North West Minor League Champions Inishowen came up short in their bid to land one of the most prestigious pieces of silverware in Ulster Rugby on Saturday, on a 48-3 scoreline against Malone that didn’t fairly reflect the balance of play.
In fact, Inishowen were utterly dominant in possession in the first half but two lapses were punished by breakaway tries from a Malone side who had pace and power to burn in their backline.
Although trailing by 14 points just before the break, Inishowen had shown enough in the first half to indicate they were still in the game and having reeled in a similar deficit in last week’s semi-final against Enniskillen it was still all to play for.
The concession of further tries at either side of half time however left them with a mountain to climb and although they rucked well through the phases penetration proved difficult against a physically huge Malone side that was dripping with All Ireland League experience.
To have reached the final was a reflection of the progress Inishowen rugby have made this season but without their injured backs Mark Glasha and Jamie Lee Loftus this was always going to be a big ask.
The club are clearly on the right track to make the step up to AIL qualifying league rugby and regardless of whether or not that happens next season, it looks an inevitability if the current pace of their development continues.
By Johnny Craig
All the action from Saturday's final in Tuesday's Inish Times.
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