Domestic Rugby Preview for Sat 6th Oct 2018 by George Millar

Domestic Rugby Preview for Sat 6th Oct 2018 by George Millar

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Domestic Rugby Preview for Sat 6th Oct 2018 by George Millar

ALL IRELAND LEAGUE

There were wins for Dungannon. Belfast Harlequins, Bangor and City of Derry with Queens University and Omagh losing by one score. A poor first half performance at MU Barnhall resulted in a 36 -14 defeat for Rainey in round one of the AIL for the Section 2 teams. This weekend we have the five Ulster teams in Section 1 playing their round one matches. They include Ballynahinch, Ballymena, Banbridge, City of Armagh and Malone. With the Celtic Cup ongoing only one player David McCann has been released to Banbridge . It will be interesting to see if players are released or rested after the group matches are completed next week end. For all 12 Ulster clubs it has been a case of the clubs developing and conditioning their own players to compete in the AIL. Progress has been maintained after two successful seasons with the ambition to see one/two of the clubs in Div 1B securing promotion to Div 1A this season. Along with the Connacht clubs we need to see Ulster teams at the top table in Div 1A competing against the Leinster and Munster sides.

With five Ulster teams making up the ten teams in Div 1B supporters will have the opportunity to watch ulster derbies throughout the season. The first of these Ulster derbies will take place at Eaton Park this week when Ballymena host Malone.

The Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup did not disappoint supporters at the weekend. We had Dromore defeating Ballyclare 48 – 29 in a eleven try thriller at Barban Hill. Portadown left it late to win 35 – 25 at Ballymoney. In another titanic tie at Nelisbrook home side Randalstown came up just short against Grosvenor losing 31 – 28 with visitors scrum half Allen McCluggage kicking the crucial points. . In the Belfast derby at Shawsbridge a much changed Instonians side were well beaten 45 – 10 by neighbours Malone seconds with their out half Shane Kelly contributing 20 points. At Blaris in Lisburn the game between the home side and Clogher Valley finished 22 – 22 with extra time being played to produce a winner. It was the boot of out half Richard McGregor who kicked two penalties with Aaron Dunwoody scoring an unconverted try for Clogher Valley to leave Lisburn winners by 28 – 27. In the East Antrim derby Larne upset the form book by defeating Carrickfergus 31 – 22 at the Glynn with new signing Jonny Ogilby scoring two tries. Holders Balynahinch seconds made sure with two late tries to defeat Cooke 32 – 16 with their Captain Matthew Norton kicking five penalties and one conversion in their win. Limavady did not find all their own way against Ards before winning 32 – 12.

The draw for the Quarter Finals was made on Tuesday night.

Larne v Grosvenor

Dromore v Portadown

Malone seconds v Lisburn

Limavady v Ballynahinch seconds

Matches to be played on or before the 20th October.

Interesting to note that three of the four Ulster teams representing Ulster in the AIL Junior Cup – Ballyclare, Carrickfergus and Instonians were knocked out of the Junior Cup on Sat. CIYMS did not enter the Junior Cup this season. This will mean all four Ulster representatives will have the weekend of the 20th October off before the 1st Rd of the AIL Junior Cup is played on Saturday the 27thOctober.

I know a subject I have highlighted in recent weeks and raised over the last couple of seasons is clubs facing no games with the Quarter Finals of the Junior Cup on the 20th October and the AIL Junior Cup on the 27th October. I am told that clubs do have the opportunity to rearrange games and bring them forward where there is agreement between the two clubs. This situation will arise in November with further rounds in these two competitions. I would have thought it would have been in the best interests of clubs to play fixtures this side of Xmas where the opportunity exists with firm/dry pitches. Annually we are facing a backlog of fixtures in March due to games being postponed particularly in January due to the inclement weather.

ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

In Division 1 we have a top of the table clash between Grosvenor and Ballyclare at Gibson Park. In Div 2 we have another top two clash involving Limavady and Randalstown at the John Hunter Playing fields. In Div 3 we have undefeated Donaghadee and Holywood meeting in a North Down derby in Holywood.

Delighted to hear that 40% fewer games are being postponed. This has to be down to the working relationship between committees at the Ulster Branch and clubs to put in place league structures that accommodate all abilities. Club Committee representatives are the voice of their club. They have to take forward issues that impact on their clubs and teams with possible solutions. We can all complain but sometimes we need to come forward with workable alternatives. The fact we are seeing additional teams playing this season has to be a sign that the work being undertaken at the clubs in association with the Ulster Branch committees has to be recognised as the way forward for the Domestic game.

