Ballynahinch’s difficult start to their Energia AIL 1A campaign continued on Saturday with a 20 – 23 loss to University College Dublin at Ballymacarn Park.

I’d been looking forward to this game all week but with a few tractor’s and trailers at the start and end of my trip, and the usual West Link congestion, the match was 20 minutes in by the time I arrived. Ballynahinch were leading 10 – 3 thanks to an Aaron Cairns try and a conversion and penalty from Sean O’Hagan.

UCD’s points had come from the boot of David Moran and it was the students applying the pressure as the game went into the second quarter. The pressure told and Hinch’s captain John Doonan got an ten minute rest and the Dublin side peppered the Hinch line.

It was raining tries for UCD at the end of the first half.

Within minutes UCD pulled the game back to 10 – 8 as Sean McNulty went over in the corner and the visitors enjoyed a purple patch as the first half drew to a close with No 8 Stephen McVeigh also crossing before McNulty grabbed his second on the stroke of half time. None of the tries were converted giving a 10 – 18 scoreline in UCD’s favour, but it seemed like more!

It was a much improved Hinch in the third quarter as they tried to play a more expansive game. A break from midfield saw Ross Adair sprint clear to finish under the posts for O’Hagan to convert to make it a one point game.

Ballynahinch’s Ross Adair heads for the posts at the start of the second half.

As the game became a bit of an arm wrestle in the middle of the park, it was a match that had few thrills but plenty of endeavour and the home side edged the third quarter with O’Hagan landing a second penalty to put them in front 20 – 18 with twenty still to play.

The student’s gradually worked their way back into the game, as the final quarter progressed, and, after a period of pressure in the Hinch 22, wing forward Ronan Foley battled to the line for the visitors bonus point try and a two point lead.

Ballynahinch were forced to run from deep to try to rescue the game.

There was still time for Hinch to rescue the game and I changed ends in the hope of catching the winning score, but it wasn’t to be. Hinch lacking the composure and discipline to break down the spirited College defence.

Ballynahinch: 1. Kyle McCall, 2. Zac McCall, 3. Tommy O’Hagan, 4. Jack Regan, 5. John Donnan (Capt.), 6. Clive Ross, 7. Marcus Rea, 8. Bradley Luney, 9. Rhys O’Donnell, 10. Sean O’Hagan, 11. George Pringle, 12. Ryan Wilson, 13. Ross Adair, 14. Aaron Cairns, 15. Conor Rankin. Replacements: 16. Connor Piper, 17. Jonny Blair, 18. James Simpson, 19. Paddy Wright, 20. Gregg Hutley 

U.C.D.: 1. Emmet Burns, 2. Sean McNulty, 3. Evin Coyle, 4. Cian Prendergast, 5. Charlie Ryan, 6. Jonny Guy, 7. Ronan Foley, 8. Stephen McVeigh, 9. Harry Donnelly, 10. David Moran, 11. Eoin Barr,  12. Colm Mulcahy, 13. Andy Marks, 14.  Jack Ringrose, 15. Luke Maloney. Replacements: 16. Richie Bergin, 17. Rory Mulvihill, 18. Tom Treacy, 19, Patrick Patterson,  20. Rob Keenan

With eight of Hinch’s players involved with the Ulster/Ulster A sides it’s going to take them a while to gel as a team. It was a spirited enough performance, if a touch undisciplined at times but the support play was down on thier high standards.

With a strong sun shining up the pitch towards the club house there was only really one option for photos and that was at the opposite end of where the play was taking place but we still got over 200 pictures worth a look. 🙂

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