Ballynahinch coach Derek Suffern hails players after beating Ballymena in First Trust Senior Cup final

Ballymena's Matthew Rea in action with Hinch's Jonny Madden.
Ballymena's Matthew Rea in action with Hinch's Jonny Madden.

Coach Derek Suffern was delighted as Ballynahinch beat Ballymena to retain the First Trust Senior Cup in a dramatic game at the Kingspan.

The lead changed hands four times before Hinch scored 10 unanswered points in the last half hour.

Ulster Branch President Bobby Stewart presents the First Trust Ulster Senior Cup to Ballynahinch captain Michael Graham

Ulster Branch President Bobby Stewart presents the First Trust Ulster Senior Cup to Ballynahinch captain Michael Graham

“I’m absolutely ecstatic for the boys. I thought they showed great character to be able to hold out against a very good Ballymena side,” said Suffern.

“I thought Ballymena took the game to us and in the last 20 minutes we were under the cosh but I think our defence held firm. That was the difference on the night, as was the goal kicking of Chris Quinn.”

Hinch trailed by a point at the break after playing against the elements in the first half.

“I thought we coped with the elements quite well, we created a few line breaks and just couldn’t finish them off. Ballymena’s breakdown work was very good in that first half and they managed to hold out and a bit of ill-discipline for us allowed them to get their maul and lineout going which is a huge strength of theirs,” Suffern added.

“We just couldn’t cope with that one before half-time but to get those two penalties we were happy with that one point.”

Hinch took the lead after being reduced to 14 men.

“With their lineout and maul dominance for us to get three points at that stage with the yellow card was a turning point in the second half.”

Hinch won the second half 13-3.

“In attack we had quite a bit of threat and we looked dangerous and it was potentially a matter of time before we got that break and we needed to be clinical with it,” he added.

“To be fair on the score we got a bit of a lucky break with an inside offload and managed to get the try.

“To go two scores ahead at that stage was massive because the opposition have to start to chase and they have to get two scores.”

Quinn, who was named as First Trust man of the match, kicked five out of five at goal for a personal tally of 14 points.

“He has a habit of doing that at the minute and I hope it keeps going,” Suffern said.

“In the AIL he did the same against Lansdowne in horrific conditions and he strikes a really pure ball and it was valuable having him on the pitch and he got his just rewards with the man of the match.

“It was a good performance from him and the team.”

Ballymena coach, Andy Graham, felt his side had played a lot of rugby but just had not been able to get the edge they needed particularly in the first half.

“We played a lot in the first half but they defended well and our driving maul of the lineout was not as effective as it maybe has been in the league.

“However, you saw when we did get one going really well we got the score off it.

“But they got a penalty back straight away and then when they got another at the start of the second half you just sort of felt things were turning.

“Losing Matty Rea early in the game was massive for us, but a credit to all the guys they worked hard.

“Getting to a Cup final is massive for the club and the experience the players will take from playing at Kingspan Stadium is brilliant going forwards.

“Our attentions now turn to the All Ireland League. We know our goal is promotion and we have to work hard to fulfil that.”