Ballynahinch lost their grip on the AIB Cup title, going down 18-16 to last season’s runners-up Cork Constitution in Saturday’s second round clash at Ballymacarn Park.
AIB CUP SECOND ROUND: Saturday, October 18
BALLYNAHINCH 16 CORK CONSTITUTION 18, Ballymacarn Park
Scorers: Ballynahinch: Try: David Harris; Con: Ryan Bambry; Pens: Ryan Bambry 3
Cork Constitution: Tries: Peter O’Mahony, Richie Lane; Con: Richie Lane; Pens: Richie Lane 2
With memories of last season’s final win over Cork Con flooding back, Ballynahinch made a great start when out-half Ryan Bambry converted two long range penalty goals.
Cork Con hit back with a Richie Lane penalty goal in the 10th minute after the home side strayed offside in front of their posts.
Despite the near perfect conditions, the sides failed to get any rhythm into their game with poor discipline and handling from both turning the game into a bit of a damp squib.
New Zealander Bambry was on target with a third penalty attempt in the 31st minute, taking the defending champions 9-3 clear but ‘Hinch went to sleep four minutes later, gifting the Corkmen a soft try.
Constitution had taken play deep into the ‘Hinch half and almost made it over in the left hand corner, Ireland Under-20 starlet Nevin Spence producing a tremendous try-saving tackle.
‘Hinch had a lineout on their five-metre line but the ball failed to reach its target and was taken at the front of the lineout by Cork Con flanker Peter O’Mahony who was driven over for the score.
Lane added the conversion, which went over off a post, to take Brian Walsh’s side into a 10-9 half-time lead.
After missing his opening kick of the second period, Lane was successful with a second attempt in the 47th minute to keep the Cork scoreboard ticking over, the visitors now leading 13-9.
‘Hinch saw a chink of light in the 53rd minute when Cork Con’s experienced winger Cronan Healy was yellow carded for foul play, but as the County Down outfit tried to press home their numerical advantage, ‘Hinch lock Chris Napier was rather dispatched to the sideline for 10 minutes following a late tackle on Darragh Lyons.
After a period of sustained pressure in the 66th minute, the Cork Con backs moved the ball wide to give winger Lane a one-on-one against ‘Hinch’s David Nicholson, and the AIB club international player won the contest to scamper in at the right-hand cornerflag for an unconverted try.
‘Hinch mounted a stirring fight back. On several occasions, Michael Kirkwood, Bambry and the fleet-footed Spence all made it through the first line of Con’s defence, but their offloads dropped short and fell at the trailing players’ feet, or the ball was knocked away by the Corkmen.
If a ball went loose, a white jersey covered it in a flash denying ‘Hinch vital possession in key areas.
The hosts did have the dominant scrum and had taken a number of strikes against the head. Then, following successful take in the 74th minute, ‘Hinch got back within two points.
Team captain Stuart Lamb picked up the secured possession and attacked, the quick ball was moved wide where Spence burst through midfield and as play entered the Con 22, Spence offloaded to David Harris, putting him clear to run in for the try.
Bambry tagged on the conversion, but Cork Con managed to control play during the final five minutes to secure a hard-fought win and gain some revenge for their defeat in the final last April.