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Shannon Edge It At Eaton Park

Shannon Edge It At Eaton Park

Shannon slugged it out with Ballymena in wet and windy conditions at Eaton Park, holding on for a hard-fought 7-6 win which keeps the Limerick side in second position in AIB League Division One.

AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, March 7

BALLYMENA 6 SHANNON 7, Eaton Park

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Scorers: Ballymena: Pens: Craig Woods 2
Shannon: Try: Stephen Kelly; Con: Tadhg Bennett

The conditions turned this game into a mud bath as it wore on and in the end, a 22nd-minute converted try from winger Stephen Kelly was enough to give the visitors the spoils.

Shannon made good ground, midway through the opening half, with prop Killian O’Neill making a slashing run through the heart of the Ballymena defence.

The Shannon forwards secured quick ruck ball and after some neat play from Fionn McLoughlin, Kelly was able to chip over the top and win the race to the ball for a well-worked try.

Tadhg Bennett swung the conversion over the right but that was as good as it got in terms of precision attacking from Shannon.

With Ballymena pressed back into their own half, Geoff Moylan’s side looked for further tries. Poor passing saw one opportunity go a-begging and soon after Kelly knocked on as he tried to gather another chip ahead.

Ballymena opened their scoring account on the stroke of half-time when scrum half Craig Woods bisected the posts with a penalty.

Shannon turned around with the wind at their backs and missed an immediate scoring chance when a Bennett penalty attempt bounced off the crossbar and back into play.

With try-scoring chances at a premium, it was left to the place-kickers to decide the game.

Woods missed his next attempt at the posts and Shannon’s David O’Donovan was also off target from a kick just inside his own half.

With time running out, Woods nailed a 68th-minute penalty effort to close the gap to a single point and set up a grandstand finish between these former league champions.

Ballymena’s pack built up a head of steam in the closing ten minutes and some good continuity and work around the fringes got them within scoring range.

They set up a drop goal attempt for their out-half Tommy Woods but the New Zealander sent his kick wide of the uprights and Shannon, thanks to some gritty defending in the dying minutes, held on for the win.