Toon Second XV’s Crawford Cup campaign continues

Ballymoney Seconds after their mudbath in Carrickfergus
Ballymoney Seconds after their mudbath in Carrickfergus

Ballymoney Second XV continued the Crawford Cup campaign away at Carrickfergus. In Junior League 2 this year, Carrick are sitting in third place, whereas Ballymoney Seconds are sitting in second place in the league below, so the visiting side knew that this cup match would be a tough one.

With a mostly settled side, manager Sam McAllister was able to add the exuberance of Garvin Bellingham to the bench on his return from his Aussie travails.

And Bellingham would not have known days like this for the past year - visible puddles all over the pitch dictating that a brutal effort would be required up front.

The tight forwards of McAneaney, Anderson, and Brown have been through the wars this year already, with Hewitt and Millar behind them to shore up the set piece. Andy McConville has enjoyed a run in the back row and continued alongside McCollum and McKeeman.

A largely settled back line saw baby Brown return to the centres alongside Nigel Nevin, and Pollock and Young continued in the halfback slots.

Captain Irwin was moved to fullback, so Barkley and Rea filled the wing positions. McIlrath and Pattison were on the bench alongside expat Bellingham.

And to a man the Toon side responded in full force, turning around at the break 10-0 up, and holding on to win 13 points to nil.

Captain Russell Irwin was last seen beaming from ear to ear once the mud washed off, ecstatic with the manner of victory, with all 18 players putting their bodies on the line to hold the defensive line intact. And to keep a side from the top end of the league above completely off of the scoreboard is a magnificent achievement both in defence and discipline.

Next week the Seconds visit Randalstown in the league, looking to extend the winning run.

Ballymoney just managed to hold on to the win in the home fixture in December, so a full commitment will be needed to win the return match.