Domestic Rugby preview for Sat 12th Jan 2019 by George Millar

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Holders City of Armagh overcame Rainey OB by five tries to three to win their Senior Cup Semi Final 31 – 15 at the Palace Grounds where they will face a Ballymena team they defeated 17 – 13 in their first Senior Cup Final win in 2017/18. Ballymena left it late to book their place with out half Timmy Small converting a late penalty to win their tie 22 – 20 against Ballynahinch at Eaton Park. Ballymena have contested two of the last three finals losing both to City of Armagh and Ballynahinch. It has been quite a remarkable turn around in the fortunes of this Ballymena team after losing four from five of their opening games in the AIL. They have bounced back winning five from six matches to move off 10th place in Div 1B of the AIL. Again a late win over City of Armagh 24 – 20 in the Ulster Premiership league has secured their place in this league with City of Armagh relegated to Div 2. City of Armagh remain the highest placed Ulster team in Div 1B as they battle it out with Malone, Ballynahinch, Banbridge and Ballymena to secure promotion to Div 1A next season. It has been a relentless seven weeks without a break for the Orchard County side with the All Ireland Bateman Cup semi Final coming up against Connacht champions Buccaneers at the Palace Grounds this weekend followed by Round 10 of the AIL on the 19th January. With both teams in good form we can be sure spectators will be treated to another entertaining Final at the Kingspan stadium on Friday 8th February 2019.

Since 2010/11 season the winners of the Senior Cup in the four provinces have contested the Bateman Cup semi – finals with no Ulster team yet to win the Cup. Both Ballymena in 2012 and Dungannon in 2011 reached the Final only to lose out to Garryowen and Bruff. Can City of Armagh make the final this year after losing to Cork Constitution 20 – 13 in the semi final last season. Once again City of Armagh have home advantage when they welcome Connacht Senior Cup champions Buccaneers to the Palace Grounds this week. The Athlone side required a late penalty to defeat Galway Corinthians 16 – 14 in the Connacht final at Dubarry Park last Saturday. I hope all Club supporters make the effort to get along to the Palace Grounds to get behind City of Armagh on Saturday. What pleasure we all would take in seeing an Ulster team reach the Final of the Bateman Cup.

Congratulations to Malone out half Callum Smith and City of Armagh second row Peter Starrett who have been selected for the Ireland Club International squad to play two fixtures against Scotland Clubs on the 1st and 8th February 2019.

There were no surprises in the eight 1st Rd matches played at the weekend. Previous holders Clogher Valley won a closely contested game at Kilraughts Road against Ballymoney 18 – 10 with the returning Paul Armstrong contributing eight points from the boot. Randalstown won an intensely physical and niggly game with Ards 22 – 0 at Nelisbrook. Div 2 league leaders Limavady held on to win a close game 11 – 10 away to Omagh seconds at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields with scrum half Peter Wilson converting two crucial penalties. Both Lisburn and Lurgan lost out to Ballynahinch seconds 33 – 3 and Banbridge seconds 39 – 24 at Blaris and Rifle Park. One of the Cup favourites City of Armagh seconds proved too strong for Rainey OB seconds at Hatrick Park winning 56 – 7 with centre Chris Cousens contributing 21 points. At the Craig Thompson stadium Ballymena seconds were made to work hard for their 26 – 16 win over City of Derry seconds with visitors centre Sam Millar kicking 16 x points. What pleased Ballymena coach John Nicholl was that all 17 players playing for the seconds were Ballymena boys. In the final tie involving two Senior second xv sides from Provincial One – Dungannon held on to win 29 – 20 over Bangor seconds. What will be pleasing for the Bangor coaches was the appearance of Gareth Millar at out half after being out injured for 12 months.

The draw was made for the second round of the River Rock Towns Cup tonight.

Strabane v City of Armagh seconds
Dungannon seconds v Enniskillen
Carrickfergus v Randalstown
Ballymena seconds v Coleraine
Clogher Valley v Limavady
Portadown v Larne
Ballynahinch seconds v Ballyclare
Dromore v Banbridge seconds.

All ties to be played on or before Saturday 2nd February 2019

The news in Div 1 has been dominated by the coaching changes taking place at Carrickfergus and Portadown. Both Davy Scott and Michael Rainey have been replaced as coaches after a dismissal league run with the team only winning one from their opening nine league games. Warren McClean has been appointed Head coach at Carrick as he assembles a new coaching team to keep the 1st xv in Div 1. Carrick find themselves in 7th place with three points separating them, Enniskillen, CIYMS and Coleraine in the bottom four places. In his first game in charge Warren McClean takes his players to Enniskillen this weekend for a must win game for both teams. Portadown have appointed Stuart Lamb as their Head coach to replace Richard Hedley who is stepping back due to other commitments. I understand Richard will still be available to help out after nine seasons as Head coach at the Chambers Park club. Despite reaching the River Rock Towns Cup Final last season it required a playoff win against Randalstown for Portadown to keep their place in Div 1. After a poor league run this season Stuart Lamb moved into a coaching role at the club prior to the league game at CIYMS on the 17th November 2018. Despite having to play five back to back league games away from home Portadown have won three from four of their last four games and complete their block of five away games at Grosvenor this weekend. A win for Portadown could see them compete with Grosvenor and Cooke for a top four finish this season. What impact will these changes have on the remaining fixtures in this league with teams battling it out for a top four finish along with the bottom four teams embroiled in a relegation battle to avoid finishing in 9th and 10th place. The 10th place team is automatically relegated with the 9th place team facing a Playoff to keep their place in Div 1.

