Ronan O'Mahony of Garryowen is tackled by Ballymena's Mark Irwin. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Garryowen survive double yellow card blow to win All-Ireland Final

The Limerick side were down to 13 men and trailing at half-time before battling back to clinch the Bateman Cup.

A LATE SURGE of points confirmed Garryowen’s dominance in the final of the Bateman Cup but the Limerick side endured more than a few testing moments.

An early charge down of a Ballymena box-kick led to a try for Garryowen’s Neil Cronin, younger brother of Leinster hooker Sean, and put the division 1A side 5-3 in front.

The Ulster side battled doggedly in the first-half and were rewarded for their efforts when referee Eanna Falvey sin-binned Declan Lavery and Rory Hircock in the space of a minute.

Luke Marshall kicked a penalty in front of the posts and Ballymena led 6-5 at half-time.

The opening 10 minutes of the second-half would prove crucial as Garryowen started off well and made pressure tell on the Ulstermen.

Ross Hackney was yellow carded and the 13 men of Garryowen hit the front when Alan Gaughan crashed over in the corner.

Ballymena’s indiscipline squandered their man-advantage and the contest looked over with 20 minutes to go when Gaughan barged through after a great pass from Fergal Lawlor.

The closing stages saw Garryowen restored to 15 men but Ballymena lost Mark Irwin. The scoreline was given an extra coat of gloss when Ronan O’Mahony picked up a bouncing ball to dive over.

Garryowen captain Paul Neville lifted the cup after a 24-6 win in his final match for the club.

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