IN their much anticipated semi-final game Dalriada bowed out of the Shield in a tightly contested game against last year’s School Cup winners Ballymena Academy.
The game remained close right up to 10 minutes to go and for the bounce of the ball the result may have been different.
With the School’s Cup referee Michael Black in charge, the game started at a impressive pace with both sides fierce in the tackle and able to keep possession of the ball.
The Academy’s line out was always going to prove difficult to poach with two ‘skyscraper’ locks. A first half converted try from Ballymena from a line out plus a John Laughlin penalty and Ben Henderson drop goal left the half time score very close, at 7-6.
Ballymena scored early and opened a gap. With the game still very tight, midway through the second half, a magnificent break from young Jack Magee could have made for a close finish, however it just wasn’t to be.
Now chasing the game and with dropping heads and the realisation that this was going to be the last game of rugby for many of the team on the home pitch, Dalriada allowed Academy to flatter the scoreboard towards the end.
It still remained an outstanding performance and clearly showed as has the season that Dalriada have a growing reputation and are clearly one of the top ten rugby teams in the province. Inevitably there is a lot of disappointment among the leaving pupils who feel they have no tangible reward for their efforts but they do leave with the reputation of being an exciting and entertaining team who play a brand of rugby that many feel is the right way for schoolboy teams to play.