“Pretty annoyed and disappointed,” was the terse reaction of Banbridge coach Daniel Soper after he had watched his side lose out to Skerries’ last minute converted try.
“We had put ourselves in a position to win and then through poor choices and skill levels threw it away. We didn’t perform anywhere near the level of which we’re capable and too many players made too many errors.
“That’s another game lost that we’d have won if we’d put in a half-decent performance.”
The game started at a furious pace, with Skerries trying to bring their polished threequarters into play whenever possible. Fortunately Bann were able through a hard-working pack to enjoy majority possession. But the first half hour was still largely played out in the visitors’ half as Bann tried in vain to break out.
Conal Keane’s 16th minute penalty effort from 35 metres range drifted wide of Bann’s posts. But three minutes later influential No 8 Ross McAuley fed Marc Hewitt with the deftest of passes and the centre raced home for Keane to convert.
With Andrew Morrison having made his side’s only previous excursion inside the home ’22’, Bann finally got a foothold deep in Skerries territory thanks to successive penalties.
Prop Stuart Cromie twice made inroads into the defensive wall and when the ball was moved left from the ruck Peter Cromie gave his skipper Jonny Graham the scoring pass, with Aaron Kennedy’s kick off the tee tying the scores at the interval.
The threat posed by the home backline was underlined early in the second half with full-back David Quirke’s surging run down the left flank putting him in at the corner despite a last-ditch Morrison tackle. Keane’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Skerries were almost in for a third try just four minutes later but Bann eventually lifted the siege and at the other end John Porter’s hack went dead before the winger could effect the touchdown.
Bann lost winger Adam Ervine and hooker Cromie to injury, with Clarke McAllister and James McCrum coming on to fill the voids.
Porter came off his own wing to take a pass on the left, then chipped ahead and beat the covering defence with a spectacular dive to touch down.
Kennedy again added the extras to edge his side two points ahead and added a penalty with nine minutes remaining as Bann enjoyed a further period of domination.
But Skerries were soon back pressurising and when a long Bann clearance kick from their own line failed to find touch, the home side launched a final and telling assault which yielded a points-equalling try for right winger Eddie O’Mahony.
Keane had been having mixed fortunes off the tee but when it mattered he produced the goods, even if he did need the assistance of a sympathetic cross-bar to get his kick over.
Bann managed to stay in the top ten in Division 2A, but coach Daniel Soper sees a win at Dungannon on Saturday week as vital if his side is not to go into the New Year in the relegation-threatened bottom six.
“A lot of remaining games are against teams below us, but with the bottom six dropping down a league at the end of the season under the re-structuring, that makes them all very difficult games. We certainly don’t want to go into the Christmas break on the back of two defeats.”