Just off phone with Paul O’Kane Director of Rugby at City of Derry and CCRO in the Strabane area. Twelve months ago it was doom and gloom in the North West. Now we are seeing the outstanding work being undertaken at Strabane, City of Derry, Limavady and Coleraine to build the rugby base in this Region. This is being driven by Ulster Rugby Development coaches Shaun Bloomfield and Ricky Huey. As Paul O’Kane put it to me. These two men go beyond their job description in promoting the game of rugby in this area. Despite players from Strabane moving to City of Derry to play AIL rugby the coaches at Strabane along with Paul are continuing to bring through players to maintain their progress in Division 3 of the Rugby Championship this season. You can see the work Graeme Eastwood along with Limavady CCRO Peter Wilson is doing within the Limavady area. The same is happening at Coleraine with Greg Jordan chairing the Rugby playing committee and Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl in rebuilding the playing side of the club. Paul O’Kane is delighted with the work former City of Derry 1st xv players Stephen Lindsay , Ian Orr and Richard McCarter are doing at the club. Ian Orr has really impressed with his skills coaching.

What pleased Paul last night (Wednesday) is that City of Derry and Limavady came together to play an under 20 match at the Craig Thompson stadium. Limavady had 13 players and City of Derry 19 players. Both sides made up 15 a side with Limavady winning the match. The winner was the 32 under 20 players who got the opportunity to play rugby. The City of Derry Director of Rugby had 28 players unavailable with 17 of them at University in Belfast. 10 of his squad are students at Magee college with a number of these players now playing for the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds.

In a meeting at Coleraine RFC Paul was impressed by the work of Shaun Bloomfield and Ricky Huey as they addressed parents of the current under 15 regional squad as they assembled for training with the parents travelling from Donegal, Londonderry and County Antrim. It was to explain the work they would be doing to develop their sons at this level.

In the North West increasing numbers of male and female players are taking up rugby. Last week Strabane RFC fielded their first under 14 team in a win over Cavan. The team was made up of 10 Holy Cross Pupils and 6/7 players from Castlederg High School. In his coaching at Holy Cross 25/30 players both male and female are turning up to play rugby. He was just out of an Irish speaking school where the rugby is played. With the Gaelic season over there is a natural cross over to the rugby. The players bring that hand/eye coordination and physicality from playing Gaelic with Rugby introducing that discipline.

Paul O’Kane is concerned like us all by the ongoing situation at Coleraine RFC with players being denied the opportunity to play rugby because the Ulster Referees Society will not appoint referees. Last nights under 20 game at Coleraine between the home side and Ballymena had to be postponed with the Referees Society not appointing a referee.

All of us have to look at the bigger picture and the damage that is being done to the Domestic game at present over this stalemate involving the referees and Coleraine RFC. This matter needs resolved. Even the Charity game at Coleraine involving the Perennials has had to be cancelled because no referee has been appointed. Coleraine RFC are being punished in a way we did not expect to impact on the playing side of the club. It is time other clubs stood up and demanded a resolution to this current stalemate.

I was encouraged to hear that Development Officer Neil Alcorn has been playing a key role in promoting and developing under 20 rugby in the Belfast area. With the large number of under 20 players turning up to training at Queens University it is important that matches are provided for these players at this age group. Ballyclare were able to send over an under 20 squad on Wednesday night with both clubs benefiting from the run out. It begs the question why is more not being done to develop under age rugby in Belfast. I am aware of a number of large schools not playing rugby. Do clubs have rugby playing committees and Directors of Rugby to coordinate and develop rugby in this age group. We all know how important it is to provide transitional rugby for School/Youth players to retain them in the Adult game. All clubs have a duty of care to provide these structures. I would go on to say that the Rural clubs are better placed than the City clubs to be more proactive in taking forward under age rugby. I know the long standing work that has been going on at Malone and more recently Instonians and Cooke RFC.

