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‘Hinch Prevail In Scrappy Derby Clash

‘Hinch Prevail In Scrappy Derby Clash

Ballynahinch maintained their lead at the top of Division 1B as they scored 25 unanswered points in the second half of their Ulster derby duel with Dungannon on Friday night.

Ballynahinch played into the breeze towards Slieve Croob in the first half and quickly settled into the game, winger Chris Quinn converting a long range effort into the breeze in the eighth minute.

'Hinch gave away a soft penalty two minutes later and John McGuckin converted to make it 3-3. Dungannon settled into the game with strong running from Ulster player Ali Birch keeping the home defence busy.

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'Hinch suffered a setback when Harry McAleese had to retire with a hand injury. That prompted Adam Craig to move io out-half, with Quinn redeployed at full-back and Michael Lawton coming onto the wing.

In the 17th minute a Quinn penalty took the County Down side clear again 6-3, but 'Hinch infringed at the restart and McGuckin quickly levelled with a well-struck kick.

It was a scrappy affair at Ballymacarn Park with both sides finding the heavy conditions and the slippery ball difficult to handle.

'Gannon took the lead in the 24th minute thanks to quick thinking and fine individual skill from Ireland Under-20 full-back Peter Nelson.

The ball squirted out of a ruck on the 'Hinch 22 and Nelson was quick to get his foot to it, hacking it past the defence and then winning the race to the linet to dive on the ball under the posts. McGuckin added the extras for a 13-6 advantage.

The visitors enjoyed most of the play for the remainder of the first half which concluded with the Tyrone men leading by seven points.

'Hinch made the perfect start to the second half, putting the visitors onto the back foot. Blane McIlroy was the instigator of a pacy attack, hacking on and then picking up a loose ball from the back of a Gannon scrum.

The forwards pressed and eventually after a few phases, the ball was flashed right to find Stuart Morrow in space and he finished off the score. Quinn added the extras from the touchline to bring his side back level.

McGuckin missed a penalty attempt in the 46th minute and then Quinn put 'Hinch into a 16-13 lead when he converted a penalty after Stuart McCloskey was yellow carded for not rolling away after the tackle.

Quinn added a further long range penalty and then scored the second 'Hinch try after quick ball was released wide to the left in the 59th minute and he beat the 'Gannon cover to cross in the corner. He failed to convert.

Both sides finished with 14 men after Paul Pritchard and Derek Hall were sidelined for separate offences.

With three minutes remaining, 'Gannon flanker Hall was yellow carded for deliberately preventing McIlroy from taking a quick tap penalty.

Play was moved 10 metres closer to the 'Gannon line and McIlroy tapped again, feeding James Simpson who did extremely well to battle his way over under the posts. Quinn added the conversion to to complete the scoring on the night.

It was a solid enough performance and 'table toppers Hinch were happy to take the four league points, with their head coach Derek Suffern admitting: “It was very difficult conditions for both sides to be honest. First half we played into the wind it was very difficult to kick into, so we were very happy to turn round just one score down.

“It was a difficult night all round. The ball seemed very, very, greasy even though it wasn't wet overhead, but underfoot it was definitely wet and heavy conditions.

“There were some good scores in the second half. We hemmed them in their 22, and held good discipline without the ball and forced them into errors. When we got possession, we worked the ball through the phases, it was a difficult night for them to defend and we ran in good scores in the second half.

“Maybe we got greedy and we are a bit disappointed not to get that bonus point but you would have taken that win at the start of the day.”

He added: “The Stuart Morrow try at the start of the second half was crucial for us, it gave us the confidence and belief to keep going after we conceded a soft score in the first half. I'm happy with the win tonight.”

Referee: Richard Kerr (IRFU)