Garryowen took full advantage of Cork Constitution’s slip-up at Blackrock to move to the top of the AIB League Division One table, with just two full rounds of matches remaining.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, March 28
GARRYOWEN 45 BALLYMENA 7, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Garryowen: Tries: Lorcan Bourke, David Sherry, Willie Staunton, Kevin Hartigan 2, Neville Melbourne; Cons: Conor Kilroy 2, Willie Staunton; Pens: Conor Kilroy 3
Ballymena: Try: Craig Woods; Con: Craig Woods
The Limerick side eased to their tenth straight league win, going on a six-try scoring blitz against a greatly under-strength Ballymena side at Dooradoyle.
The bonus point victory has moved Dara O’Sullivan’s men to the summit, ahead of Blackrock and former leaders and defending champions Cork Con.
Visitors Ballymena had a debutant in the second row in John Andrews and they also had to play a regular back rower in the centre because they were short nine regulars including skipper Ian Caldwell.
Garryowen struck for their first try after only three minutes when winger Lorcan Bourke raced in at the right corner.
A superb bit of play involving six players ended when David Sherry barged in near the posts for try number two, which Conor Kilroy converted.
Garryowen’s experienced full-back then landed a difficult penalty to make it 15-0.
Ballymena briefly raised their hopes when Craig Woods gathered a bouncing ball and touched down after good play by Jamie Smith and John Nichol.
Woods converted the try but that was as good as it got for the Braidmen as Garryowen took a firm grip with two more Kilroy penalties.
Four minutes before half-time, Willie Staunton raced through a yawning defensive gap for a try which Kilroy converted to make it 28-7 at the break.
A delightful cross-field kick by Staunton sent centre Kevin Hartigan in for a try after 58 minutes. Kilroy hit the upright with the conversion attempt.
Harigan had another try after 66 minutes and a minute from the end Neville Melbourne grabbed the sixth and final touchdown, which Staunton converted for good measure.