Dungannon were singing in the rain come 4 pm at Stevenson Park on Saturday. A deserved 29-13 win gave the home side the first All Ireland League win of the season when they defeated newly promoted Ballina on a 5-2 try tally. As a result the men from Heffernan Park remain bottom and pointless while Dungannon move up to sit on the nine point mark.
Dungannon’s performance in the opening quarter was rather average with Ballina going close with a penalty on the 4th minute, before Dylan Prendergast went one better 5 minutes later. In between the hosts applied pressure but the visitors defence held out and when an attacking chance came their way scrum-half, Niall Keane made 30 metres before Mark Feeley dived over to send Ballina 8 points clear. Going into the second quarter Dungannon hit back and some fine support play saw Alex Gormley cross the line on 25 minutes. The momentum was then spoiled with two lost lineouts as Ballina remained on the front foot. However, come 35 minutes Matthew Montgomery made ground weaving and side-stepping the defence before touching down with 3 players up in support. The conversion was missed but it was enough to put the ‘blue and whites’ into a 10-8 lead. This time the momentum was maintained and when Dungannon rolled forward once more a short pass saw Mark Faloon go straight through to the posts without a hand laid on him. John Russell added the simple conversion and Dungannon carried a 17-8 lead into the break.
Dungannon remained on the front foot as Jordan McIlwaine guided a penalty to the corner. The home side lineout may have been shaky but there was no doubting the scrummage where Sinnamon, O’Hagan and Gamble stood out. The hosts had a try bonus in their sights and so it came with another piece of class finishing from Montgomery on 47 minutes. Russell’s conversion gave Dungannon a commanding 24-8 lead. However, five minutes later Stephen Todd was ‘binned’ for a technical offence and that signalled a period of pressure from Ballina. The Gannon defence held and when awarded a penalty play shifted to the other end. Then Ballina rolled forward once more and again Gannon denied them. With Todd back on the park Dungannon moved up a gear. A planned move saw Montgomery take possession, moving forward to test the Ballina defence A penalty was earned but the quick-thinking offensive was stopped by the referee’s whistle. Undeterred, Montgomery latched onto
another diagonal kick before racing away to complete his ‘hat trick’ At 29-8 Dungannon were ‘home and dry’ but the gutsy westerners never gave up and in the closing stages sub prop, Gary Kavanagh forced his way over to complete the scoring. Coach Andrew Hughes was delighted with the performance. After four very narrow defeats, Saturday proved to be a morale booster!
Dungannon:- Andrew McGregor, Matthew Montgomery, Mark Faloon, Connor McGeough, Jordan McIlwaine, Adam Evans, John Russell, Glenn Sinnamon, Malcolm Allister, Sean O’Hagan, Stephen Todd, Lewis McCrabbe, David Leyburn, Adam Milligan, Alex Gormley, Daniel Maxwell, James Gamble, Cameron Steenson, Paul Armstrong, Harrison Dudley-Rode.
Ballina:- Chris O’Neill, Darragh Whyte, Ronan Molloy, Kieran James-Lindsay, Brad Nealon, Dylan Prendergast, Niall Keane, Harry Hewson, Billy McVann, Shane Clarke, Fergal Tully, Mark Feeley, Luke Sweeney, Laurence Leonard, Aiden McNulty, Mark Walker, Gary Kavanagh, Andrew West, Evan Ferguson, Michael Collins.
The full list of 2B results is as follows:-
Galwegians 31 Malahide 19
Sligo 17 Corinthians 28
Wanderers 29 Greystones 31
Harlequins 7 Blackrock 35