Stuart Lamb will be assisted by Mark ‘Chunka’ Neilly with Neil Irwin continuing as 1st xv Manager. Despite his team winning 59 – 28 at Cooke last week he was very disappointed to see his players allow Cooke to score two further tries and pick up a bonus point for scoring four tries when they were leading 59 – 14. He and his coaching team have sat down with the players and asked them to buy into the ambitions of the club to finish in the top four this season and target a return to the AIL the following season. The response from the players has been very positive with increasing numbers attending training. One area the players have been working hard on is developing that continuity and structure in their play between the forwards and backs. Leadership and communication on the pitch has been addressed with young out half Brett Fleck now playing a key role alongside Captain Gary Hall. Stuart Lamb is a qualified Strength and Conditioning coach and runs his own Gym. He has been working hard with the players to improve their fitness levels. His policy is if you don’t train you will not be selected to play for the 1st xv. He felt the games against CIYMS and Dromore were work in progress with the players able to play to two different game plans in their wins against Enniskillen and Cooke. After the match against Grosvenor the coaches will be targeting wins against Ballyclare and Instonians at Chambers Park. These games will show how much progress the team has made.

Last weekend leaders Ballyclare and second place Instonians picked up bonus wins against Enniskillen and Coleraine with one point separating the two teams in their pursuit of the league title. Third place Dromore did not play last weekend with 4th place Grosvenor picking up a valuable bonus point in their win at CIYMS. Cooke who were being viewed as potential top four finishers were surprisingly defeated by Portadown at Shawsbridge 59 – 28. A result that sent shockwaves through the division. With Carrickfergus not playing and the bottom three teams all losing the remaining matches particularly those involving the top four and the bottom four teams could decide their final league positions.

The one match everybody is looking forward to is the meeting of Instonians and Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup Holders Dromore at Shawsbridge this Friday night. Dromore would only be one point behind Instonians and two behind leaders Ballyclare if the points deducted in their match against CIYMS were reinstated. No decision has yet been made on the Dromore Appeal by the Ulster Branch. You can see how important the outcome of this match is to both sides if they have ambitions to win the league. Expect one of the biggest crowds for a club match to be present on the side lines at Shawsbridge on Friday night.
The remaining matches in Div 1 are to be played on Saturday with so much at stake. Grosvenor v Portadown. Ballyclare knowing they can’t afford to slip up against a CIYMS side you feel will end their losing run such is the talent in the squad. Bottom side Coleraine will be targeting visitors Cooke with the outcome of the match at Mullaghmeen crucial to both Enniskillen v Carrickfergus. Every match has become a Cup Final for the ten teams in this league.

All ten teams return to league action this weekend. The standout match is the game at Roughfort between Academy and Randalstown with six points separating the two teams with Randalstown having a game in hand. Big match for both teams with so much at stake. Leaders Limavady travel to 6th place Ards and will be targeting a maximum five points at Hamilton Park. Clogher Valley are at Lurgan and again will be targeting maximum points. Both UUC and Lisburn meet on the North coast with the students needing a win to have any chance of keeping their place in Div 2 next season with five points separating the two teams.

Leaders Donaghadee make the journey to Newforge to play 3rd place PSNI. They have a 23 point advantage over the PSNI and remain 13 points ahead of second place Monaghan with nine league games left to play.

Weekend Results/ Team Lists Saturday 5th January 2019

City of Armagh 31 Rainey OB 15
City of Armagh team: 1. Eoin O’Hagan, 2. Jonathan Morton, 3. Philip Fletcher, 4. Peter Starrett, 5. Josh McKinley, 6. James Hanna, 7. James Morton, 8. Neil Faloon, 9. Harry Doyle, 10. Cormac Fox, 11. Ryan Purvis, 12. Evin Crummie, 13. Chris Colvin (Capt), 14. Andrew Willis, 15. Timmy McNiece, 16. Oisin Kiernan, 17. Andrew Smyth, 18. Gareth McNiece, 19. Shea O’Brien, 20. Johnny Pollock.

Points scorers: Andrew Willis 2x tries, Neil Faloon, Timothy McNiece, Chris Colvin 1 x try each, Cormac Fox 3 x cons

Rainey OB team: 1. Kieran Donaghy, 2. Brad Roberts, 3. Aidan McSwiggan, 4. John McCusker, 5. Michael McCusker, 6. Paul Pritchard (Capt), 7. Charlie Clarke, 8. George Fritz, 9. Jason Bloomfield, 10. Andrew Magrath, 11. Ciaran Devlin, 12. Andrew Browne, 13. Damien McMurray, 14. Andrew Donaghy, 15. Michael O’Neill, 16. Jack McIntosh, 17. Fintan Quinn, 18. Andrew Harbinson, 19, Michael Caithness, 20. Scott McLean.

Points scorers: Damien McMurray, Ciaran Devlin, Andrew Browne 1 x try each.

Ballymena 22 Ballynahinch 20
Ballymena team: 1. Josh Bill, 2. Jonny Spence, 3. Chris Cundell, 4. David Whann, 5. JJ McKee, 6. Connor Smyth, 7. Willie McKay, 8. James Gallagher, 9. Glenn Baillie, 10. Timothy Small, 11. Jonny McMullen, 12. Darrell Montgomery, 13. Matthew Norris, 14. Dean Reynolds, 15. Rodger McBurney, 16. Andrew Ferguson, 17. Nacho Clandero Crespo, 18. Connor White, 19. Jack Fleming, 20. Jonny Rossborough.

Points scorers: Jonny McMullen, Connor Smyth 1 x try each, Timmy Small 1 x try, 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

Ballynahinch team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Jonny Blair, 4. Tom Martin, 5. Thomas Donnan, 6. Bradley Luney, 7. Ollie Loughead, 8. Keith Dickson, 9. Aaron Cairns, 10. Ryan Wilson, 11. Connor Phillips, 12. Robin Harte, 13. Ross Adair, 14. Richard Reaney, 15. Paddy Wright, 16. Campbell Classon, 17. Conor Piper, 18. Gareth Gill, 19. Hilton Gibbons, 20. Lewis Finlay.

