Dalriada playing in their second Subsidiary Shield final, separated by 39 years the current 1stXV travelled to Shaws Bridge in Belfast to take on local rivals Ballymena Academy. In a tight and exciting game it was Dalriada who led from start to finish, scoring two well worked tries to seal a 12-3 victory.
Playing with the wind in the first half it was the Dalriada boys who started the brightest, making several breaks in midfield. One of these breaks by centre Peter Dunlop resulted in right wing Matthew Lockhart finishing off the play with a try in the corner. They hoped to kick on from this position using the strong wind but were unable to add to the score line before half time.
Turning around for the second half, Dalriada knew they were up against it and right from the kick off Dalriada knew they were in for a tough 35 minutes. After 10 minutes of play, most of it saw Ballymena with a lot of possession, Dalriada were penalised and up stepped the Ballymena kicker to add the 3 points and more importantly getting Academy on the score board. Back came Ballymena now in search of the score that would put them into the lead. Time and again Dalriada absorbed the pressure and turned the ball over or simply rocked back Ballymena with ferocious tackling and competive endeavour at the breakdown. Great credit goes to the back row and in particular Henry Loan who led the tackling and to the other forwards, Matthew Christie, Scott Malcomson and Scott Love amongst them who worked hard and stayed alert.
Moving into the final quarter, the pressure was beginning to take its toll on Dalriada as they defended closer to their own line. On one such occasion Dalriada deep in their 22 won quick ball and decided to run it, Matthew Christie standing in the out half through out a long pass to the Michael Finnerty who feed left winger Robert Hunter who took on his opposite man,beat him and ran 60 metres evading the scrambling Ballymena defence before passing inside to the supporting full back Michael Finnerty. He beat the cover to score spectacularly under the points and with Captain Timmy Emerson added the conversion to make it 12-3. This meant that Ballymena needed to score twice to lift the shield. The referee Peter Martin after three more minutes decided that time was up and blew the final whistle. As the players jumped for joy the very vocal and colourful support ran on to the pitch to embrace the players.
The victory sparked off great celebrations and was a fitting end to a great season for the players. The whole squad have to be congratulated for all their hard work this season.