WEEKEND RESULTS/TEAMS SATURDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2018

ALL IRELAND LEAGUE

DIV 2A

Blackrock College 30 Galwegians 20

Cashel RFC 26 Dolphin 10

Navan RFC 36 Nenagh Ormond 16

UL Bohemians 10 Highfield 36

Queens University 19 Old Crescent 21

Queens team: 1. Jonny Black, 2. Sam Cardosi, 3. Brian Cunningham, 4. David Whitten (Capt), 5. Stuart Evans, 6. James Catterson, 7. Ali Burke, 8. Tyler Arnold. 9. Conor McAuley, 10. Richie McMaster, 11. Jonny Hunter, 12. Conor McKee, 13. Rory Bell, 14. Mark Keane, 15. Johnny Milliken, 16. Andrew Clinghan, 17. Andrew McGrath, 18. Josh Fullerton, 19. Curtis Pollock, 20. Michael Orr.

Points scorers: Conor McKee, Johnny Milliken, Conor McAuley 1 x try each, Richie McMaster 2 x cons

DIV 2B

Wanderers 17 Greystones 24

Sundays Well 20 Sligo 17

Dungannon 28 Skerries25

Dungannon team: 1. Glenn Sinnamon, 2. Daniel Maxwell, 3. Sean O’Hagan, 4. Stephen Todd, 5. Guilhem Lopez, 6. Mark Riddell, 7. David Leyburn, 8. Jonah Mau’u, 9. John Russell, 10. John Buckley, 11. Jordan McIIwaine, 12. Lucca Avelli, 13. Mervyn Brown, 14. Matthew Montgomery, 15. Andrew McGregor, 16. James Gamble, 17. Jamie McNeill, 18. Peter Doran, 19. Peter Doran, 20. Jack Ravey.

Points scorers: 1. Matthew Montgomery, Jonah Mau’u, Jordan McIIwaine 1 x try each, Lucca Avelli 2 x cons and 3 x pens.

Galway Corinthians 11 Belfast Harlequins 15

Belfast Harlequins team: 1. Mark McGrath, 2. Saul Herdman, 3. James Harrison, 4. Danny Annett (Capt), 5. Troy Webber, 6. Toby Mannus, 7. Matthew Borne, 8. Ben Alexander, 9. Connor Young, 10. Timmy Emerson, 11. Kyle Adams12. Ben Sloan, 13. Mark Gribben, 14. Peter Dunlop, 15. Mark Glover, 16. Paul Jackson, 17. Charlie Sargaison, 18. Daryl Marshall, 19. David Devine, 20. Jona Siri.

Points scorers: Mark Glover and Paul Jackson 1 x try each, Mark Gribben 1 x con and 1 x pen

MU Barnhall 36 Rainey OB 14

Rainey OB team: 1. Fintain Quinn, 2. Daniel O’Neill 3.Kieran Donaghy, 4. Ronan McCusker, 5. John McCusker, 6. Andrew Harbinson, 7. Paul Pritchard (Capt), 8. Timmy Barker, 9. Jason Bloomfield, 10. Scott McLean, 11. Mark Mulholland, 12. Andrew Magrath, 13. Conor Fitzimmons, 14. Oisin Quinn, 15. Michael O’Neill, 16. Michael Nevin, 17. Jack McIntosh, 18. Michael McCusker, 19. Mattie Millar, 20. Andrew Donaghy.

DIV 2C

Midleton 35 Bruff 8

Thomond 33 Seapoint 22

Ballina 23 Omagh 19

Omagh team: 1. Kyle Alexander, 2. Richard Hemphill, 3. Peter Todd, 4. Jonny Sproule, 5. James Sproule, 6. Stuart Allen, 7. Adam Longwell, 8. Martin Clyde, 9. Stewart McCain (Capt), 10. Stuart Ballantine, 11. Ryan Mitchell, 12. Luke Hanson, 13. Scott Barr, 14. Matthew Eccles, 15. Scott Elliott, 16. Phil Ewing, 17. Ethan McKeown, 18. Mervyn Edgar, 19. Neil Brown, 20. Eoin Murnaghan.

Points scorers: Luke Hanson 1 x try, Stuart Ballantine 4 x pens and 1 x con.

City of Derry 29 Tullamore 19

City of Derry team: 1. James Hamilton, 2. David Ferguson, 3. Sam Duffy, 4. Adam Bratton, 5. Gerard Doherty, 6. Tiarnan Thorton, 7. Craig Huey, 8. Stephen Corr (Capt), 9. Simon Logue, 10. Alex McDonnell, 11. James Perry, 12. Denis Posterik, 13. David Graham, 14. Paddy Blennerhassett, 15. Thomas Cole, 16. Stephen Duffy, 17. Ross Harkin, 18. Richard Baird, 19. Phil Duffy, 20. Conall Gill.