Points s corers: Ross Adair, Connor Phillips 1 x try each, Richard Reaney 2 x cons and 2 x pens.

Randalstown 22 Ards 0
Randalstown team: 1. Matty McBrien, 2. Scott Stevenson. 3. Gary Hume, 4. Kyle Hetherington, 5. Scott McClenaghan, 6. Ian Hume. 7. Peter Knowles, 8. David Smith (Capt), 9. Tommy Holland, 10. Martin Connolly, 11. Coby Mason, 12. Dan McGlade, 13. Conor Murray, 14. Eoin Letters, 15. Michael Smith, 16. Marty O’Neill,17. Jonny Fullerton.

Points scorers: Tommy Holland, Coby Mason, Marty O’Neill 1 x try each, Martin Connolly 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

Ards team: 1. Andrew Foster, 2. Tom Arthur Donnan, 3. Matty Kane, 4. Ross Torney, 5. Gareth McBurney, 6. Jonny Harris, 7. Danny Patton, 8. Graeme Taylor, 9. Alex Hendrickse, 10. Mark Banford, 11. Adam Faloon, 12. Trevot Devlin, 13. Jamie Cardwell, 14. Michael Taylor, 15. Paul Cox, 16. Adam McKee, 17. Jimmy Grey.

Omagh seconds 10 Limavady 11
Omagh seconds team: 1. Nathan Kilfedder, 2. Mark Hopton Brown, 3. Ethan McKeown, 4. Richard Harper, 5. James Sproule, 6. Dean Porter, 7. Jack Mitchell, 8. Kaine Holden, 9. Eoin Murnaghan, 10. Kyle Beattie, 11. Peter Scott, 12. Alan Heaney, 13. Dean Kane, 14. Stephen MacLaine, 15. Ali Beckett, 16. Glen McKinley, 17. Ryan Mitchell.

Points scorers: Mark Hopton Brown and Ryan Mitchell 1 x try each.

Limavady team: 1. Clive Scott, 2. Luke Montgomery, 3. John McCollum, 4. John Purcell, 5. Dylan Purdy, 6. Ben Riley, 7. Perry Semple, 8. Daniel Irvine, 9. Peter Wilson, 10. Gavin Martin, 11. Stewart Roddy, 12. Jody McMurray, 13. Jamie Millar, 14. Jason Kerr, 15. Graham McAleese, 16. Michael Rice, 17. Stuart Simpson.

Points scorers: Stewart Roddy 1 x try, Peter Wilson 2 x Pens

Rainey OB seconds 7 City of Armagh seconds 56
Rainey OB seconds team:

City of Armagh seconds team: 1. Andrew Morton, 2. Jack Treanor, 3. Kurtis Sherry, 4. Willy Martin, 5. Stephen Morton (Capt), 6. Josh Kennedy, 7. Ryan Morton. 8. Ollie Millar, 9. Gerard Treanor, 10. Phil Pollack, 11. Dan Reynolds, 12. Chris Cousens, 13. Matthew Reaney, 14. Stuart Lester, 15. Luke Crozier, 16. Archie McAlpine, 17. Gareth Megaw.

Points scorers: Jack Treanor 3 x tries, Josh Kennedy, Matthew Reaney 2 x tries each, Chris Cousens 1 x try and 8 x cons (21 x points)

Lisburn 3 Ballynahinch seconds 33

Lisburn team: 1. Jamie Dickson (Capt), 2. Matthew Nelson, 3. Phil Jefferson, 4.Cameron Brough, 5. Andy Barron, 6. James Cromie, 7. Adam Jameson, 8. Andy Hamilton, 9. Danis Manso, 10. Richard McGregor, 11. Conor Gascoigne, 12. Ryan hill, 13. Jake Bebbington, 14. Kitione Dominiqbau, 15. Epi Ratu, 16. Craig Lewis, 17. Matt Edgar.

Points s corers: Richard McGregor 1 xpen

Ballynahinch seconds: 1. Kelvin Hamilton, 2. Graeme McKitterick, 3. Harry McCormick, 4. Sean Sweeney, 5. Matthew McKelvey, 6. Kieran McCauley, 7. Stuart Elwood, 8. Brian Howard, 9. Ben McMullan, 10. Matthew Norton (Capt), 11. Jonathan McCoubrey, 12. Eamon McAnulty, 13. C Pringle, 14. Ronan Patterson, 15. James McBriar, 16. Ralph Mealiff, 17. Scott Connolly.

Points scorers: Harry McCormick, Graeme McKitterick, Ralph Mealiff and Ben McMullan 1 x try each, 1 x penalty try + con, Matthew Norton 2 x cons.

Dungannon seconds 29 Bangor seconds 20
Dungannon seconds team: 1. Ross Stewart, 2. Jamie McNeill, 3. James Gamble, 4. Matthew Calvert, 5. Joseph Cashel, 6. Stephen Todd, 7. Peter Doran, 8. Conor Hall, 9. Adam Evans, 10. Gareth McGonigle. 11. Andrew Lee, 12. Bradley Mulholland, 13. Peter Cashel, 14. Adam Roache, 15. Caolan Mulgrew, 16. Matthew Stockdale, 17. Jack Ravey.

