Match Report by Andrew Montgomery
Hinch travelled to Armagh Rugby Club knowing that a win would crown them Ulster League champions and would take them through to the semi-final of the All-Irelands.
Right from the kick-off the strong Monaghan side put pressure on Hinch’s line and after several phases of strong forward play, Monaghan took the lead through a converted penalty. This was swiftly followed by a try through the powerful Monaghan skipper which was converted to give the Southern side a convincing 10-0 lead.
This obviously boosted the Hinch side into life as shortly afterwards they too converted a penalty, through Andy Simpson. The score remained at 10-3 until half time despite Hinch threatening to score on several occasions.
The second half saw the Hinch side finally start playing like they have been all season and shortly into the half a well worked move opened up space for Luc Bonnargent and the centre needed no second invitation to step and dance his way to the line. A solid conversion from No. 8 Andy Simpson brought Hinch right back into the game and the scores stood at 10-7.
The Hinch defence held out well whilst defending some great plays from Monaghan but several mistakes allowed Hinch to score twice more through the centres, Eamon McNaulty and Luc Bonnargent again, to take a 22-10 lead. Monaghan fought to the end and earned another 3 points for their troubles but a resilient Hinch side saw the game through and secured their position as U17 league winners of Ulster and have booked a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals.
Special mentions must go to the Monaghan side who pushed and fought all game and also to the ref who allowed the game to flow as much as possible. And lastly to the coaches Charlie Knox, Patrice Bonnargent and Chris Stevenson who have endlessly devoted their skills and time to getting the boys to where they are.
U14 XV LOSE OUT TO TOURISTS
Hinch U14 XV : 19 Newcastle School 20
Mervyn Keers Reports from Ballymacarn Park
Ballymacarn Park welcomed a touring side from Newcastle School for Boys, coached by former Hinch player David Graham, on Saturday morning to play an U14 representative side. The weather was perfect for the game with a bit of a breeze blowing from the clubhouse and after winning the toss the Hinch side elected to play into the wind in the first half, but straight from the off it was evident that they were going to be in for a bit of a battle.
The Newcastle pack were first to every tackle and were dominating the set pieces and as a result the Hinch boys really struggled to get their hands on the ball. The Hinch line battle hard to repel the Newcastle attack, but were really get caught for numbers out wide and they were failing to compete around the fringes and as a result Newcastle were able to run in 3 unanswered scores in the first half, fortunately their out half had left his kicking boots at home, and their lead was only 15-0.
A change of personnel at half time saw an improvement in the Hinch sides’ game, and Matty McClelland ran in a score under the posts, which he duly converted to bring the score to 15-7. The Hinch backs were certainly getting more ball now and were using it well and McClelland ran in his second, but surprisingly missed his conversion, to make it 15-12. With 10 minutes left to play McClelland was yellow carded for a high tackle and with Hinch down to 14 Newcastle capitalised by adding another unconverted try to make it 20-12. In the dying minutes Lee Spence ran in under the posts for the home side, and with the conversion added the score was now 20-19. Hinch continued to pressure, but the whistle blow for full time to seal the win for the visitors.
The two teams and their coaches retired to the clubhouse for a bite to eat and Hinch captain Scott Magowan presented his opposite number with a Hinch tie and t-shirt as a momento of their visit.
Congratulations To Nevin Spence
John Dickson Reports from Ballymacarn Park
Hinch centre Nevin Spence put in a superb display on Friday night in Althone when he represented Ireland U20 in the 6 Nations against Scotland U20. The Irish defeated Scotland 44-15 to win the championship, second-placed England needed a 47-point winning margin in order to knock Ireland off top spot. They recorded a victory but it was a slim one as they edged out the French on a 47-31 scoreline in Saint Nazaire.
Nevin has started in all the Irish fixtures during the campaign and he has been one of the stand out players from an Irish and Ulster point of view. Having recently signed a development contract with Ulster Rugby, the young Hinch centre was the talk of Croke Park on Saturday. Now that the International season has ended, Hinch coach Derek Suffern will be anxious to get Nevin back into Hinch colours.
Nevin’s performance on Friday night was recognised with his ‘ESB Man of the Match’ award which was presented by Ms. Georgina Kenny (ESB) along with Buccaneers President Ray Duffy.