Points scorers: Simon Logue 2 x tries, David Graham and Conall Gill 1 x try each, Conall Gill 2 x cons and 1 x pen, Alex McDonnell 1 x con.

Malahide 19 Bangor 44

Bangor team: 1. Evan Wellard – McMillen, 2. Andrew Shaw, 3. James Leary, 4. Lewis Stevenson, 5. Michael Ferguson, 6. Stephen Moore, 7. James Henley, 8. Mike Weir, 9. Mark Widdowson, 10. Oscar Yandell, 11. Desi Fusco (Capt), 12. Adam Alexander, 13. Phil Broderick, 14. Nathan Graham, 15. Declan Maguire, 16. Andrew Jackson, 17. Connor McIImurray, 18. James Stewart, 19. Liam Preston, 20. David Charles.

Points scorers: James Henley and Phil Broderick 2 x tries each, Andrew Shaw, Nathan Graham and Mark Widdowson 1 x try each. Declan Maguire 3 x cons and 1 x pen.

MILLAR McCALL WYLIE JUNIOR CUP SECOND ROUND

Dromore 48 Ballyclare 29

Dromore team: 1. Mark Hylands, 2. Stuart Sloan, 3. Jonny Simpson, 4. Stuart Russell, 5. Ross Bingham, 6. Ben Heath, 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Jonny Maguire (Capt), 9. Lee Steenson, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Brian McClearn, 12. Aaron Stewart, 13. Andrew Rutledge, 14. Marcus Heath, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Justin Savage, 17. Blair McDonald.

Points scorers: Marcus Heath and Ben Heath 2 x tries each, Andrew Rutledge and David Lyttle 1 x try each, Lee Steenson 6 x Cons and 2 x pens.

Ballyclare team: 1. Rory Henderson, 2. Matthew Coulter, 3. Jack Black, 4. Ryan Tweed, 5. Grant Bartley ( Capt), 6. Aaron Playfair, 7. Matthew Robson, 8. Paul Robinson, 9. Andy Eastop, 10. Robert Smith, 11. Michael Kirk, 12. Will Stewart, 13. Joel McBride, 14. Callum Wilson, 15. Gary Clotworthy, 16. Al Boyd, 17. Robbie Reid.

Points scorers: Joel McBride 3 x tries, Aaron Playfair and Callum Wilson 1 x try each, Robert Smith 2 x cons.

Ballymoney 25 Portadown 35

Ballymoney team: 1. Peter Irvine, 2. Kenny McAneaney, 3. Matthew Blair, 4. Danny Platt, 5. Russell Blair, 6. Garvin Bellingham, 7. David McKeeman, 8. Daniel Ramage, 9. Matthew Steele, 10. John Hyndman, 11. Nigel Carson, 12. Martin Irwin, 13. Chris Watson, 14. Michael Armstrong, 15. Thomas Hunter, 16. Adam Smith, 17. Joel Heggarty.

Points scorers: Martin Irwin 2 x tries, Danny Platt 1 x try, John Hyndman 2 x cons and 2 x pens.

Portadown team: 1. Mark Henderson, 2. Robert Reid, 3. Matthew Wilson, 4. Aaron Abraham, 5. Willy Graham, 6. James Wright, 7. Lloyd Gravatt, 8. Gary Hall (Capt), 9. Brian Forrestal, 10. Brett Flack, 11. Nick Holt, 12. Jordan Taylor, 13. Mark Adamson, 14. Conor Megarity, 15. Luke Ashton, 16. Stuart Lamb, 17. Jonathan Reid.

Points scorers: Lloyd Gravatt, Luke Ashton, Mark Adamson, Robert Reid, Stuart Lamb 1 x try each, Mark Adamson 5 x cons.

Larne 31 Carrickfergus 22

Larne team: 1. Andy Hyndman, 2. Craig Gibson, 3. Luke Burford, 4. Jonny McKinty, 5. Jonny Cole (Capt), 6. Gareth Jamison, 7. Ryan McAllister, 8. Eddie Hunter, 9. Ryan Garrett, 10. Barry J McFaul, 11. Liam Slaughter, 12. Jonny Ogilby, 13. Aaron McBride, 14. Matty Agnew, 15. Philip Andrews, 16. Jordan Burns, L McKee.

Points scorers : Jonny Ogilby 2 x tries, Aaron McBride and Jordan Burns 1 x try each, Philip Andrews 1 x con and 3 x pens.

