Ballymena suffered their fourth successive AIB League defeat as they went down to Galwegians at Eaton Park on Saturday afternoon.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, December 5
BALLYMENA 13 GALWEGIANS 16, Eaton Park
Scorers: Ballymena: Try: Andrew Kerr; Con: David O’Hara; Pens: David O’Hara 2
Galwegians: Tries: Ati Olive, Liam Scahill; Pen: Rob O’Beirne; Drop: Tiernan O’Halloran
Galwegians, who exited the AIB Cup last Sunday, set the tone for this win with a fifth minute try from powerful number 8 Ati Olive after some concerted pressure from the forwards.
But a break from Ireland Under-19 international Luke Marshall teed up Ballymena’s only try of this action-packed encounter.
Flanker Andrew Kerr brushed off the tackles to get the touchdown, with scrum half David O’Hara’s successful conversion putting the Braidmen in front.
O’Hara added a penalty on the half hour for a 10-5 scoreline and although he added another before the break, ‘Wegians blasted back to level the tie on the stroke of half-time.
Lock Liam Scahill stormed through for an unconverted try and winger Tiernan O’Halloran, Marshall’s international colleague, landed an injury-time drop goal, squaring it up at 13-13.
In a ding dong second half, ‘Wegians’ superior defence frustrated the life out of Ballymena.
Midway through the half, the match-winning score arrived from a penalty from replacement centre Rob O’Beirne.
Although Marshall, Bob Young, captain Sam McKinney and full-back Jamie Smith tried desperately to engineer a response from the hosts, the scoreboard remained the same until full-time.
Best on the day for the Galway men were the Muldoons, Conor and Ivan, the hard-hitting Olive and John Cleary who covered and countered well at full-back.
BALLYMENA: Jamie Smith; Ricky Andrew, Kyle Moore, Steven Castle, Roger McBurney; Luke Marshall, David O’Hara; James Carson, Ryan Fisher, Simon Shawe, Bob Young, Darryl O’Kane, Andrew Kerr, Paul Pritchard, Sam McKinney (capt).
Replacements: James Taggart, Andrew Ferguson, Stephen Mulholland, Allan McCluggage.
GALWEGIANS: John Cleary; Barry Lee, Aifai Esera, David Clarke, Tiernan O’Halloran; Ross Shaughnessy, Kieran Campbell; Ja Naughton, Conor Muldoon, Jamie Stephens, Liam Scahill, Brian McClearn, Ambrose Conboy, Ivan Muldoon (capt), Ati Olive.
Replacements: Steve McGrath, Ross Fitzgerald, Derek Boyd, Ronan Dillon, Rob O’Beirne.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU)