Ballynahinch rounded off a spectacularly successful season when they turned in a sparkling second half performance to beat last year’s winners UCC in the AIB League Division Two final at Dooradoyle.
2008/09 AIB LEAGUE DIVISION TWO FINAL: Saturday, May 9
BALLYNAHINCH 28 UCC 21, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Tries: Jonny Cullen, Aaron Ferris, Nevin Spence, Neil Hanna; Con: Ryan Bambry; Pens: Ryan Bambry 2
UCC: Tries: Ivan Dineen, Wayne Falvey; Con: Gavin Dunne; Pens: Gavin Dunne 2; Drop: Gavin Dunne
The all-conquering County Down side completed a stunning quadruple of senior competition wins, adding the Division Two play-off trophy to the Ulster Senior Cup, Ulster Senior League and AIB Cup.
Derek Suffern’s men, minus their suspended captain Stuart Lamb and five other frontliners, came from 21-12 down to stun table-toppers UCC into submission and chalk up their 16 straight win in all competitions.
The Cork students made the perfect start with a try after only six minutes by outside centre Ivan Dineen which Gavin Dunne converted.
Seven minutes later, ‘Hinch got on terms when full-back Jonny Cullen raced in for a try which New Zealand out-half Ryan Bambry added the extras to.
Hooker Wayne Falvey was driven over for a try to put UCC back in front and as the relentless pace continued, ‘Hinch winger Aaron Ferris nipped in at the corner to make it 12-12.
A drop goal and two penalties by out-half Dunne had Conor Twomey’s defending champions 21-12 in front and they seemed to be cruising when ‘Hinch had a player sin-binned after 37 minutes.
Just on half-time, Bambry landed a penalty to give the Ulster side hope for the second half.
Few could have imagined that UCC would be held scoreless for the remainder of the game and a try by ‘Hinch hooker Neil Hanna, three minutes into the second half, proved crucial.
Bambry failed to convert that try but he landed a penalty soon after and ‘Hinch, in their 38th game of an exhaustive season, went for the kill.
On 58 minutes their nippy centre Nevin Spence scored a superb try.
The Ireland Under-20 Development player gained possession just inside his own half, slipped between two defenders and raced away for a try worthy of winning any final.
BALLYNAHINCH: Jonny Cullen (capt); Aaron Ferris, Nevin Spence, David Nicholson, Niall McBriar; Ryan Bambry, Harry McAleese; Chris Stevenson, Neil Hanna, Jerry Cronin, John Gunson, Chris Napier, Philip Orr, Michael Graham, Ryan McBride.
Replacements used: Lewis Johnston for McBride (48 mins), David McGregor for Orr (53).
UCC: Scott Deasy; Peter Shallow, Ivan Dineen, Alex Kelleher, Colin Crowley; Gavin Dunne, Sam Cronin (capt); Ron O’Neill, Wayne Falvey, Stephen Archer, Neilus Keogh, Ian Nagle, David O’Callaghan, Shane O’Sullivan, Rob Barry.
Replacements used: John Moynihan for Archer, Will O’Donovan for Falvey, James Ryan for O’Sullivan (all 60 mins), Danny Barnes for Crowley (67).
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)