Carrickfergus team: 1. Stuart Cheshire, 2. Alan Whitley, 3. James Graham, 4. Chris Rodgers, 5. Chris Taylor, 6. Ryan Gibson, 7. Ross Crymble, 8. Ryan McGonigle (Capt), 9. Conor Cambridge, 10. David Carse, 11. Brian Alexander, 12. Adam White, 13. Jack Burton, 14. David Moore, 15. Patrick McNeil, 16. Conor Dodds, 17. Nathan Greenwood.

Points scorers: Ross Crymble 2 x tries, David carse and Ryan McGonigle 1 x try each, Adam White 1 x con.

Instonians 10 Malone seconds 45

Instonians team: 1. Conor Gallagher, 2. Cameron Barr, 3. Matthew Nelson, 4. Alan Whitten, 5. Daryl Smith, 6. Tom Matthews, 7. Robert McGibbon, 8. John Andress, 9. Paul Marshall, 10. Richard McCarthy, 11. Colm Cregan, 12. David Scott (Capt), 13. Patrick Bell, 14. Ross O’Donnell, 15. Joe Fryers, 16. Josh Cregan, 17. Rob Brown.

Points scorers: John Andress 2 x tries.

Malone seconds: 1. Lee Barlow, 2. Connor Kelly, 3. Seif El Deen, 4. Tom Dullage, 5. Jonny Davis, 6. Matt Hadden, 7. Max porter. 8. Daryl Maxwell, 9. Callum Jeffrey, 10. Shane Kelly, 11. David Irvine, 12. Ricky McCullagh, 13. Neil Alcorn, 14. Jack McMurtry, 15. Andy McConnell, 16. Gary Crawford, 17. Chris Griffiths.

Points scorers: Matthew Hadden, Shane Kelly and Daryl Maxwell 2 x tries each, Gary Crawford 1 x try, Shane Kelly 5 x cons.

Limavady 32 Ards 12

Limavady team: 1. Clive Scott, 2. Adam Millar, 3. John McCollum, 4. John Purcell, 5. Perry Semple, 6. Stuart Simpson, 7. Jonny Lees, 8. Daniel Irvine, 9. Peter Wilson, 10. Luke Faulkner, 11. Stuart Roddy, 12. Jody McMurray, 13. Michael Barr, 14. Mark woods, 15. Robert Lamberton, 16. Adam Currie, 17. Ben Riley.

Points scorers: Luke Faulkner, Mark Woods, Robert Lamberton, Jody McMurray and John McCollum 1 x try each. Luke Faulkner 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

Ards team: 1. Tom Arthur Donnan, 2. Paul Hamilton, 3. Matty Kane, 4. Andrew Foster (Capt), 5. Ross Torney, 6. Sam McVeigh, 7. Paddy Bond, 8. Danny patton, 9. Alex Hendrickse, 10. Paul Cox, 11. Adam Faloon, 12. Graeme Taylor, 13. Trevor Devlin, 14. Adam Coulter, 15. Mark Banford, 16. David Chivers, 17. Scott Young.

Points scorers; Adam Faloon and Adam Coulter 1 x try each, Paul Cox 1 x con.

Lisburn 28 Clogher Valley 27

Lisburn team: 1. Jamie Dickson (Capt), 2. Matthew Nelson, 3. Phil Jefferson, 4. David Curry, 5. Andrew Barron, 6. Kitione Dominiqbau, 7. Adam Jameson, 8. Noel Hooke, 9. Andrew Neely, 10. Richard McGregor, 11. Conor Gascoigne, 12. Dylan Postlethwaite, 13. Jake Bebbington, 14. Craig Walsh, 15. Chris Nimmons, 16. James Wellings, 17. Chris Cummings.

Points scorers: Adam Jameson 2 x tries, Craig Walsh and Kitione Dominiqbau 1 x try each, Richard McGregor 1 x con and 2 x pens.

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

Points scorers: Michael Treanor, Neil Trotter, Joshua Coulter and Aaron Dunwoody 1 x try each, Reece Smyton 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

Randalstown 28 Grosvenor 31

Randalstown team: 1. Matty McBrien, 2. Scott Stevenson, 3. Simon Adams, 4. Dean McCroary, 5. David Millar, 6. Tony O’Hagan, 7. Peter Knowles, 8. David Smith (Capt), 9. Tommy Holland, 10. Martin Connolly, 11. Coby Mason, 12. Ryan O’Dea, 13. Matty McWhinney, 14. Jordan Foster, 15. Dan McGlade, 16. Scott McClenaghan, 17. Michael Smith.

