City of Armagh 13 Cork Constitution 20
A heroic performance from City of Armagh was not enough to prevent Cork Constitution reaching the final of the Bateman Cup for the sixth year in a row.
The Division 1A side squeezed through 13-20 after an exciting encounter at the Palace Grounds in Armagh.
The match kicked off in dry conditions and the visitors exerted early pressure to test the home defence.
Armagh were encouraged with a penalty from the first scrum and on 10 ten minutes, outhalf Cormac Fox put in a lovely kick to pin Cork back in their 22.
The Corkmen then swept up field with some slick handling and Armagh conceded a penalty. Cork Con out-half Aidan Moynihan converted the kick to open the scoring, 0-3.
The home team then stunned their senior opponents with the first try of the match on 17 minutes. Cork failed to deal with a kick into their 22 and coughed up possession two metres from their line. Armagh full-back Tim McNeice grabbed the loose ball to squeeze in for a try at the corner flag.
The conversion was narrowly wide and the score remained 5-3 to Armagh.
Cork responded immediately, taking play deep into Armagh territory. A penalty was kicked into touch but Armagh managed to steal the lineout and cleared the danger.
With light rain starting, Cork took the lead on 25 minutes with Moynihan kicking his second penalty to edge ahead 5-6.
Cork continued to dictate play and another penalty was dispatched into the Armagh 22.
The impressive McKinley then had a second steal and Armagh relieved the pressure. On the half hour mark, Fox put in a beautiful positional kick and it was Armagh’s turn to threaten the Cork defence.
Number 8 Neil Faloon and second row Robert Whitten led forward drives and the Armagh backline was looking threatening.
Some enterprising play from the home team led to their second try on 35 minutes. Winger, Robbie Faloon, touched down to the right of the posts and remarkably, the home team now led 10-6 as half time approached.
On 40 minutes Cork kicked a penalty into the corner and a catch and drive was halted illegally by Armagh.
Prop Daryl Morton was sent to the sin bin and Cork looked to repeat the move deep in injury time.
The visitors made the extra man pay off and drove over the Armagh line for number 8 Luke Cahill to touch down.
The successful conversion from Moynihan brought the half time score to 10-13.
The second half commenced and Armagh, a man short, gave away possession too easily. Three minutes from the restart, number 8 Cahill broke through a tackle and raced in from 30 metres for his second try of the day.
Moynihan converted and the visitors now looked comfortable with a ten point cushion, 10-20.
Chris Cousins came off the bench into the centre and his good touchline kick cleared another dangerous Cork attack. With Armagh back to their full compliment of players, they looked to get back into contention.
It was noticeable that Cork were now looking to play more for territory to keep Armagh back in their own half.
The home team made a break out of defence when Whitten and McNeice combined well and flanker James Hanna carried the ball into the Cork half.
On 57 minutes, the visitors were penalised and Cormac Fox kicked the points to bring Armagh back into the game at 13-20.
In an exciting final quarter it was Armagh who dominated and asked serious questions of the Cork defence. On 63 minutes, Daryl Morton broke through into the Cork 22 but the scoring pass went to ground.
A scrum penalty to Cork let them out of their half but Armagh returned to the attack, keeping the huge crowd of spectators enthralled.
With five minutes remaining, Cork were penalised for taking Tim McNeice out in the air and Fox sent his kick deep into the Cork 22.
Armagh secured the lineout and drove for the line. Cork collapsed the maul and were penalised again. McKinley secured the lineout and his pack drove again for the line.
Cork defended heroically and Armagh sent the ball wide looking for a converted try to tie the match and force extra time. A knock on let Cork clear their line and the match moved into injury time.
Armagh continued to attack but just failed to make the crucial break through and the final whistle went much to the relief of the Cork team and their travelling supporters.
A thrilling match came to an end with the final score, City of Armagh 13 Cork Constitution 20.
Following the match the Armagh coaching team were full of praise for the team who played full of passion and commitment. The gap between 1A and 2A meant nothing on the day and the home club did themselves proud.
A little more accuracy at times and a shock result would have been on the cards.
The team now move forward with an important match this Saturday at home to Banbridge in the SONI Ulster Premiership.
Armagh Thirds claim convincing win over Ballymena Thirds
City of Armagh 3rd fifteen raised their game once again for a convincing win against Ballymena thirds to go eleven points clear at the top of Provincial League 3.
Thursday night training with coach, Dave Eakin, is certainly paying off with the boys displaying great teamwork both in defence and attack.
It was a one sided affair and Armagh were 40 points up with two tries from Ruari Karlsen, and one each from Andrew Brady, Andrew Winder, Glenn Faloon and Luke Crozier before Ballymena managed to breach the Armagh defence on 39 minutes.
The response from Armagh was immediate and when Armagh won turnover ball Andrew Winder fed Luke Crozier for his second try. Five conversions by Glen Faloon meant that Armagh went into the second half with a convincing 45-5 lead.
The platform for this lead was built by the forwards, Killic, Sherry, Oliver, Gilpin, Dunne, Simms and Clarke under the leadership of captain Lutton.
They weren’t going to be beaten by an equally strong but less incisive Ballymena pack.
This base allowed the Armagh scrumhalf Girvan to feed the backline of Faloon, Brady, Knipe, Crozier, Winder and Karlsen who in turn were able to identify and penetrate the many weaknesses in the Ballymena defence almost at will.
Ballymena came out refreshed for the second half and a converted try on 45 minutes was a wake-up call for Armagh. 45-12.
But Armagh got their act together and in a dominant performance with tries from Luke Crozier , Faloon (2), and Karlsen, with two more conversions by Faloon meant that at the final whistle Armagh were worthy winners by 69-12.
There were no weaknesses in the Armagh side and Paddy Chapman, who came on during the second half made a couple of incisive carries.
Thanks again to Dave Eakin for his coaching during the match and to Ben Harney for kicking tee duties.
Going forward the guys will travel to Belfast next week where the opposition will be Harlequins 3, probably their closest challengers for PL3 glory.
On this performance Armagh an go into the remainder of the season with no one to fear.