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Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Hinch clinch first league title

Ballynahinch celebrate
Ballynahinch celebrating winning the Ulster Senior League title for the first time

Ballynahinch have won the First Trust Ulster Senior League for the first time after a 38-9 bonus point home victory over Queen's University on Saturday.

Indeed, Ballynahinch would still have claimed the title if they had lost after challengers Dungannon and Ballymena were both beaten.

Dungannon were defeated 41-40 by Instonians at Stevenson Park while Ballymena lost 26-21 at home to Rainey.

Harlequins beat Malone 22-12 and Portadown defeated Banbridge 39-26.

The Stevenson Shield triumph has etched another honour in Ballynahinch's short history.

Founded in 1954, they became a hard-nosed Junior outfit before they finally achieved their goal of senior rugby 41 years later.

It took a New Zealander to help them up those final few steps when former Ireland star Andy Ward arrived in the province and guided them to Ulster Senior League promotion in 1995.

Even when Ward's exhubrance and direction were promoted elsewhere when he was elevated to Ulster and Ireland ranks, Hinch never flinched and held their own in the various All-Ireland Leagues.

With Ward having returned to the club, and pulling back the years to play in the back-row again following three years as coach to Belfast Harlequins, Hinch are chasing promotion to Division One.

It is another one of their current goals which is well within their radar this season having lost only two games from 18 starts and lying top of Division Two.

Having secured Towns' Cup and Junior Cup honours in their younger days, and two two Senior Cup final appearances, a first piece of silverware from the top shelf will be welcomed at Ballymarcarn Park.



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