Dungannon suffered a shock defeat at Stevenson Park on Saturday when a gritty Rainey side overturned a 15-6 interval deficit to run out 21-15 winners.
The home supporters found it difficult to hide their disappointment after their team had scored two excellent tries in the opening half. A third in the second would probably have sealed the issue but it wasn’t to be and five well struck penalties from Man of the Match Mark O’Connor, brother of Ulster’s Niall, put Rainey into a first ever Senior Cup semi-final.
With the sun on their backs Dungannon started well and when Paul Magee and John McGuckin combined an infringement spoiled an early chance. However, a downfield kick was well fielded by Darren Simpson and his counter attack led to a try on five minutes for the supporting Timothy Smith.
Rainey retorted but O’Connor miscued from the tee at the other end. Dungannon then bounced back and a fine piece of running ended with McGuckin landing a penalty on 10 minutes.
Three minutes later O’Connor cancelled that out when he found the target to make it 8-3. That spurred the visitors who then attacked down the right hand flank with the aid of a superb line kick. Alas for Dungannon, a tackle was deemed dangerous and Paul Jackson was despatched to the sin bin.
That seemed to ruin the rhythm of the game and no points were scored during his absence.
Come the 38th minute O’Connor struck with another penalty before Dungannon underlined their first half dominance with a try from the abrasive James McMahon. McGuckin landed the difficult conversion to make it 15-6 at the break.
Rainey started the second half well and when Dungannon were pinged for a deliberate knock-on the visitors made ground. Dungannon tried to run from defence but a harsh penalty for holding saw O’Connor strike from the tee once more.
On 50 minutes jittery Dungannon were penalised again and O’Connor closed the gap to three points.
The home side were certainly making it hard for themselves and when Alan McCluggage became the victim of a late tackle, O’Connor brought a huge cheer from the travelling supporters when he levelled matters with his fifth penalty on 57 minutes.
Rainey now had the scent of a possible victory and they responded to skipper Neil O’Kane’s promptings.
O’Connor did miss out on a penalty on the hour mark before determined Rainey launched a serious attack on the Dungannon line. McGuckin halted a certain try and when O’Connor tried to set the back line in motion Smith caught him in possession.
Come the 70th minute though O’Connor gave the visitors a first time lead with another strike and it was all looking ominous for Dungannon.
Another sortie by the home side was pinged before Rainey went back on the offensive. In the last minute Peter Cashel appeared to break clear for a certain score but play was called back for O’Connor to land his seventh penalty to seal a memorable victory for the County Derry club.
Dungannon: Mark O’Shea, Darren Simpson, Mark Faloon, Paul Magee, Sean Conway, John McGuckin, Gareth McGonigle, Phil Whyte, Paul Jackson, Ben Howard, Paul McCarroll, Plunkett McCallan, Timmy Smith, Derek Hall (c), James McMahon. Replacements: Steven Sinnamon, Charlie Sargaison, Michael Dunleavy, Jake Finlay, Jaryd Bennett.
Rainey OB: Mark O’Connor, Andrew Campbell, Damien McMurray, Stephen Simpson, Matthew McClelland, Gavin Martin, Alan McCluggage, Stephen Rutledge, Nathan Amos, Neil O’Kane (c), Peter Boyle, Peter Stewart, Andrew Harbinson, Tom Burns, Paddy Magowan. Replacements: Stuart McDowell, Michael Shiels, Tim Barker, Conor O’Neill, Alan Clarke.
Referee: Adrian Reavey (Portadown)