Ballyclare Rugby Club II XV Lose Cup Tie: II XV v Clogher Valley RFC II XV:

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For Ballyclare Rugby Club only one of the teams was in action at the weekend as very wet conditions continue to restrict games across the Province and the pitches at the Cloughan are no better condition than elsewhere. The Seconds made the trip to County Tyrone to play a strong Clogher Valley 2nd XV in the Crawford Cup. Despite being able to field a good side any thoughts of emulating the powerful Seconds teams of 1999-2002 when the trophy was won in a record making run of four consecutive years at Ravenhill were dashed at a damp Cran pitch in Fivemiletown. The two sides had met a couple of months earlier with the Valley boys winning by a narrow margin in a league game. But on this ocassion a couple of breakaway scores from a pacey Valley winger plus two Clare men being sin binned meant that the Seconds who were without their formidable skipper Jonny Birkmyre were under pressure. They did make a bright start with a drop goal from Ian Russell and the pack were making ground but lost flanker Coburn within minutes to the first yellow card. The home side made use of their advantage to go in for a converted try to go ahead but the Seconds hit back with a good back movement which saw centre Chris Gillan racing through to get a try that was converted by Russell. But once more the visitors got on the wrong side of the referee and number eight Kirk Johnston was yellow carded. The Tyrone team again made use of the numerical advantage to get a try with the conversion giving them a narrow 14-10 lead at the interval.

Unfortunately an early breakaway score from the home winger gave the Valley a 21-10 lead that crated more pressure for the Clare but the pack took the game to them and drove into the home 22 where Purdy and Russell released the backs and David Crawford got in at the corner for a try which Russell just failed to convert. Clogher made the issue secure when their winger raced away for a try to put them clear at 28-15 and they held on to the finish to go on to the second round of the Cup. For the seconds there were excellent performances up front by the back row of Coburn,Johnston and Norton plus Heaney and in the backs Purdy had another fine game at the base of the scrum with Crawford and Gillan always a threat in midfield.
SUCCESSFUL PRESIDENTS DINNER–On Friday night Ballyclare R.F.C. President Willie Shaw was host at the Cloughan clubhouse for a very enjoyable Annual Presidents Night. There was a turnout of eighty with a good number of Presidents from several other clubs but at least three of the local clubs were absent. Also present were a number of sponsors and club officials. It was particularly pleasing to have Laurence Caldwell attending as he is this years Ulster President and only the second man from the Clare to hold this key position. Following a fine dinner there was a witty speech by Club President Willie Shaw followed by Branch President Laurence Caldwell ,Pat McCudden and finally the Mayor of Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb.
Saturday Fixtures–1st XV v Enniskillen (home) with a pre match lunch–this is a vital game for the Clare to keep up the pressure in the top three places in Qualifying 2 with the two teams on the same points at present. 2nd XV v Banbridge 3rds (away); 3rd XV v Portadown 3rds (away); 4th Xv v Harlequins 4ths (away);

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