With one fixture remaining, a place in the prestigious All-Ireland Junior Cup beckons for Ballyclare, but Portadown or Omagh could still spoil the party.
With 46 points in the bag the odds favour Gary Weatherup’s men, but if either of their two main rivals secure two bonus wins and Ballyclare get nothing from their trip to Upritchard Park the locals could be up-staged at the wire.
Ballyclare secured a convincing 28-15 win at Portadown on Saturday. Stuart Cusick got his side off to a flying start when his superb line carved through the cover for a second minute try that Smith goaled.
When Gary Clotworthy was sin-binned for a clumsy tackle, the home side reduced the deficit from the resultant penalty, but Smith cancelled this one out with a fine kick via the upright.
The hosts then levelled the scores with a converted try, but Ballyclare went in 15-10 up when Smith was the first to react to his penalty hitting the upright. He grabbed the ball and dived over for an unconverted score.
Two Smith penalties stretched the lead to 11 points, but Ports’ hopes were revived with an unconverted score in the corner.
In the final stages Clark’s break led to Baird crossing for a score that Smith converted to make his personal contribution 18 points.
Denying Portadown a losing bonus point could yet prove crucial in the A I Junior Cup countdown.
Ballyclare’s remaining fixture against leaders Bangor will be played at Upritchard Park tonight (Thursday) with a 7.45 pm kick-off, owing to Bangor being involved in the Towns Cup on Easter Monday afternoon.