Points scorers: Andrew Lee 2 x tries, Stephen Todd, Bradley Mulholland, Jack Ravey 1 x try each. Adam Evans 2 x cons

Bangor seconds team: 1. Charlie Clegg, 2. Andrew Jackson, 3. Benjamin Worthington, 4. Craig Burton, 5. Matt Nesbitt, 6. Jamie Clegg, 7. Ethan Murray, 8. Michael Weir, 9. Shaun Fair, 10. Gareth Millar, 11. Jamie Mendez, 12. Keith Rosson, 13. Charlie Blair, 14. Ned Stewart, 15. Oscar Yandell, 16. Evan Wellard – McMillan, 17. Matthew Baillie.

Points scorers: Charlie Clegg, Ned Stewart, Jamie Mendez 1 x try each, Gareth Millar 1 x con and 1 x pen.

City of Derry seconds 16 Ballymena seconds 26
City of Derry seconds team: 1.Paddy Owens, 2. A Michaelides, 3.Ben Pollin, 4. Jack Townley, 5. C Sproule, 6. Ross Harkin, 7. Aaron Derry, 8. Jonny Lyons, 9. Ben Berber, 10. Callum O’Hagan, 11. David Jackson, 12. Matthew Orr, 13. Colin Campbell, 14. N Cole, 15. Ian Bratton, 16. J Toland, 17. A McDuff.

Points scorers: Ben Berber, Ian Bratton 1 x try each, Matthew Orr 2 x pens.

Ballymena seconds team: 1. Ashton Logan, 2. James Taggart, 3. Houston Bonnar, 4. Jonny Browne, 5. Mark Foster, 6. Ryan Mattison, 7. James McClean, 8. Matthew Dick, 9. Jack lewis, 10. Steven Shaw, 11. Aaron Stirling, 12. Sam Millar, 13. Alan Smyth, 14. Owen Dick, 15. Louis McGuickan, 16. Jack Francis, 17. Aidy Hamilton.

Points scorers: Aidy Hamilton, Matthew Dick 1 x try each, Sam Millar 4 x pens and 2 x cons. ( 16 x points)

Banbridge seconds 39 Lurgan 24
Banbridge seconds team: 1. Andrew Jackson, 2. Paul Ross, 3. Scott Cromie, 4. Keith Adams, 5. Alex Megaw, 6. John Wilson, 7. Dale Carson, 8. Ryan Hughes, 9. Neil Kilpatrick, 10. Ben Thompson, 11. Callum Russell, 12. Hugo Harbinson, 13. Ross Cartmill, 14. Jordan McKibben, 15. Chris Patterson, 16. Martin Vorster, 17. Frazer Wallace.

Points scorers: John Wilson, Andrew Jackson 2 x tries each, Paul Ross, Hugo Harbinson 1 x try each, Neil Kilpatrick 3 x cons and 1 x pen.

Lurgan team: 1. Marty Follis, 2. Lee Allen, 3. Josh Lyness, 4. Richard Shilliday, 5. Neil Adamson, 6. Lewis Lawson, 7. Ryan Osbourne, 8. Dean Wilson (Capt), 9. Chris Jenks, 10. Dylan Gill, 11. Richard Hull, 12. Jack Wilson, 13. Ben McIIwaine, 14. Ryan Mooney, 15. Stephen Nolan. 16. Matthew McConaghy, 17. Ryan Emerson.

Points scorers: Richard Hull 3 x tries, Ben McIIwaine 1 x try, Stephen Nolan 2 x cons

Ballymoney 10 Clogher Valley 18
Ballymoney team: 1. Matthew Blair, 2. Kenny McAneaney, 3. Scott Gamble, 4. Jack Hyndman, 5. Danny Platt, 6. Daniel Ramage, 7. Garvin Bellingham, 8. Jordan Munnis, 9. Matthew Steele, 10. John Hyndman, 11. Matthew Bell, 12. Martin Irwin, 13. Andrew Young, 14. Michael Armstrong, 15. James Cleland, 16. Jack Dowey, 17. Lewis Wray.

Points scorers: Matthew Steele 1 x try, john Hyndman 1 x con and 1 x pen

Clogher Valley team: 1. Philip Hopper, 2. Kyle Cobane, 3. Neil Henderson, 4. Eugene Mckenna, 5. Michael Treanor, 6. David Sharkey, 7. Aaron Dunwoody, 8. Ryan Wilson, 9. Neil Trotter, 10. Paul Armstrong, 11. Dylan Crawford, 12. Reece Smyton, 13. Fleming Agnew, 14. Josh Coulter, 15. Ewan Haire, 16. Josh Fegan, 17. Mark McKenna.

Points scorers: Kyle Cobane, Ryan Wilson 1 x try each, Paul Armstrong 2 x pens and 1 x con.

Strabane, Larne, Coleraine, Carrickfergus and Ballyclare all received a Bye.


Ballyclare 31 Enniskillen 5
Ballyclare team: 1. Rory Henderson, 2. Jack Black, 3. Al Boyd, 4. Robert Boyd, 5. Grant Bartley (Capt), 6. Ryan Tweed, 7. Gary Weatherup, 8. Dave Clarke, 9. Ryan McIIwaine, 10. Robbie Reid, 11. Owen Kirk, 12.Joel McBride, 13. Willie Stewart, 14. Stuart Cusick, 15. Gary Clotworthy, 16. Dean Jones, 17. Niall Lawther.

Points scorers: Gary Clotworthy, Ryan McIIwaine 1 x try each, Robbie Reid 3 x tries, 3 x cons ( 21 x points)

Enniskillen team:1. Alan Ferguson, 2. Ryan Cathcart (Capt), 3. Gavin Warrington, 4. Jamie Kelly, 5. Gavin Parke, 6. Jack Rutledge, 7. John Arnold, 8. James Carleton, 9. Patrick McCleery, 10. Adam Lendrum, 11. Jarlath Maguire, 12. Conor Keys, 13. James Ferguson, 14. Conor Hoy, 15. Mark O’Shea, 16. Dave patton, 17. Gary Thorton.