Points scorers: Ryan O’Dea, David Millar and Dean McCroary 1 x try each, Martin Connolly 1 x con and 3 x pens, Coby Mason 1 x con.

Grosvenor team: 1. Mark Rainey, 2. Stuart Smyth, 3. Willie Rea, 4. Peter Dawson, 5. Connor McKee, 6. Jeff Mealiff, 7. Ben Davies, 8. Sam Purdon (Capt), 9. Allen McCluggage, 10. Adam Skelton, 11. David Egner, 12. Joss McConkey, 13. Peter Davison, 14. Shane Johnston, 15. Mark Johnston, 16. Mark Cartmill, 17. Jamie McMullan.

Points scorers: Mark Johnston and Peter Davison 1 x try each, Allen McCluggage 2 x tries, 1 x con and 1 x pen, Adam Skelton 3 x cons.

Cooke 16 Ballynahinch seconds 32

Cooke team: 1. James Milligan, 2. Curtis Montgomery, 3. Russell Hunter, 4. Matthew Crothers, 5. Jonathan Walsh, 6. Jsoh Harper, 7. Callum Robinson, 8. Jason Lyons, 9. Ryan Flavelle, 10. Rob Mitchell, 11. Andrew Pollock, 12. Kyle Mitchell (Capt), 13. Jonathan Backus, 14. Andrew Nelson, 15. Alan Gourley, 16. Ross Dunning, 17. Ian Anderson.

Points scorers: Jonathan Backus 1 x try, Rob Mitchell 1 x con and 3 x pens.

Ballynahinch seconds: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Harry McCormick, 4. Brian Howard, 5. Tom Martin, 6. Graeme McKItterick, 7. Stuart Elwood, 8. Gareth Gill, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Matthew Norton (Capt), 11. Ronan Patterson, 12. Eamon McAnulty, 13. David Harris, 14. Aaron Ferris, 15. James McBriar, 16. Robert Gilmore, 17.Conor Phillips.

Points scorers: James McBriar, Lewis Finlay and Conor Phillips 1 x try each, Matthew Norton 1 x con and 5 x pens.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1

Enniskillen 22 Coleraine 20

Enniskillen team: 1. Gavin Warrington, 2. Ryan Cathcart (Capt), 3.Gareth Beatty, 4. David Buchanan, 5. Gavin parke, 6. Jamie Kelly, 7. James Carleton, 8. Jack Rutledge, 9. Matthew Dane, 10. Nick Finlay, 11. Jarlath Maguire, 12. Jonny Magwood, 13. Angus Keys, 14. Conor Hoy, 15. Adam Lendrum, 16. Alan Ferguson, 17. Gary Thorton.

Points scorers: Penalty try, Gavin Warrington and Jarleth Maguire 1 x try each. Nick Finlay 2 x cons and 1 x pen.

Coleraine: 1. Aidy Nevin, 2. David Greatorex, 3. Chris Breadon, 4. DD McAllister, 5. Brian Hughes, 6. Josh Christie (Capt), 7. Bernard Mullan, 8. Steven Dickey, 9. Cameron Fulton, 10. Jonny Crowe, 11. Brandon Bailey, 12. Gavin Piennar, 13. Bradley Dempster, 14. Niall Irwin, 15. Stevie Callaghan, 16. Marek Julz, S McLean.

Points scorers: Brian Hughes and Bradley Dempster 1 x try each, Cameron Fulton 2 x cons and 2 x pens.

