Young Munster maintained their push for the play-offs and promotion with an impressive second half display at Eaton Park on Saturday afternoon.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, February 20
BALLYMENA 13 YOUNG MUNSTER 27, Eaton Park
Scorers: Ballymena: Try; Darrell O’Kane; Con: David O’Hara; Pens: David O’Hara, Gareth Fisher
Young Munster: Tries: Ger Slattery, Alan Kingsley, James O’Neill; Pens: Alan Kingsley 4
Having led 11-10 at the break, tries from out-half Alan Kingsley and flanker James O’Neill helped the Cookies pull off a 14-point win over Ballymena.
It was a similar margin when these sides met at Tom Clifford Park in November, and the visitors’ organised defence, in particular, frustrated the life out of the Braidmen on Saturday afternoon.
Ballymena edged ahead thanks to a sixth minute penalty from scrum half David O’Hara, Kingsley replied with one of his own before forward pressure, on 20 minutes, yielded a converted try for home lock Darrell O’Kane.
Munsters captain Ger Slattery emerged from under a pile of bodies as the visitors hit back with a try before half-time, and an injury-time penalty from Kingsley left the Limerick side with a one-point lead.
Laois man Kingsley increased that with a 44th minute penalty and he managed to charge down a kick from his opposite number Luke Marshall and race through for a sucker-punch try, soon after.
Replacement Gareth Fisher closed the gap for Ballymena to 19-13, but a fourth successful penalty from Kingsley, from inside his own half, and a late try from O’Neill capped off Munsters’ eighth successive Division 1B win.
BALLYMENA: Roger McBurney; Tommy Seymour, Chris Brigl, Steven Castle, Peter Budina; Luke Marshall, David O’Hara; James Carson, James Taggart, Simon Shawe, Darrell O’Kane, Bob Young, Andrew Kerr, Ross Hackney, Sam McKinney (capt).
Replacements: Ryan Fisher, Andrew Warwick, Chris Smith, Paul Smyth, Gareth Fisher.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Matthew Costelloe; Cian Clohessy, Derek Corcoran, Clem Casey, Danny Grace; Alan Kingsley, Mike Prendergast; Ger Flaherty, Ger Slattery (capt), Alan Cotter, Shane O’Neill, Darragh Payne, Liam Og Murphy, James O’Neill, Neville Melbourne.
Replacements: Ger Burke, Donal Murphy, Ken Hanley, Brendan Guilfoyle, Ian Cross.
Referee: Alan Rogan (IRFU)