Points scorers: Mark O’Shea 1 x try

CIYMS 17 Grosvenor 24
CIYMS team: 1. John Kavanagh, 2. Scott McNarry, 3. Timothy Atcheson, 4. Cory Tipping, 5. Paddy Aiken (Capt), 6. Scott Dowle, 7. Jason Gilliland, 8. Shane Moffatt, 9. Cameron Stewart, 10. Paddy Beverland, 11. Gareth Peden, 12. Matthew Kilgore, 13. Nathan Burns, 14. Michael Fry, 15. Jonny Haldane, 16. Freddie Kaylo Joe, 17, Harry Jenkins.

Points scorers: Gareth Peden, Nathan Burns 1 x try each, Matthew Kilgore 2 x cons and 1 x pen

Grosvenor team: 1. Mark Rainey, 2. Stuart Smyth, 3. Pearce Jamison, 4. Peter Dawson, 5. Andrew Kelly (Capt), 6. Sam Purdon, 7. Ben Davies, 8. Conor McKee, 9. Allen McCluggage, 10. Peter Davison, 11. Dean Swift, 12. Jos McConkey, 13. Jamie McMullan, 14. Cameron Knell, 15. Matthew Fitzsimons, 16. Adam Skelton, 17. Matthew Allen.

Points s corers: Andrew Kelly, Matthew Fitzsimons, Peter Davison 1 x try each, Allen McCluggage 1 x try and 1 x con, Adam Skelton 1 x con

Coleraine 12 Instonians 41
Coleraine team: 1. Dijon McCorkell, 2. Andy McKee, 3. Aidy Nevin, 4. DD McAllister, 5. Simon McLean, 6. Bernard Mullan, 7. Brian Hughes, 8. Josh Christie, 9. Ryan Gillan, 10. Bruce Kirkpatrick, 11. Stevie Callaghan, 12. Jonny Crowe, 13. Gavin Piennar, 14. Bradley Dempster, 15. Brian Cochrane, 16. Chris Breadon, 17. Steven Dickey.

Points scorers: Bradley Dempster 1 x try, 1 x penalty + con.

Instonians team: 1. John Andress, 2. Conor Gallagher, 3. Alan Whitten, 4. Sean Shuttleworth, 5. Tom Matthews, 6. Johnny Mooney, 7. Paddy Bell, 8. Massimo Kiri Kiri, 9. Paul Marshall, 10. Richard McCarthy, 11. Colm Cregan, 12. David Scott (Capt), 13. Matthew Kilpatrick, 14. Donal Moloney, 15. Andrew Keane, 16. James Martin, 17. Wayne Kelly.

Points scorers: Donal Moloney, Conor Gallagher, Alan Whitten, John Andress, Davy Scott, Matthew Kilpatrick 1 x try each, Andrew Keane 1 x pen and 3 x cons, Richard McCarthy 1 x con

Cooke 28 Portadown 59
Cooke team: 1. Jonathan Dunning, 2. James Milligan, 3. Russell Hunter, 4. Jonathan Walsh, 5. Declan McClements, 6. Matthew Elliott, 7. Callum Robinson, 8. Jason Lyons, 9. Ryan Flavelle, 10. Alan Gourley, 11. Andrew Nelson, 12. Kyle Mitchell (Capt), 13. Philip Cartmill, 14. Phil Wood, 15. Alex Gourley.

Points scorers: Matthew Elliott, Alex Gourley, Phil Wood, Philip Cartmill 1 x try each, Alan Gourley 4 x cons

Portadown team: 1. Mark Henderson, 2. Robbie Reid, 3. Matty Davison, 4. Danny Alexander, 5. Matt Stevens, 6. Lloyd Gravitt, 7. Jordan Taylor, 8. Gary Hall, 9. Ben Matchett, 10. Brett Fleck, 11. Josh Matchett, 12. Tom Caesar, 13. Mark Adamson, 14. Jack Orr, 15. Luke Ashton, 16. Jonathan Reid, 17. Taylor Tweedie.

Points scorers: Lloyd Gravitt 3 x tries, Matt Stevens 2 x tries, Ben Matchett, Gary Hall 1 x try each, Mark Adamson 2 x tries and 7 x cons ( 24 x points).


City of Armagh (Ulster) v Buccaneers (Connacht)
Garryowen (Munster) v Lansdowne (Leinster)

City of Armagh v Buccaneers
After losing 20 -13 to Cork Constitution in last seasons competition – City of Armagh will be hoping to go one step further this year when they play the Connacht champions Buccaneers at the Palace grounds on Saturday. Talking to Assistant coach Chris Parker his players were delighted to make the final of the First Trust Senior Cup after winning the trophy for the first time last season. It has been a case of the coaches managing the players during the first seven weeks of a ten week block of fixtures before the players get a break on the 2nd February. He describes it as a hectic period with the coaches able to rotate the squad and lessen the workload. The team is still doing well as they chase further silverware this season. It has been a case of keeping the players mentally and physically ready for the challenges each week. It will be a testing time for the club this week with four teams fielding. Chris Parker has spoken about the tremendous support the team has when playing at the Palace Grounds and how it acts as the 16th man. He is hoping the supporters will turn out in large numbers this week to get behind the team on Saturday. He described the match against Rainey OB as ideal preparation for the Buccaneers game. Rainey are a good side and were hard to break down. They were physical up front – particularly around the fringes and breakdown area. He could see why they had won Div 2 of the Ulster Premiership League and were on a six match unbeaten run in the AIL that has them in 3rd place in Div 2B. They like City of Armagh continue to produce young players with Jack McIntosh and Michael O’Neill examples of the young players coming through at Rainey. The lost of their influential Captain Paul Pritchard after five minutes with a finger dislocation was a big blow to their team. In half backs Jason Bloomfield and Andy Magrath they have two very good players.

