Ballymoney grab a narrow win at Kilraughts Road against Donaghadee
A narrow win but this was a battling display by Ballymoney.
With Rhys and Kyle McAuley both available, James Campbell moved back into the 10 jersey, and Nigel Nevin returned to fullback. Up front Matthew Blair got a start, and the second row pairing of Clyde and Mulholland continued where they left off.
In such inclement conditions, this was never going to be a classic. And so it proved, with neither side able to sustain possession and a series of scrums dominating the opening exchanges.
Donaghadee were having the better of the first half though, with Jonny Hanna defying the odds to make a couple of try saving tackles.
But ‘Dee were first on the board with a try in the corner after a rare sustained period of pressure.
That seemed to wake Ballymoney up a little, and some shoots of recovery became evident - Clyde making a break up the middle but unable to find enough support to finish off.
Kicking was tough with both sides missing a couple of chances before half time. But in the second half James Campbell found his range and converted two chances for a narrow lead, 6-5 after 50 minutes.
Both sides were edgy at this point; a wave of relief went round the ground as ‘Dee missed a kickable penalty.
For the next 10 minutes, Ballymoney were able to sustain some pressure.
Eventually, Neal Mulholland added to his try tally with a short range effort after a series of picks near the line. 11-5 Ballymoney, and a bit of breathing room.
With Donaghadee stepping the pressure back up, Ballymoney’s defense started to come to the fore.
David Campbell and Garvin Bellingham were disrupting ball to great effect, and the centres McAuley and Cleland were absorbing any attempt to go wide.
With Dee attacking in the final minutes, both fly-halves were sent to the bin.
But that was to prove the last significant play as the Toon held on to win 11-5. David Campbell was awarded man of the match for his defensive efforts.
A good win, given the conditions, and a few more league points. Donaghadee continue in the mix at the bottom of the table, and with the prospect of two sides going down this year, they will need to pick up another couple of wins to be safe.
Ballymoney host UUC next week, in a match that is always a lot more difficult than the students’ league position would suggest. A fourth place finish with a spot in the All-Ireland Junior Cup is still a possibility, but there are still a lot of games left to play.