Armoy travelled to Strabane on Saturday to face Strabane II in the semi final of the Butler shield.
Traditionally encounters between these two teams are evenly contested affairs with this one proving to be no exception to the rule.
With so much at stake the opening exchanges were fraught with errors from both sides with players showing signs of nerves.
The game eventually settled and it was Armoy who were looking the most likely to break the deadlock with some good interlinking play between backs and forwards. However any good field position was ultimately squandered with the concession of penalties at crucial times.
This was eventually to prove costly with Strabane being awarded a penalty in front of Armoy’s posts for a ruck infringement. This was kicked over to put the home side into a three point lead.
It was a case of deja vu 10 minutes later as Strabane stretched their lead with another three points from a similar position following some Armoy indiscipline in the ruck.
The second half was again very evenly contested but Armoy always looked like the more like to score. The breakthrough eventually came and it came from a defensive position inside their own half.
The ball was kicked into the Armoy 22 and was gathered by second row Enda Casey who went on a rampaging run up the touchline. He was stopped just over the half way line and passed the ball out of the tackle to outside centre John Cassley who in turn went on a bullocking charge into the Strabane half. He made it to just outside the 22 where the ball was recycled out to inside centre Sammy McMullan who then went on the charge to the Strabane 5 meter line. He was brought down by 2 tacklers but popped the ball up to out half Scott Moffatt who cut a perfect line to evade the Strabane defenders and over for a try under the posts. The conversion was cooly slotted over by full back Craig Nesbitt to give Armoy a 1 point lead with 12 minutes left to play.
Armoy were in no mood to surrender this hard earned lead and repelled every Strabane attempt to regain the lead. Despite Strabane gaining good field position Armoy were focused on not giving away cheap penalties as they had done in the first half.
The only penalty that Armoy conceded in the closing stages was on their 10 meter line and the resulting kick never really made it off the ground and rolled out for a 22 drop out which was booted deep back into Strabane territory. They will now face Donaghadee III on April 11 in the final match of the 40th anniversary season.