Toon second best to derby rivals

HANDS ON. Action from the Crawford Cup final at Ravenhill on Easter Tuesday between Ballymoney 2nds and rivals Coleraine 2nds.INBM16-12 014SC.
HANDS ON. Action from the Crawford Cup final at Ravenhill on Easter Tuesday between Ballymoney 2nds and rivals Coleraine 2nds.INBM16-12 014SC.

Coleraine II proved too strong for their neighbours Ballymoney II in the Crawford Cup final at Ravenhill last Tuesday.

The Bannsiders scored three tries on route to lifting the cup for the first time since 2005 - their success overall, having first won it in 1982.

The victory was made all the sweeter for the Bannsiders after they were defeated by Armagh in the Ravenhill decider last year by Armagh.

It was Ballymoney’s first time contesting the final but they were unable to score in the 80 minutes due to wasting a number of opportunities and good defence from Coleraine.

Coleraine coach John Boyd was delighted with the result especially after the disappointment of last year.

“The boys have trained hard all year and obviously last year was a bit disappointing but they have learned from it, they have all up they game and this year they have got what they deserved, they have had a hard league campaign but have only lost three matches all season and those guys are a credit to Coleraine,” said Boyd.

“We knew what we were going to get with Ballymoney which was a hard physical battle and they should be proud of what they achieved this year because there was nothing between the two teams.”

Boyd was pleased with his side’s defensive effort as they conceded no points on route to lifting the cup.

“We have worked hard on defence because we have identified it as a weakness and in any game that is what we strive to do because if you don’t concede any points you can’t lost the game.”

“The boys worked hard and they tackled their hearts out against big hard running Ballymoney forwards and to come away on the right side of a nil is all you can ask for.”

Boyd was happy with the execution of Coleraine’s game plan which saw them score three tries at crucial times.

“Within ever game there are a number of wars and they took the war to us, we took our time and that was the plan to suck them in and then score out wide and that’s what we did.”

“There wasn’t many opportunities to score tries for either side but we took advantage of the good ball possession we had.”

It was a tense first quarter with both sides testing each other out but without really creating any clear cut openings.

Coleraine finally opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a long range penalty from left winger Alan Gourley.

The Bannsiders increased their lead two minutes later with a fine try from full back Paul Shields.

The move started in their own half as the backs spread the ball Shields popped up on the left wing and showed pace and power to go over from the 22 but Gourley badly sliced the conversion.

Ballymoney got a foot hold in the game during the last five minutes of the first half and crerated several chances but the Coleraine defence stood firm and they were unable to break through meaning the Bannsiders held an 8-0 lead at the interval.

Ballymoney started the second half brightly and should have opened their account when centre D Smyth broke from his own half , he hadn’t the pace to go all the way and fed his winger L Murphy but he didn’t have the pace to get over the line and Coleraine were able to turn the ball over and clear.

Coleraine’s second try arrived on 53 minutes, they patiently worked the ball trhough a number of phases close to the Ballymoney line on the right wing, they then injected pace into the move switching to the left wing and Gourley used his pace to squeezed over in the left hand corner but he was unable to convert his try from a tight angle.

Coleraine added a third try on 67 minutes.

Again it game from good ball retention before Shields came on the crash ball through the middle and was unable touse his pace to go under the posts making Gourley’s conversion a formality.

Ballymoney’s day was summed up in the last minute of the game.

They kicked a penalty into touch, from the lineout they put width on the ball but as full back J Campbell fed winger S McAuley he dropped the ball forward.

The game finished with Ballymoney earning a series of penalties which they had to tap but they still couldn’t find a way to score.

Coleraine II: P Shields, C McNay, R Naea, J McClelland, S Callaghan, M Griffth, P Roxborough, A Stirling, S Evans, P Brown, W Chestnutt, R Caskey, G Neel, H Tate, R Gibson, S Patterson, C Gowland, S Caithness, A Gourley, A Nevin, A Treacy, R Glover, G Blair, N Blair, R Smyth, G McCallum

Ballymoney II: J Campbell, S McAuley, D Smyth, C Clarke, L Murphy, D Calvin, S Nevin, M Blair, S Kyle, John Bellingham, R Clyde, M Allen, C Montgomery, Garvin Bellingham, James Bellingham

Replacements: J Brewster, D Watson, W Hezlett, T Skelton, M Dunlop.