Ballymena lost second spot in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League after losing 18-16 to the last kick of the game at Dublin University on Saturday.
The losing bonus point is scant consolation to a team which had given everything in the course of the eighty plus minutes, only to see what would have been a hard fought win snatched from their grasp at the death.
It was Ballymena who opened the score after 14 minutes with a Richie McMaster penalty, which was cancelled out by a similar effort from Trinity full back Conor Kearns.
McMaster restored the Ballymena lead with another penalty in the 24th minute, but three minutes later Trinity were awarded a penalty in a kickable position, but opted for the lineout to set up a catch and drive. It worked perfectly and Ballymena were unable to stop the surge, conceding a try, which was not converted to open up an 8-3 lead.
The highlight of the first half was Ballymena’s riposte in the form of a beautifully worked try, with Sean Taylor taking the final pass from Ricky Andrew and dotting down in the left corner. McMaster’s conversion from wide out completed the first half scoring, with Ballymena leading 13-8.
In a very physical game, Ballymena had the better of the things in the third quarter, and their superiority was rewarded with another McMaster penalty to stretch the lead to 16-8.
Shortly afterwards a yellow card reduced Ballymena to 14 men, and Trinity were awarded a penalty, which Kearns converted to reduce the visitors’ lead to five points.
Dogged Ballymena resistance stopped a wave of attacks until three minutes into injury time, Trinity pressure finally told and they finally crossed the Ballymena line half way out on the right to tie the scores at 16–16.
The conversion by full back Cairns was the last kick of the game, and Ballymena lost by 16-18.
With Armagh 1sts having no AIL game since before Christmas, they were able to field a strong team against Ballymena 2nds at the Palace Grounds.
Ballymena played into the strong breeze and determined defence kept the game scoreless at half time. Armagh took the lead early in the second half with a penalty and increased that to 10 points following some enterprising rugby which led to a converted try by their full back.
Ballymena dominated possession and territory in the last fifteen minutes and scored a fine try from centre Alan Smyth, who put in an impressive display in the centre. Final score 10-5 to Armagh.