Ballyclare into final

Ballyclare's Owen Kirk goes over for one of his two tries against Armagh
Ballyclare's Owen Kirk goes over for one of his two tries against Armagh

Deep RiverRock Towns’ Cup holders Ballyclare will return to Kingspan Stadium on Easter Monday to continue the defence of the title when they meet Enniskillen in this year’s domestic showpiece.

Both came through closely contested semi-finals.

Ballyclare made home advantage count as they again accounted for City of Armagh II - they met in the penultimate stage last year - with a 20-15 success.

In the West, the derby clash between Clogher Valley and Enniskillen as also a nip and tuck affair.

But it was the Fermanagh side who prevailed with a late score to make their return to Belfast for the final on April 22 on a 21-17 scoreline.

Armagh had good territory in the early stages against Ballyclare, however little handling errors with the wet ball and wind gave scrums to Ballyclare and a chance to clear the threat.

A long kick downfield towards touch from Ballyclare, failed to reach the target.

Armagh passed in field to their full back Kyle Faloon who set off on a run from his own half.

The evasive runner dodged tackle attempts to break through the Ballyclare line and ran in to score the game’s opening try, which went unconverted

A penalty kick to touch gave Ballyclare a lineout on the edge of the Armagh ‘22’.

Maintaining possession the ball was passed out the backs, a superb line break by Niall Lawther led to the out half being stopped in the shadow of the posts.

With a miss pass the ball was moved quickly from the breakdown to right wing Owen Kirk who went over in the right corner to pull Ballyclare level. 5-5

Midway through the first half Armagh were just wide a penalty attempt at the posts but were successful with another on the half hour mark to retake the lead.

Ballyclare were exerting pressure inside the Armagh half and forced Armagh into conceding a penalty at a ruck. Gary Clotworthy converted the kick, from just outside the ‘22’ to tie the scores again.

With halftime approaching Armagh retook the lead when they were quicker to react to a ball that spilled from a ruck between the Ballyclare 22 and 10 metre line.

The loose ball was scoped up by Armagh and run in to score under the posts.

The conversion gave Armagh a 15-8 half time lead, in what had been a highly competitive cup match.

Another break by Lawther set Ballyclare on the attack deep in Armagh territory early in the second half, Owen Kirk powered over in the right corner again to score his second try of the afternoon, the conversion from wide was just missed.

Ballyclare who had played on Tuesday night showed no signs of fatigue in the second period.

Centres Willie Stewart and Joel McBride worked hard in attack and defence as Ballyclare hunted for another score.

Rotation of players off the bench saw Robbie Reid take the field and it wasn’t too long before the fresh legged creative centre found a gap in the Armagh defence to dart in and score between the posts.

Adding the conversion, Reid’s seven points gave Ballyclare a 20-15 lead.

Armagh forced play inside the Ballyclare half as the clock ticked down but the Ballyclare defence held strong to the final whistle.