LETTERKENNY made the long journey to Banbridge looking to keep up their play-off hopes.
Bann seemed to take a while to find their feet, with the tricky visiting three quarters proving to be a handful. About 20 minutes into the half Leterkenny were up 10 points through a quick penalty to the winger and some tricky foot work from the out half.
Some harsh words from Adam Ferris seemed to lift the boys and kick-start them into action. They started to take the game to the opposition through some great team work, with captain Matthew Blain at the centre of it all. His off-load to Conor Burns saw the centre charge his way up the pitch and find the supporting Nathan Wallace who brought play into the “22”. Letterkenny went off-side at the ruck and scrum-half Max Buller quickly moved the ball to Lee Jackson who barged his way over for the five pointer.
The momentum was now with Bann and they were quickly back in the ‘Kenny half. With seconds left before the break Jack Flanagan found himself stopped short of the line but lacking the support to finish off. The half time whistle came at the right time for the visitors.
The second half started as the first with the Letterkenny threequarters taking every opportunity to run at the Bann backs but with William Wilson back from injury they were not getting much joy. The visitors’ out-half changed tactics and started to put high garryowens up to put the full back under pressure. They found John Buller in blistering form and a joy to watch under the high ball. One such catch saw him return the kick and chase it up to make the tackle. Once again the support was too slow and Bann couldn’t make the most of Buller’s solid work.
Wilson went off injured and ‘Kenny now saw this as an opportunity. Their centres found gaps in a tiring Bann defence to seal the win with a try apiece.
Despite the final outcome this was a decent performance from the Bann squad. In the pack Matthew Blain once again led from the front, getting great support from Jackson and Ferris. The defensive qualities of Wilson, Alex Walker and Callum Carlisle made them the stand out performers in the back line.
However Man-of-the-Match must go to John Buller who gave a complete performance at full-back. His positioning and timing under the high ball was never in doubt. In defence as a last line you can always rely on him and despite being one of the youngest players in the squad he is sure to be a very important part of the team for the cup campaign.
This week the team travels to Donegal for the final league fixture before the cup starts in March.