Banbridge’s hopes of winning Division 2A of the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League were virtually blown away at a windswept Corinthian Park on Saturday.
Their failure to collect a single point coupled with new leaders Naas’ win at Malone left the Kildare side needing just to beat struggling Skerries at home this Saturday to top the table and secure the automatic promotion.
Playing into a squally wind in the first half, Bann looked to have done the groundwork to secure the win. But it all came apart in a 20 minute period either side of the interval when the home side ran in three tries to take a 21-5 lead which the visitors never looked likely to overhaul.
A third minute penalty from out-half Simon Keller had seen the home side take the lead but for the next 30 minutes Bann dominated possession and territory despite playing into the wind.
A dropped ball was hacked through by Andrew Morrison into the home 22 and although Corinthians found temporary relief, the clearance kick was run back by John Porter to keep the pressure on the home line.
Adam Ervine then intercepted on halfway to sprint through to the 22 before his loss of footing allowed Corinthians to haul him down. But Bann recycled and went through the phases to allow Adam Doherty to put Morrison in for an unconverted try at the corner in the 26th minute.
Keller’s second penalty edged his side one point ahead before the home pack steamrollered over from a lineout 10 metres out for an 11-5 interval lead.
Now facing the elements, Corinthians were much more impressive with ball in hand, going further ahead when winger Dave McDermott crossed at the corner flag for a second unconverted try just three minutes after the break.
Bann had a chance to kick themselves into a strong attacking position from a penalty on halfway.
But the strong wind carried the kick over the dead ball line and from the scrum that resulted, Corinthians found a gap down the right flank to put strong running full-back Dave Panter in at the corner for another try.
Now 16 points in arrears Bann battled hard to get back into the game. Josh Cromie’s try in the 57th minute gave hope of a revival but those errors continued to blight their build-ups and despite losing a man to the ‘sin-bin,’ the home side prevented Bann from making any further inroads into the deficit to see out a massive result for both sides.