The much anticipated Towns cup quarter final game between Armagh seconds and Ballyclare took place at the Palace grounds on Saturday in overcast but dry conditions.
With memories of the previous week’s defeat still fresh, the home team started off in determined fashion straight from the kick off.
With Willie Martin continuing his dominance at the drop outs, ball was secured and quickly moved through Campbell and Fox.
Captain Matty Allen made a great midfield break taking play deep into the Ballyclare 22. Carries by Ollie Millar and Andrew Morton took play to the line with the visitors struggling to deal with Armagh’s intensity. After further pressure, Conlith Magillan spotted a gap in the defence to touch down midway out. With the conversion by Fox, the home side led 7-0 after 4 minutes.
Immediately after the restart Armagh were penalised at the breakdown and Ballyclare converted a penalty in front of the posts, 7-3. The home side established themselves in the Ballyclare half again with Fox instrumental in creating many of the plays.
Kyle Faloon had been making several probing runs with one of them ending with David Swann touching down out wide on 14 minutes, 12-3. Ballyclare were still a force when attacking with one play looking dangerous on the home 22 only for Andrew Brady to intercept a loose pass and run 60 metres to the posts for a converted try, 19-3 to Armagh.
Shortly after, a Ballyclare centre returned the compliment by intercepting a loose pass to run in an unconverted try from 40 metres, 19-8. The home team were still playing high tempo rugby with forwards and backs linking superbly and with Fox adding a penalty, the half time score was 22-8. Ballyclare were rattled by a very committed home side but on the restart they came flying out of the blocks putting several dangerous plays together to threaten the home line.
With the defence holding out, the Armagh back row of Baxter, Millar and Elliott led the charge up field again. Two 5 metre lineouts proved unproductive with mistakes turning the ball over to Ballyclare. Another mistake on the home 10 metre line led to a Ballyclare try at the corner flag which was also converted, 22-15 to Armagh.
With a home player binned, the Armagh coaching staff were becoming concerned at the Ballyclare resurgence and the loss of composure by the home side. With time running out, Fox added a good 40 metre penalty to stretch the home lead to 25-15 and Armagh were home and dry.
A great performance by the seconds and their excellent season continues to impress.
Picture: Conlith McGillan scores for Armagh.