Ballymena Academy progressed to the final of the Medallion Shield following a 19 – 3 win against Sullivan Upper on Saturday morning at Roughfort Road.
Sullivan opened the scoring, with an early penalty from Johnny Cochrane, but Ballymena hit back almost immediately with a try by the impressive Andrew Donald, a player who was to have a big say on the outcome of this game. The conversion was missed, in windy conditions, leaving the score 5 – 3 in Ballymen’s favour.
The teams largely battled it out in the middle of the park for the next 20 minutes. Sullivan missed a penalty attempt during this period, but, as the game approached the half hour mark, it was Ballymena who made the decisive break. That man Donald made the breakthrough powering over under the posts after a period of pressure on the Sullivan line. Jordan Millar added the conversion giving the Academy side a 12 – 3 lead at the break.
Sullivan worked hard throughout the second half, probably edging the possession stats, but the Ballymena team put in an impressive defensive performance, hunting in packs, often driving their opponents backwards. In addition to his two tries, Donald was particularly destructive, clocking up a huge tackle count.
Ballymena got their decisive try midway through the second half, Adam Thompson going over in the corner, and, with Millar landing the conversion, the score moved to 19 – 3.
Sullivan continued to push for a try for the remainder of the game but they had to battle for every inch and Ballymena’s defence held firm to record an impressive win.
Final score: Ballymena Academy 19 Sullivan Upper 3