Over the Xmas period several young players including backs Evin Crummie and Shea O’Brien have been putting their hand up for a starting place on the 1st xv. With Captain Chris Colvin unavailable this week Johnny Pollack is expected to partner up with Evin Crummie in the midfield with Chris Cousens coming into contention after scoring 24 points for the second xv at the weekend. With seven replacements allowed scrum half Gerard Treanor is another player expected to come on to the bench. Harry Boyd remains on the injured list after the Queens game at Xmas.

In the forwards Head coach Willy Faloon will have several difficult calls to make. Robert Whitten returns this week with a number of other players returning from injury to train this week including Paul Mullan, Barry Finn and Nigel Simpson. Back row forward Ryan O’Neill returned to do some light training this week and will see a consultant on his injured knee picked up at a National under age training camp. Prop Daryl Morton will need a couple of weeks to recover from a shoulder injury.

The team wanted another opportunity to play in the Bateman Cup after losing to Cork Constitution last season.

Chris Parker – It is another great day for City of Armagh rugby club. He is looking the team to execute their game plan on Saturday. It will be a huge ask to defeat Buccaneers who defeated City of Armagh 24 – 17 at Dubarry Park in AIL on the 1st December.

Instonians (2) v Dromore (3) Played Friday 11.1.2019. Kick Off 7.30PM
CIYMS (9) v Ballyclare (1)
Coleraine (10) v Cooke (5)
Enniskillen (8) v Carrickfergus (7)
Grosvenor (4) v Portadown (6)

Instonians v Dromore
Head coach John Andress is delighted with the progress his Instonians team have made after losing their opening league game at Dromore in August. Last season much of the burden on the playing side was shouldered by former Ulster player Roger Wilson who moved on at the end of the season. It has been a case of the coach along with Paul Marshall addressing the weaknesses that existed in the squad. The focus for the coaches in the opening months of the season has been working with the players on their fundamentals to improve their set piece, defence and kicking game. With these fundamentals firmly in place scrum half Paul Marshall has been able to use the threat he possesses along with his half breaks and tap penalties to allow the team to play a more open running game. The addition of their two New Zealand players Massimo Kiri Kiri and Cameron Barr to the team has had a considerable impact with the players developing a strong team culture both on and off the pitch in the squad. Whereas in the past the team would have played as individuals there is a desire amongst the players to play for each other and the jersey. The fact that the team have score 11 tries in their last two league matches is a reflection of the progress they have made and their ambitions for the remainder of the season. Discipline was an issue in the recent game against Cooke that was quickly rectified at Coleraine. The focus for the coaches is team discipline and to reduce the number of errors in their game. Instonians are renowned for their set piece strength and have used their advantage in this area to score tries against their opponents. Numbers at training have continued to improve as the coaches build a strong 1st xv squad. One of the pluses in the team has been the centre pairing of Captain David Scott and Matthew Kilpatrick who are regularly on the scoresheet. This had been a problem area in recent seasons for the coaches. An unfamiliar name on the wing has been winger Donal Moloney who has made a big impact since breaking onto the 1st xv. His skills learned from playing Gaelic and his physical presence have been a real asset to the team. The coaches rested Kiwi hooker Cameron Barr last week against Coleraine. He will return to the team for Friday night against Dromore. Winger Ross O’Donnell who has been one of the most consistent players on the team was knocked out again in the Cooke match after experiencing a similar injury against Grosvenor before Xmas. He is now following return to play protocols. Michael Melville who has been unavailable for two months due to injury returned to training this week. Again the coaches will make a late call on his fitness to be involved on Friday night. Just checking on other players at Instonians – both Harry Cleland and Mark Mairs are at Uni in England with Michael Blackwood unavailable to play. Matthew Nelson remains unavailable due to a double concussion.

John Andress – His players are really relishing the opportunity to play Junior Cup winners Dromore on Friday night. He is expecting a physical match knowing his team lost at Barban Hill in August.

Dromore Head coach Jonny Cullen is aware of the enormity of the task his team face on Friday night against Instonians. They are a very good side and have the best set piece unit in the league. Scrum half Lee Steenson has been ruled out for several weeks after fracturing his thumb in the latter stages of the Junior Cup Final against Ballynahinch seconds. His place on the team will be taken by TJ Morris who played on the Instonians 1st xv before signing for Dromore this season. One of the big positives for the coaches at Dromore has been how two young props Tom Lyttle and Justy Savage have stepped into the front row to perform in the absence of regular props Mark Hylands and Jonny Simpson. Jonny Simpson remains unavailable long term with Mark Hylands expected to make himself available again next week. Andrew Black continues to provide front row cover that has included seeing the prop playing 60/70 minutes in recent matches. Hooker Fraser Mulholland is expected to start in place of Stuart Sloan with who will start alongside Andrew Black on the bench to be finalised on Thursday night. Otherwise the team will be on similar lines to the team that played in the Junior Cup Final.

Jonny Cullen – His players have no entitlement to the league and will have to win at Shawsbridge on Friday night to challenge for the league title. He is expecting his players to give it their all against a very well drilled Instonians team who have the best set piece in the league.

When the teams met at Barban Hill on the 25th August Dromore won 16 – 5.

CIYMS V Ballyclare
The home side are still searching for their first league win and face league leaders Ballyclare at Belmont. CIYMS coaches Gareth Fry and Darren Barbour will be aware that the two league defeats Ballyclare have suffered this season were away from home against Dromore and Instonians.
CI Head coach Gareth Fry is also aware his team have lost several league matches by small margins. It is a very frustrating situation for both the coaches and the players. Disappointed to hear CIYMS have lost their Fijian prop Radula Freddykalo Joe to a serious hip injury picked up in the Grosvenor match. He suffered a dislocated hip and fractured femur that could end his playing career. We all send our best wishes to Joe and wish him a speedy recovery. Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford has asked me to include the best wishes from all at Grosvenor RFC and to wish Joe well in his recovery.
CIYMS are still waiting on a number of injury concerns before the team will be finalised on Thursday night.

