Ballymena now led by new head coach Andy Hughes had Callum Patterson back from a successful spell with Cornish Pirates, while stalwarts Andrew Ferguson and James Taggart were beginning their 19th senior campaigns.
After watching his side lose their opening league fixture coach Hughes believes improvement is needed.
“I thought we just didn’t get going. The first half being into the wind we could not get into our rhythm. They scored early, and that threw us a little bit and any bits of positive play we did get going we then made errors, and their number 10 kicked the ball 60 to 70 metres into touch. He had a great game. We just couldn’t get out of the blocks.
“We fought back in the second half, but we lost our composure at crucial times, and it just wasn’t our day,” he added.
Hughes says that he is learning all the time about the squad he has inherited from last year’s coach John Nicholl.
“I am, but the AIL is another step-up for the players; teams are still mixing and matching. The intensity is maybe not as high, and for me, it’s probably going to take a few AIL games to see what the guys are made of. I am still learning about the different personalities we have in the squad, but we are getting there.
“We will not get too frustrated at this early stage,” he added.
This Saturday Hughes’ men will host Navan at Eaton Park, and the coach is looking for a reaction from his players.
“We have to react. Of course, we do. We picked up a few knocks there, so we will have to keep an eye on those, and we will get a few boys back next week. We will have to keep going. This was only game one, so we can’t get too frustrated at this stage of the season,” said Hughes.
BLACKROCK: Colclough, Dwan, Moriarty, Quirke, McMahon, Fennelly, Barron, Cosgrove, Fortune, Hardiman, Reale, Whelan, Savage, McMahon, McSweeney.
SUBS: Byrne, Dixon, Reilly, Edwards, McCarthy.
BALLYMENA: McGuckian, Irvine, Patterson, Baille, Millar, McKay, Robson, Jordan.Lamont, Howe, P Browne, J Browne, Mawhinney, Taggart, Mark.
SUBS: Donald, Forsythe, McKeeman, McClean, Weeraratne.
REFEREE: A Fogarty