Champions again: City of Armagh retain SONI Ulster Rugby Premiership title

Armagh celebrate with the Stevenson Shield
Armagh celebrate with the Stevenson Shield


Willie Faloon’s side had already lifted the First Trust Senior Cup and gained promotion to Division 1B and only needed a losing bonus point to keep the Stevenson Shield at the Palace Grounds as they outscored Malone by three tries two in a game spoilt by the conditions.

Malone needing four tries turned down a kickable penalty and took a scrum in the 22, Nathan Brown made a surging break and put full back Mark O’Connor under the posts with Rory Campbell converting.

The sides were level on 23 minutes as Armagh hit back with a converted try.

Following a sustained period of pressure in the Malone 22 No8 Robert Whitten came onto a crash ball and powered through two tackles to touch down with out half Cormac Fox adding the extra two points.

Armagh took the lead on 38 minutes with their second try.

Again the pack worked the ball through a number of phases in the Malone 22 before they put width on it and winger Andrew Willis went over in the corner, Fox’s conversion gave Armagh a 14-7 lead at the break.

Armagh started the second half strongly but couldn’t extend their lead due to inaccuracy in the Malone 22.

Malone wasted a great scoring opportunity on 60 minutes when they kicked a penalty to the corner they secured the lineout but Armagh were able to hold up the maul and force a turnover, from the resulting scrum the visitors won a free kick and cleared their lines.

The home side nearly broke through after a surging run from Campbell, the winger carried close to the line but the support knocked on.

Malone finally made their second half possession and territorial advantage count on 75 minutes.,

From a scrum in the Armagh 22 they marched the visitors back and the referee awarded a penalty try to tie the scores.

Armagh wrapped the game and the title up with a try from the restart.

Malone were trying to run the ball out of their own 22 but were turned over and open side flanker Stuart Hooks scored with Fox adding the conversion.

Malone lock James McAllister and Armagh flanker James Morton were yellow carded for their part in a melee.

p Malone have recruited former Ireland international Grace Davitt to coach Women’s team next season.

The women did the league and cup double this season but lost in the All Ireland League playoffs.

The Gibson Park club are hoping Davitt can help the club gain promotion next season.