Ballymena Academy’s First XV panel travelled to Johnston House, on the outskirts of Dublin, for a three-day training camp last week.
The trip began a busy couple of months for the Galgorm Road boys, leading into the forthcoming Danske Bank Schools’ Cup campaign.
The culmination of the camp was a fixture against Clongowes Wood College, a school with a strong rugby tradition having produced Ireland internationals such as Rob and Dave Kearney and Gordon D’Arcy.
Both schools used extended squads for this game and Ballymena Academy were delighted to welcome back Ryan McKee and Joel Gocher, two players who had missed the entire 2014/15 season following knee surgeries.
The away team started sluggishly, allowing Clongowes to score an early unconverted try.
Ballymena enjoyed much of the possession as the half went on, but were guilty of careless mistakes when they got close to the Clongowes line.
Close to half-time, the early nerves were settled when the Balymena pack created a strong platform for Oisin Jordan to touch down. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score remained 5–5 until half time.
The second half was a more one-sided affair, with Ballymena Academy playing with real pace and accuracy. Azur Allison scored a try early in the second half and capped a fine individual performance with his second try later in the half.
Ballymena Academy captain, Marcus Rea, who was at the heart of much of the Ballymena Academy play, scored a deserved try and Bruce Houston, returning from a short-term injury, got his name on the scoresheet midway through the second half.
The try of the game was an outstanding team effort. Following carries from Alexander Clarke and Scott Agnew, centre Angus Kernohan ran a fantastic line and showed pace to finish below the posts.
Michael Stronge converted three of the second half tries to complete a 36-5 win for Ballymena Academy.
Ballymena Academy Squad: Thompson, Small, Kernohan, McKee, Cosgrove, Houston, Stronge; Forsythe, Clarke, Moody, McLeister, Browne, Rea (c), Jordan, Allison; Barkley, Martin, Agnew, Foster, Savoury, Gocher, Savage.
The midweek fixture proved extremely beneficial to Ballymena Academy as their weekend game fell victim to the weather.