Carrick 1st XV won Kukri Qualifying League Section 2 with a 23-11 victory away at Coleraine on Saturday.
Needing to win and deny their opponents a losing bonus point to make sure of the title, Carrick did just that with one of their best performances of the season.
After a nervy opening period, Coleraine took the lead with a penalty after a rare defensive lapse from the visitors.
But Carrick settled with a 13th-minute unconverted try from Andy Kinkaid who forced his way past three defenders to score.
The hosts regained the lead with a long range penalty but Carrick were now beginning to get the lion’s share of possession and responded with a Luke Whitall penalty to make it 8-6.
Just four minutes into the second half, another Whitall penalty increased Carrick’s lead before Coleraine produced one of their best periods of the game culminating in an uncoverted try when they wheeled a five-metre scrum and drove over in the corner to level matters at 11-11.
Carrick stole a Coleraine line-out to set up a series of drives at the end of which Johnny McIlwaine touched down for a try. Luke Whitall put over an excellent conversion from wide for an 18-11 lead.
Two minutes later Carrick got the score they needed to take the home side out of bonus point range. Whitall put in a lovely chip over the Coleraine defence and Aaron McKinney raced onto it to score an unconverted try in the corner.
It was a fine Carrick performance to win the title and provides a fitting end to the club’s 150th anniversary season. The team have been a credit to President Bill Crymble and his fellow officers and, especially to coach Neil Hanna.
Having topped the table from early in the season, remaining unbeaten until the lapse against Academy in February, a few signs of nerves had begun to creep in during recent games but all of that was banished on Saturday afternoon.
In what has been the best campaign in many years, the the Woodburn Road club’s 3rd XV is also celebrating winning of the Junior League Section 5 title, while the 2nd XV is still in contention for title honours in their division.