HISTORIC WIN FOR CITY OF ARMAGH IN ULSTER SENIOR LEAGUE
City of Armagh First Fifteen travelled to play Ballynahinch for a mid-week Ulster Senior League fixture and turned in a tremendous performance to record their first ever victory over the home club in seventeen years.
On a cool, dry evening, Armagh started the match on the front foot and were rewarded with an early penalty after 5 minutes. Johnny Steenson slotted the kick between the posts to give the visitors an early boost. The whole Armagh team were putting Ballynahinch under pressure causing mistakes and although the home team had territorial advantage, the Armagh defence held firm. Ballynahinch missed a penalty kick after 20 minutes and they resorted to kicking two further penalties into the corner. The Armagh packs however, were on top form and turned over possession on both occasions. The back row of Morton, McCall and Atkinson were impressive, causing the opposition all sorts of problems.
On 39 minutes, Ballynahinch scored a controversial try from just inside their own half when one of their players received the ball while standing offside in the Armagh backline. The conversion was missed so the half -time whistle went with the home team holding a narrow 03 - 05 lead.
The second half began with Armagh having a slight breeze behind them and outhalf, Richard Reaney put in some terrific positional kicks keeping Ballynahinch pinned in their own half. Colin Atkinson had a great charge in the Ballynahinch 22 and was tackled just short of the line. A few minutes later the ball was passed out the backline and Andrew Willis picked up a loose pass and scored a terrific try at the corner flag.
This was converted superbly from the touchline by Johnny Steenson and Armagh were back in the lead at 10 points to 5. Impressive tackling by both forwards and backs negated numerous Ballynahinch attacks and a penalty was converted by Steenson to stretch Armagh’s lead to 05 - 13. Two more difficult kicks were missed by the full-back but a further success in the final quarter made the score 05 - 16.
With only 5 minutes remaining it looked like Armagh were going to hold on for a shock victory. The match however was far from finished and an exciting climax kept spectators on their toes.
On the stroke of full time, centre McBurney broke from the Ballynahinch 22 and a try resulted to the right of the Armagh posts to reduce the deficit to 10 - 16.
The conversion was missed but Ballynahich suddenly realized they could rescue the match and threw everything at the Armagh defence pinning them back in their 22.
A series of penalties were run as the home team needed a try and in the 49th minute the Armagh line was finally breached by the corner flag. With the score at 15 - 16, a conversion would win the game for the Hinch but McAleese was unsuccessful and the Armagh team were ecstatic as the final whistle finally blew.
A great all round team performance was the foundation for this historic victory by City of Armagh giving the team a great lift as the countdown to the All Ireland League continues.