Wednesday, 11 April 2018

CHAMPIONS! thumbnailThe try scorers at the Kingspan Stadium for Dungannon Thirds as they beat Ballyclare Fourths 18-17 on Saturday afternoon, Richard Wright and Caolan Mulgrew.

DUNGANNON Thirds completed a superb League and Cup double when they edged out an experienced Ballyclare side in the final of the Forster Cup at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

Dungannon III...18
Ballyclare IV...17

It was a close and exciting encounter throughout and as the rain fell in the second half, it was the County Antrim boys who led by six points before a late dramatic converted try per left winger, Caolan Mulgrew brought the Dungannon supporters to their feet.

Mulgrew found space 55 metres out and when he stepped on the gas he rolled off his opposite number and then chipped over the head of the Ballyclare fullback.

His race to collect was perfect and he dotted down at the posts amidst loud cheering. Aaron Perry popped over the conversion to make it 18-17.

Following the kick off, Dungannon managed to contain the Ballyclare team within the half. A good break by Julian Knipe and a good run by Johnny O'Neill looked promising.

A high tackle on Alan Cummings brought a penalty and Richard Wright screwed the ball to the corner. Already it was a delight watching the younger Dungannon pack with skipper, Stevy Donaghy guiding the way.

It was a good ball from the out-half, Wright saw him take an angled run all the way to the line on 10 minutes.

The conversion was missed but 'Gannon were off to a good start. After the restart Ballyclare upped the ante and play moved around midfield for a time.

Their pack then took play close to the line and former Dungannon player, Andrew Holmes touched down halfway out on 25 minutes.

Dave Crawford added the extras for a first time lead. Closer to the break play was held up when Matthew Smyth was downed with a high tackle. He recovered and when Cummings made a notable break Aaron Perry fired over a penalty to put Gannon back in front.

Jonny Wright's team then suffered a setback when Richard Wright took a knock and was forced off. Knipe and Cranston took over the half back roles as half-time approached. Deep in injury time Crawford put Clare back in front with a penalty as the County Antrim men led 10-8 at the break.

Ballyclare started the second half on top and edged further ahead when a forward drive saw Paul Morrow mauled over for John Wasson to convert. Dungannon bounced back and on 45 minutes Aaron Perry struck again with a second penalty.

However, it was Clare who continued to dominate the third quarter and while there was no further scoring the game appeared to be drifting away from the Stevenson Park team.

That was until that late rally when Mulgrew scored a spectacular match winning try. Ulster Branch V/president, Gary Leslie handed over the trophy to Stevy Donaghy. At the finish team manager, Jonny Wright said: "I am proud of the lads, they never gave up and what a finish".

Dungannon:- Matthew Smyth, Andrew Lee, Aaron Perry, Johnny O'Neill, Caolan Mulgrew, Richard Wright, Julian Knipe, Matthew Stockdale, Daniel Mikolajczyk, Darryl Morrison, Gordon Stewart, Stephen Donaghy (capt), Joseph Cashel, Alan Cummings, Carl Bell, Zack Farrell, Adam Cranston.


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