Malone may have been favourites for this Senior Cup tie at Stevenson Park but Dungannon had other ideas and carved out a deserved win with two tries in each half. The Belfast team looked dangerous in the opening 15 minutes but it was quickfire Dungannon who opened the scoring. The alert Johnny Toal came off his wing and cut across the set piece before darting in halfway out. Jordan McIlwaine added the extras and the hosts were off to a perfect start on 15 minutes. Minutes later Gannon looked set for another but McIlwaine failed to hold Matthew Montgomery’s pass. Dungannon were now playing at pace and Malone found it difficult to remain onside. That said, it was Dungannon who were pinged at the offside line for Rory Campbell to cut the deficit with a penalty on 25 minutes. After the restart Malone lost possession and the quick- thinking Connor McGeough chipped the ball to the corner. The visitors survived but a Dungannon lineout drive saw Malcolm Allister crash over on 28 minutes. The conversion bounced off an upright and the score remained 12-6. Alas, Dungannon lost a prop to the bin and the hosts had to finish the half with 14 men. Campbell fired over the resultant penalty but that was cancelled out in similar fashion by McIlwaine right on the half time whistle and the score stood 15-6. Just as in the first half there was no scoring in the first quarter of an hour in the second half. However, the game sprung to life on 55 minutes. James McMahon made a good carry before offloading to Toal. A perfect pass from him saw Montgomery touch down on the right. McIlwaine’s conversion missed by inches but Gannon still looked good at 20-6. Malone retaliated and their chase of points saw super sub, Ryan Clarke race in on 62 minutes. Campbell fired over the extras to leave Malone just 7 points in arrears. On 70 minutes a McIlwaine penalty eased the nerves but Malone hit back two minutes later when winger, Andy Bryans crossed the line for Campbell to convert. The Dungannon pack, headed up by the experienced Glenn Sinnamon, once more turned the screw and during a 5 metre scrum the Belfast forwards fell to disarray. The referee had no option but to award a penalty try to make it 30-20. Then, just as in the first half when the leading team was going well, they became victims of another yellow card with McIlwaine heading for the ‘bin’ on 77 minutes. Malone tried to take advantage but gritty Gannon held on for a place in the second round. Coach Andy Hughes was delighted with the performance of his young charges.
Dungannon:- Andrew McGregor, John Toal, Matthew Montgomery, Mark Faloon, Jordan McIlwaine, Connor McGeough, Jack Ravey, Glenn Sinnamon, Malcolm Allister, Sean O’Hagan, Ryan McKay, Peter Doran, David Leyburn, Adam Milligan, James McMahon, Daniel Maxwell, Conor Coyle, Cameron Steenson, Adam Evans, Conor Milnes.
Malone:- Ben McCaughey, Andy Bryans, Matthew Hamilton, Nathan Brown, Jordan Foster, Rory Campbell, Matthew Neill, Gary Crawford, Claytan Milligan, Seifeldin Abdelgawad, Conor McMenamin, Jonathan Davis, Joshua Davidson, Stuart Marriott – Dodington, Niall Greenan, Connor Kelly, Ben Halliday, Ryan Clarke, Lewis Finlay , Callum Smith.
The full list of first round results is as follows:-
Armagh 10 Banbridge 3
Ballynahinch 38 Queens 27
Bangor 6 Omagh 26
Dungannon 30 Malone 20