Carrickfergus RFC U15s Are Ulster League Champions: Report + Pictures

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Carrickfergus 17-17 Banbridge
(Carrick Champions by virtue of scoring the first try.)


Carrickfergus RFC U15s forwards coach Jimmy McTeggart has always said nothing is impossible and even though the discerning eye would judge it highly unlikely that a bunch of 13 year olds could win the Ulster U15League Championship it came to pass right on cue for the Carrick men at Lisburn R.F.C. on Saturday.
The men in red had travelled a long road through the Ulster Elite League and a tough semi against an enormous and talented Virginia outfit the previous week to feature in the Ulster Youth Rugby showpiece at Blaris.

If you believe that only Schools Cup and Grammar rugby provides quality, this game would shatter that particular illusion. There is no doubt that both those contenders had talent, strength and commitment to burn. There was no place for the faint heart or faltering ability in this encounter and both teams treated the huge crowd to a feast of rugby that they had scant right to witness for free!

Carrick played with the wind but it was Banbridge who played with fierce defence and set their stall out early in the counter-rucking that was a feature of their game. The Reds turned down two opportunities to shoot at goal and instead Neil Beggs, John Stewart and big Matty Fisher softened up the Bann defence. Banbridge were not going to take the onslaught lying down. Eventually Matthew Fisher did break free and the big second row deservedly put Carrick ahead scoring wide on the right. Wallace missed the conversion but John Turner, Jake Gardiner and Cody Surgenor turned up the heat on the Co. Down side.With the lineout functioning well Beggs and Fisher proved menacing on the Banbridge throw.

Banbridge posed a big threat in midfield and inside centre Cameron Cromie made several forays into Carrick territory before Banbridge scored the equaliser on the right touchline.

Halftime, Carrickfergus 5-5 Banbridge

5 a piece and the prospect of a thrilling second half to come. Carrick coach Michael Dickson pointed out that his pack had been pushed around too often in the first period and asked for some physicality in round two and he didn’t have to wait long for the request to be answered.
In a vastly improving scrum John Stewart took a trade mark strike against the head and Reece Berry sprinted clear for Corey Kelly and Glenn Cunningham to carry play with the aid of the rest of the pack in a blinding passage of play from one 22 to the other setting up to the stage for moment of the match. Connor Cambridge whipped the ball to half back partner Sam Wallace ,what happened next can only be described as a moment of flabbergasting genius as Wallace twisted and turned leaving half a dozen defenders in his wake as he dived over under the posts with the crowd open mouthed and screaming in delight. Wallace converted his own try.

Credit to the Bann men as they launched straight into the counter attack but Jake Porter, Carrick’s talisman in midfield carried brutally to set up big Fisher to stride clear and score on the wide right.
Banbridge finished? Absolutely not. More rucking from the Bann blues set up their lightning outside centre to strike back into the left corner and spark a revival of fortunes for the Down men. After severe pressure Cambridge fired the ball to Wallace and his attempted clearance was charged down for Banbridge No.8 to score a converted try.
17 a-piece and with the crowd attempting to draw breath, Banbridge again surged downfield but Dylan McDowell fielded the ball and beat 3 onrushing attackers and made safe touch. On the final whistle confusion reigned for a few seconds before Carrick were declared champions of Ulster on the first try scored rule.
This is the first time that Carrick have been champions and what a day out it was for them. Mark Kidd, Carrick’s Youth boss was delighted in a post match interview, “I think the myth that Ulster Youth can’t play rugby has been blown away today. Both these sides have fantastic talent and it is a big pity that Banbridge lost this way. Eight local schools are represented in this Carrick team and thanks to the IRFU Ulster Branch; we have a development officer to attract talent to Carrick R.F.C. where we are trying to become the club in the community. Today was a fantastic advertisement for youth rugby in the province.”
Man of the match, Matty Fisher.
Spoon of Doom, Cody Surgenor.

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