When these two teams met at the Cloughan on the 1.9.18 Ballyclare won a high scoring game 32 – 18.

Coleraine v Cooke
Both teams suffered heavy defeats against Instonians and Portadown last weekend. Coleraine are in urgent need of league points to move away from 10th place with Cooke still harbouring ambitions of finishing in the top four. Coleraine Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl has to contend with five injuries picked up by his team against Instonians before finalising his team on Thursday night for this crucial must win league game.

When these two teams met at Shawsbridge on the 21.9.18 Cooke won 39 – 13.

Enniskillen v Carrickfergus
It really is a must win game for Enniskillen this weekend if they are put some distance between themselves, CIYMS and Coleraine as we enter the second half of the season with Enniskillen having played one game more than Carrickfergus. With Carrickfergus appointing Warren McClean as their new Head coach you can expect a reaction from the Carrickfergus team as the new coach looks to get his season up and running with a win. Enniskillen Head coach Stevie Welsh is looking for a better result from his players this week. The coach is delighted by the response from the players to training this week. The squad still have a few injury doubts with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

When these two teams met at the Tom Simms Memorial Fields on the 1.9.18 the match ended in a 19 – 19 draw.

Grosvenor v Portadown
Both teams secured bonus point wins last weekend against CIYMS and Cooke. With new Head coach Stuart Lamb in charge of Portadown we have witnessed a revival with the team winning three from four games away from home. Can they make it four from five when they travel to Gibson Park this week. The coach will have to make a couple of changes this week with both scrum half Ben Matchett and full back Luke Ashton unavailable with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford is most likely to go with the same pack that played at CIYMS. He has a number of backs facing late fitness tests with scrum half Allen McCluggage and centre Jos McConkey their main doubts. Winger David Egner is available and will most likely come into the backline. Adam Skelton made a big impact of the bench last Saturday and will start against Portadown. The schedule for the 1st xv players is very tough as the team have a game every week for the next two months with the rearrangement of the Cooke match. The strength in depth within the playing squad will be needed in all these games.

When both these two teams met at Chambers Park on the 15.9.18 Grosvenor won 22 – 7 picking up a bonus point for scoring four tries.

Ballynahinch seconds v Ballymena seconds
Banbridge seconds v Omagh seconds
Malone seconds v City of Armagh seconds

Academy (2) v Randalstown (4)
Ards (6) v Limavady (1)
Larne (8) v Ballymoney (5)
Lurgan (7) v Clogher Valley (3)
UUC (10) v Lisburn (9)

Academy v Randalstown
Academy Head coach Gareth Lynn is expecting to keep a similar team to the one that defeated Ballymoney 17 – 10. Chris Cooper returns to the squad. He is waiting on a few players to confirm their availability due to work commitments at the weekend. The coach will not be able to finalise his selection until Thursday night. Both the coaches and the players are looking forward to the match with Randalstown. It is always a hard game between the two teams with the last game coming down to one score between the two teams.

Randalstown 1st xv Manager Willie Allen – Saturday should be another good match between both teams with Randalstown just edging out Academy at the beginning of the season. They will be considered favourites with home advantage this time however Willie is expecting another close game if his team play to their full potential. The team will be finalised at training on Thursday night. Second row Dean McCroary missed the game last Saturday with Ards because of flu. Second row David Millar has announced his retirement from the game at 29 yrs. Centre/Winger Jordan Foster will miss Saturday as he is on a skiing trip. There is a doubt over back row Ian Hume who injured his back against Ards with Dean McCroary still a doubt. Apart from those changes the team will be along similar lines to the team that played Ards.

When these two teams met at Nelisbrook on the 25.8.18 Randalstown won a high scoring game 31 – 26 with both teams scoring three tries.

Ards v Limavady

Ards Head coach John West has spoken about the job he is doing to develop strength in depth at the club. He continues to expose young players to 1st xv rugby with the coach conscious that these players need phased in at this level. He is not ready to put players in if they are not ready . It doesn’t do them any good and doesn’t allow the players to get a fair chance to show what they can do. Jimmy Grey was another young player to get game time off the bench at Randalstown. Eight of the second xv have been given game time on the 1st xv and will get more game time before the season ends. What John West and the management team at Ards are trying to achieve is to build depth in their squad and that will take a few years to achieve. Progress is getting players to play for Ards on a Saturday. For John West the best bit is the average age of the playing squad has dropped quite dramatically. He and his coaching team need to be given time to allow the young players to progress. In the Conference league game away to Banbridge seconds on the 8th December the team had 11 players under 23 and won 24 – 12 picking up a bonus point. That’s what we are continuing to build at Ards RFC.

