Ballynahinch teams are All-Ireland champions

Ballynahinch teams are All-Ireland champions

17 April 2019

BALLYNAHINCH was at the centre of Ireland’s sporting world at the weekend.

It was a case of doubles all round for the town’s rugby club.

The ‘Hinch won the All-Ireland League Division 1B title and their fourths lifted the coveted Crawford Cup at the Kingspan Stadium.

Just to make it a Super Saturday, Ballynahinch Hockey Club travelled down to Dublin and lifted the Irish Challenge Hockey Cup for the second year in succession to complete a memorable season for Mark Brown’s boys.

The rugby first XV dealt with St Mary’s College without undue trouble at Ballymacarn Park to secure their place in the top flight of Irish club rugby.

Their 41-15 victory prompted huge celebrations after skipper Aaron Cairns got his hands on the trophy.

“This is massive for the club,” said Cairns. “All the hard work this season has finally paid off.

“We wouldn’t have got here without our coaches, Brian McLaughlin and Tom Rock, and all the backroom staff.

“There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and without that we couldn’t do it.

“We’ve learnt lessons from our time before in 1A and hopefully we’ll take that back up with us and see how we get on,” added Cairns.

Indeed, the trick will be staying in 1A somewhat longer this time around — ‘Hinch managed three campaigns of mostly struggle before exiting in 2016 — and that fresh challenge awaits Brian McLaughlin’s squad.

Over at Ravenhill, an experienced fourths team had just enough in the tank to defeat local rivals Banbridge thirds 18-10 to keep the Crawford Cup in the Ballymacarn Park trophy cabinet for another year. 

The ‘Hinch were good value for their victory in a tough, uncompromising battle, but the ‘Hinch’s greater experience stood them in good stead.

All heads then turned towards Dublin where the hockey club faced Limerick at Serpentine Avenue in the Irish Challenge Cup final.

Manager Mark Brown sent his troops out full of confidence and goals from man of the match William Edgar (2), Scott Leetch and Matthew Martin were good enough to give them a 4-3 victory in an entertaining final.

Edgar’s two pieces of individual brilliance were worthy of winning any competition in a superb display of expansive, attacking hockey.

This was Ballynahinch’s third Irish title in seven years — and by far the hardest to win.

The game went back and forth at breakneck speed with goals soon starting to flow. 

‘Hinch, always look the more composed side with former Instonians man Matthew Martin and the predatory Edgar having that touch of class.

Limerick made a real go of it in the last five minutes, but Ballynahinch had the nous to see out the game and lift the crown for a third time.