Ballymoney go '˜fourth' and conquer
It was 'fourth' time lucky as Ballymoney Fourths finally overcame their runners up tag and brought the McCambley Cup back to Kilraughts road.
Team Captain John Waide, who had previously played in three finals, lifted the trophy to the delight of the large support who travelled down to the home of Ulster Rugby, at the Kingspan stadium.
Speaking afterwards Waide, was understandably delighted: “That was a tough game. Malone to their credit never gave up and made it a very exciting match.
“I knew that we had a very good team this season and the belief has been immense throughout our squad. Finally, to win this completion, I am overjoyed both for the team and the club.
“I again have to emphasize that it was a squad effort. Each team member played their part. I would also like to thank the huge support who made came down to cheer the team on, the noise was amazing and it really helped push us on when we needed it most”.
Ballymoney started off the brighter of the two teams, winning the early exchanges and testing the Malone defence. The sustained early pressure paid off as Sam McAuley powered his way over the line for the opening try for Ballymoney.
The early Ballymoney pressure continued and mid-way through the first half they were rewarded with their second try. This time it was second row Danny Platt who touched down. Ballymoney thought they had scored their third, however John Richmond was judged to have made a forward pass and the try was disallowed.
Malone finished the first half strongly though and were rewarded on the stroke of half time with a try of their own.
Malone continued into the second half, much as they had just left the first. The Ballymoney defence held up well and when they won the ball back, they looked dangerous on the counter attack. Only for a dropped ball or poorly executed final pass stopped them from edging further ahead.
Malone continued to fight back and were rewarded with a try mid-way through the second half to draw the match level at 10-10. Ballymoney soon responded and Sam McAuley ensured the men from the Toon were not going to relinquish the lead for long after he powered over for his second try of the game.
They continued to up the tempo and Sam Bartlett was next to add his name to the try list, crossing the white line after some clever juggling with the ball. Ryan Brace adding the conversion.
Malone never gave up and made the final few minutes of the game a nail biting climax when their second row scored a try. Ballymoney however were not to be denied and held on a famous victory and this team creating a little bit of history for the club
The party went on late into the evening at Kilraughts road. The Fours, also crowned league winners in the last week, now prepare themselves for the Ravenhill Cup which is contested between all the winners of the minor leagues.