For the match at home to Limavady Jonny Harris has returned to England to complete his PCGE. A few players picked up injuries at Randalstown with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

Limavady Head coach Graeme Eastwood is delighted to see his team top of Div 2 entering 2019. With the work put in by the coaches and players they have now assembled a squad of 30 players who can all play on the 1st xv when required. Graeme is one of the few coaches who supports the Conference league as it gives the coaches the opportunity to play players on the 1st xv such as Graham McAleese and Jason Kerr. An example is when the 1st xv made 11 changes for the Conference league game away to Banbridge seconds on the 15th December and won 27 – 6 picking up a bonus point. The following week the 1st xv went on to defeat Clogher Valley 25 – 3 and pick up a bonus point in the league at the John Hunter Playing Fields. After those wins the coaches give the players two weeks off with players only having one training session before they played Omagh seconds away in the Towns Cup last Saturday winning 11 – 10. The coach has continued his approach of blooding several players at Omagh. As the league stands it is all about his team and the players focusing on themselves. They don’t have to rely on anybody to win the league. It is up to the players to keep performing each week. With the games in hand they picked up 14/15 points before Xmas. Looking at the fixtures in January it is up to the players to pick up maximum points from their league games with the other top three teams involved in fixtures with Academy playing both Randalstown and Clogher Valley. They travel to play Ards this week expecting a physical and nitty gritty game. The team have only themselves to worry about. Limavady have players who can come in and replace injured and unavailable players. A lot of the success this season has been put down to the efforts in the off season to bring players back to play for their home town club. Last Saturday 15/17 players who played against Omagh were Limavady born players. Gavin Martin and Jody McMurray have added quality to the team. All 15 players came through Limavady Grammar and the Clubs Youth Section.

Graeme Eastwood is full of praise for the work done by Peter Wilson Community Development Officer with the Clubs Youth teams and the relationship he has built with Coleraine 1st xv Captain Brian Hughes who has taken over as Head of Rugby at Limavady Grammar School. To ensure the club continues to attract these young players to the club the officials of Limavady RFC are working hard to secure funding to put in place a fully equipped Gym. Such facilities will keep players at the club and help with Strength and Conditioning along with Player Development. One aspect that has pleased the coach is the fitness levels of the players in the squad. When they played Clogher Valley before Xmas the visitors threw everything at his team for 50/60 minutes. When the fitness levels of the Limavady team kicked in Clogher Valley found themselves overwhelmed in the final quarter. He feels his team have yet to play to their full potential this season.

Thirteen players were not involved last Saturday with the coach welcoming back Jim McCartney, Robert Lamberton, Jonny Lees and Matthew Haslett for the trip to Ards this week. Both Darren Corrigan and Rory Squires are completing their PCGE studies in Liverpool with the coaches hoping to have them available for their final 5/6 matches. Scrum half David Craig has been in America and will be available next week with Rohan Mulligan getting game time at Omagh last week. Two long term injured players remain on injured list. Out half Luke Faulkner has not recovered from the ankle ligament injury he sustained against Academy in the league match with Michael Barr needing surgery on his shoulder after dislocating it on his return.

January is a massive month for the team with both the 1st xv and the 2nd xv travelling to play Ards on Sat followed by a trip to Lisburn for both teams. These games will only strengthen the bond between this group of players.

Limavady have already recorded two wins over Ards this season. On the opening day Limavady won their league match 48 – 0. When Ards returned to the John Hunter Playing Fields on the 29.9.18 to play Limavady in the second round of the Junior Cup. Limavady on this occasion won 32 – 12.

Larne v Ballymoney
Head coach Graham Cloke felt his team were competitive in all three matches against Ballymoney, Academy and Randalstown before Xmas. He felt Academy were the best of the three teams they played. Unfortunately the club have run into a real injury crisis with three teams fielding this weekend. The 1st xv are missing Captain Jonny Cole and Gareth Jameson along with BJ McFaul and Arron McBride. Jacob Swan took a knock in the match against Lisburn and found out he had a collapsed lung. Winger Liam Slaughter is another injured player who is ruled out. Jordan Burns remains unavailable with Johnny McKinty unavailable due to work commitments. Former Larne Grammar School 1st xv Captain Al Black will get a run out in the back row with the evergreen Stevie McReynolds taking his place on the bench.

Ballymoney coach Jonny Hanna has a number of players unavailable due to work commitments this week. Scott Gamble, Jack Hyndman and Garvin Bellingham are unavailable in the forwards with Andy Young unavailable in the backs. However the coaches welcome back Captain David McKeeman , Conor Creith, Timmy Woods and John McFetridge who missed the Clogher Valley match. Both Jordan Munnis who started at number 8 and Lewis Wray who came off the bench retain their place in the panel. Although Ballymoney beat Larne before Xmas his players can’t take anything from that game as the weather conditions were atrocious. The team are expecting a very competitive game against Larne with the Glynn never an easy place to win at. To win this match we need to be on our best game and keep errors to a minimum.

In their first meeting at Kilraughts Road on the 15.12.18 the home side Ballymoney won a very close game 12 – 6.

Lurgan v Clogher Valley
Lurgan still have to finalise their selection for this weekend.

Clogher Valley have picked the same 17 players that won at Ballymoney last weekend.

These two sides met on the opening day of the season at the Cran with Clogher Valley winning 17 – 6.

UUC v Lisburn

From Mike Knowles at Lisburn – Lisburn had several players unavailable for the Towns Cup tie with Ballynahinch last Saturday. Noel Hooke will return to the back row with centre Jake Bebbington picking up another injury last week that will rule him out against the students. Craig Walsh will face a late fitness test and will come straight into the team if he comes through to replace Jake Bebbington. Former Captain Matt Edgar made his first appearance of the bench last Saturday and will feature from the bench again this week.

Both teams met at Blaris on the 15.12.18 with Lisburn winning 23 – 0
BHSFP (10) v Virginia (7)
Civil Service (9) v Letterkenny (8)
Holywood (4) v Cavan (11)
Monaghan (2) v Ophir (12)
Newry (6) v Strabane (5)
PSNI (3) v Donaghadee (1)

Another exciting weekend of club fixtures coming up. The two fixtures that stand out are the meeting of City of Armagh and Buccaneers and Instonians v Dromore. What I have noticed in my travels around the clubs is the increasing numbers of supporters coming out to get behind their local Community Rugby Club. Keeping spreading the news. We all have a part to play in promoting the grassroots of club rugby in Ulster each week.