weren't enough to prevent defeat for Ballymena at Dublin University. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena’s hopes of promotion to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League with rest upon winning the play-offs.

Saturday’s 34-19 defeat at Dublin University means Andy Graham’s side can no longer achieve automatic promotion.

Early in the season Ballymena had inflicted a 35-24 defeat on Trinity, but even at that stage ir was clear that were a very good side, and they proved that in College Park on Saturday by beating Ballymena comprehensively, scoring six tries in the process. The first came early on when they executed a catch and drive perfectly and mauled Ballymena over the line for a try, the touchdown accredited to lock Jack Burke. The conversion was missed, as were three other conversion attempts in the course of the game.

Trinity continued to look the more impressive side, and no. 8 Tom Ryan notched up another try off a five metre scrum, again not converted, and centre Seb Fromm added to Ballymena’s woes by shrugging aside some pretty ineffectual tackling to score under the posts. The conversion made the score 17-0, but a sustained Ballymena attack,, rounded off by some sharp handling, put Rodger McBurney over for a try far out on the left. McMaster converted, to make the score at the break 17-7.

The second half began with Trinity once more pressing hard, and after an initial incision by right wing Maupin, out half McDermott scored his side’s bonus point try. At 27-7 in arrears Ballymena’s cause looked lost, but a purple patch of twenty minutes yielded two Shanahan tries and brought them to within eight points of Trinity at 27-19, and an amazing recovery looked possible, but the Trinity defence held firm and a last minute try by replacement Slater and conversion put the game out of reach.

This defeat doesn’t change the league table a great deal. Unless something unforeseen happens Ballymena will finish third in Division 1B, and will meet the second placed team in the play off semi final.