10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
GALWEGIANS 17 BALLYMENA 16, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: Dave Nolan, John Cleary; Cons: Dave Clarke 2; Pen: Dave Clarke
Ballymena: Tries: Tommy Seymour; Con: Luke Marshall; Pens: Luke Marshall 3
Galwegians lifted the Des Dempsey trophy, which is played for when the two clubs meet, as tries from lock Dave Nolan and winger John Cleary helped them notch their sixth win of the Division 1B campaign.
The home side had plenty of chances but were only 7-0 to the good at half-time. Back from injury, Nolan crowned his first start in this season's league with a 13th minute try, after being put clear by number 8 Ambrose Conboy.
Centre Dave Clarke smacked over a tremendous conversion from the touchline but neither side could penetrate the respective defences over the remainder of the first half.
'Wegians struggled off restarts in the second period and Ballymena showed a clinical edge. From a scrum in midfield, they moved the ball right to set up a try for winger Tommy Seymour which out-half Luke Marshall converted.
The Braidmen seemed to have the momentum at this stage but Galwegians moved back in front in the 50th minute.
A charging run from lock Liam Scahill tied up the defence and an overlap was created for Cleary to ghost in behind the posts. Clarke added the extras for a 14-7 scoreline.
Ballymena hit back again, winning three penalties in the space of five minutes. Marshall kicked two of them to reduce the arrears to 14-13.
At a vital stage, the visitors coughed up a penalty and back chat brought it ten metres closer to their goal. Clarke stepped up to plant the ball between the uprights and strengthen 'Wegians' advantage, before scrum half Kieran Campbell was sin-binned.
Marshall nailed his third successful penalty, soon after, to heap the pressure back on the hosts.
But Kevin Tierney's charges were equal to it and a series of pick and goes saw them wind down the clock and hang on to finish on the right side of a tight result.
GALWEGIANS: Liam Bibo; Tiernan O'Halloran, Brian Murphy, Dave Clarke, John Cleary; Ross Shaughnessy, Kieran Campbell; Ja Naughton, Conor Muldoon, Ronan Loughney, Liam Scahill, Dave Nolan, Eoin McKeon, Ivan Muldoon (capt), Ambrose Conboy.
Replacements: Jamie Stephens, Ross Fitzgerald, Brian McClearn, Ronan Dillon, Rob O'Beirn.
BALLYMENA: Roger McBurney; Peter Budina, Kyle Moore, Ian Whitten, Tommy Seymour; Luke Marshall, David O'Hara; James Carson, Ryan Fisher, Simon Shawe, Darrell O'Kane, Bob Young, Paul Smyth, Willie McKay, Sam McKinney (capt).
Replacements: Gareth Fisher, James Taggart, Andrew Warwick, Andrew Kerr, Ross Hackney.
Referee: David Keane (IRFU)