’Gannon’s last gasp agony
Dungannon lost out by the narrowest of margins when Ballymena snatched a converted try in the final seconds of added time at sunny Stevenson Park on Saturday.
Indeed, it is not often that a side that scores four tries lose the match but on this occasion Dungannon were heading for a full compliment of points when they led 27-21.
In the last move of the game the Braid men struck with their fourth try per Scott Gibson. The same player added the conversion to turn the tables on the unlucky home side who had to be content with two bonus points at the final whistle.
Dungannon started well with a notable break from Timmy Smith. Ballymena thought they had cleared the danger when Callum Patterson booted the ball to halfway. David Egner fielded well and then weaved his way down the left wing for the opening try on the third minute.
The Tyrone men remained on the offensive and following a good drive from Smith, Jake Finlay was unlucky not to hold the final pass. Bennett fired over a penalty to make it 8-0 on 10 minutes.
A strange refereeing decision halted Dungannon’s next attack before Tom Hughes went close for Ballymena. Going into the second quarter the Braid men settled and took advantage of some defensive lapses to post three converted tries in the space of 10 minutes.
On 25 minutes an Ady Hamilton break set up David Whann. Three minutes later Hamilton was rewarded with a try of his own. The Braid back five then added a third when Whann completed his brace. All three were converted by Gibson to give Ballymena a 21-8 lead on 35 minutes.
Dungannon bounced back though and good work by the pack saw Bennett send the ball out to the right for Mark Faloon to dive over on 37 minutes. More pressure from the home side should have produced points as Egner went close and Bennett missed out with a kickable penalty. Dungannon trailed 13-21 at the break.
When the second half started Dungannon moved forward to close the gap. Glenn Sinnamon led a notable drive before Bennett misfired with a drop goal.
Backchat then cost the home side 20 metres leaving the Braid men with an unexpected opportunity. Fortunately a ‘knock on’ allowed Finlay to clear the danger. The home side then made the next visit count when Bennett sent Egner hurtling in at the corner on 50 minutes. The scorer injured himself in the process before Stuart McCloskey capped a fine try with a superb conversion.
Dungannon kept the momentum going and were unlucky to be stopped short following a great break from Darren Simpson. Come the 65th minute the home side were back in front when a controlled drive led to a try for Smith. McCloskey added the extras for a six point lead.
Dungannon looked set for the win and should have sealed the issue before Ballymena struck with perfection to take the spoils with that last ditch try. Well done to both sides for an entertaining spectacle before All Ireland League action gets underway next weekend.
The Club flag flew at half-mast on Saturday with both teams observing a minutes silence as a mark of respect for Nevin Spence and his family.
Dungannon: Mark O’Shea, Jerome McClure, Stuart McCloskey, Mark Faloon, David Egner, Jaryd Bennett, Jake Finlay, Glenn Sinnamon, Phil Whyte, Ben Howard, Mark Jenkinson, Paul McCarroll, Michael Dunleavy, Derek Hall, Timmy Smith. Subs: M Farquhar, G Maxwell, S Sinnamon, D Simpson, J McGuckin.
Ballymena: Tommy Small, Darryl Montgomery, Martin Irwin, Tom Hughes, Alan Smith, Callum Patterson, Scott Gibson, James Carson (c), Andrew Warwick, Mark Irving, David Whann, Conor Smith, Ady Hamilton, Willie McKay, Steve Mulholland. Subs: G Hargey, A Kirkpatrick, M Foster, N Martin, R Drysdale.
Referee: Oisin Quinn
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Weather for Dungannon
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east