Brilliant Ballynahinch dumped former winners Garryowen out of the AIB Cup to set up a mouth-watering final clash with Cork Constitution next month.
2008/09 AIB CUP SEMI-FINAL: Saturday, March 21
BALLYNAHINCH 24 GARRYOWEN 17, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Stuart Lamb, Kyle Corrigan, Aaron Ferris; Cons: Ryan Bambry 3; Pen: Ryan Bambry
Garryowen: Tries: Gerry Hurley, Diarmaid McCarthy; Con: Conor Kilroy, Gerry Hurley; Pen: Conor Kilroy
Ballynahinch, flying the flag for AIB League Division Two, beat a top flight team for the third round in succession as Garryowen joined fellow Division One outfits, Shannon and Galwegians, in falling to the County Down men.
A bumper crowd of over 2,000 spectators watched Derek Suffern’s underdogs pull clear of the Limerick heavyweights in an intriguing second half.
Ballynahinch made a solid start but Garryowen showed their class in the eighth minute when scrum half Gerry Hurley squirmed his way over after picking up from the base of a ruck.
Full-back Conor Kilroy converted that try and the hosts hit back immediately, stringing together some cohesive phases of play and coming close to scoring on two occasions.
‘Hinch managed to get back on terms on 27 minutes when their number 8 and captain Stuart Lamb surged past two tacklers and crossed for a very encouraging try. New Zealander Ryan Bambry added the conversion.
However, Garryowen, who played a refixed league game on St. Patrick’s Day, edged back ahead before half-time when Kilroy kicked a long range penalty after a knock on.
Nonetheless, Suffern’s men really tore into their opponents on the restart and they turned the game in their favour with tries after 46 and 50 minutes, going 21-10 up.
The first saw Garryowen caught for numbers out wide and Lamb passed for winger Kyle Corrigan to go over unopposed. Out-half Bambry kicked the extras.
Then, off quick lineout ball, Chris Napier made ground and Stuart Morrow straightened the attacking line before winger Aaron Ferris came up on his shoulder to take the scoring pass and glide over for the try.
Bambry converted and added a 67th-minute penalty for a shock 24-10 scoreline and Garryowen were running out of time.
Dara O’Sullivan’s charges did manage to claw a try back when young winger Diarmaid McCarthy scored in the left corner after a bout of intense forward pressure.
Hurley landed a terrific conversion from the touchline to give his side renewed hope at 24-17 but ‘Hinch deservedly hung on to complete another very impressive giant-killing act.