ALL IRELAND LEAGUE

DIV 1A

Clontarf v Lansdowne. Played Friday 5.10.18. KO 8PM

Cork Constitution v Shannon

Garryowen v Dublin Uni

UCD v UCC

Young Munster v Terenure College

DIV 1B

Ballymena v Malone

Buccaneers v Naas

City of Armagh v Old Wesley

Old Belvedere v Banbridge

St Mary’s College v Ballynahinch

Ballymena v Malone

Head coach Andy Graham is well aware of the challenges that face his team in Div 1B this season. In the forwards Ballymena will be strong with Nacho Clandero Crespo, Jonny Spence, James Taggart, Josh Bill, Houston Bonnar and Chris Cundell contesting the front row. David Whann will return this week and along with Conor Smyth, Mark Foster and JJ McKee are the second row options. The back row has been consistent in recent weeks with Matthew Dick, Willie McKay and Stephen Mulholland starting at number 8. Former UUC back row player Jack Bolger will also come into consideration. Ballymena have two talented and experienced half backs in Glenn Baillie and Timothy Small to fill the 9 and 10 jersey. Injuries rule out James Beattie and Rodger McBurney with Darrell Montgomery expected to return. Winger Jonny Rossborough is unavailable this week. Former under 18 out half Eoin Ritson played 40 mins in the Ulster Premiership match at Malone two weeks ago. Other backs to come into consideration include Sam Millar, Matthew Norris, Mark Thompson, Jonny McMullan, James Wheeler, Jack Fleming and Scott Willoughby for a place in the match day 20. Prop Griffin Phillipson is away to Loughborough Uni to study this season.

These two teams have already met this season with Ballymena winning the First Trust Senior Cup tie at Eaton Park and Malone winning the Premiership game at Gibson Park.

Andy Graham is looking forward to the opening AIL game on Saturday. He is hoping his team play better than they did at Gibson Park. He is also looking his team to improve their discipline and stop giving away penalties. He wants the players to tighten up their game and play a game to impose themselves on Malone and get a win. He is expecting a very tough game. He is looking his team to match the physicality of a well conditioned Malone side particularly at the breakdown as they seek out a win . You wont lose the league on the first day but you don’t want to drop out of touch. The squad need to get an early feel to see where they are in this league. It is a long season with many twists and turns. Key for Ballymena this season is to avoid injuries.

From Malone Head coach Paddy Armstrong: Team have worked hard and are aware of the challenge ahead as they start life in Div 1B and know Ballymena will be tough opposition. He is still waiting to finalise his team.

City of Armagh v Old Wesley

Both the coaches and the players of the 1st and 2nd xv were pleased to have the weekend off with everybody feeling refreshed when they returned to training on Tuesday night. Only two players remain on the injured list. They include Jonny Pollock and Harry Doyle who are expected to be available in the next 2/3 weeks. The good news is that full back Timmy McNeice and out half Harry Boyd are available again for selection this week. A few players are carrying some bumps and bruises but are expected to come through on Thursday night. Selection will be difficult before teams are confirmed with the 3rds and 4ths having no games this week.

Assistant coach Chris Parker believes the playing squad are in a good place. Div 1B will be a steep learning curve for the players this season. They will have to learn quickly and adapt. It is all about this City of Armagh team playing the way the coaches want them to play. The squad have the ability and strength in depth to make a good start. In their first block of five games they have three Ulster derbies with Ballynahinch, Malone and Ballymena with that added spice. The focus this week is all about the opening game against Old Wesley at the Palace Grounds in a league that will be competitive this season. In the opening five games City of Armagh will learn a lot about the league, the opposition and themselves.

Banbridge v Old Belvedere

For Head coach Simon McKinstry he is looking forward to the teams first AIL game away to Old Belvedere in Dublin this week. There is always a buzz about the club with the AIL kicking off. Selection has been difficult with the players putting their hands up in the opening Ulster club fixtures. Captain Michael Cromie picked up an hand fracture playing for the Ulster A side against Scarlets at Shawsbridge that will rule him out for several months. One piece of good news is that Hooker Peter Cromie who has been playing for the Ulster A has been released for this match. Another player hoping to be involved is Ulster Academy prospect David McCann from RBAI. Former RBAI scrum half Niall Armstrong will make his AIL debut after performing well and holding on to the scrum half jersey during the early club fixtures. Unavailability due to stag weekends will impact on Banbridge this week with both Ian and John Porter ruled out along with prop Stuart Cromie. The result is that second xv will have five players unavailable. Injuries rule out both Robin Sinton and Timothy Savage for the season with Timothy Savage helping out the management of the second xv. Back row forward Ryan Hughes is another noticeable absentee as he is completing his PGCE in England. Opportunities are grasped by other players in this situation with Ross Haughey who has impressed in recent weeks joining Jonny Weir and Peter Cromie in the starting front row with Paul Ross and Andrew Jackson backing up on the bench. Depending on the release of David McCann it will be between Matthew Laird/David McCann and Mike Bentley to start in the second row and back row. Again final decisions to made on Thursday night. Former Captain Adam Ervine comes in to replace John Porter on the wing.

Banbridge team: 1. Jonny Weir, 2. Peter Cromie, 3. Ross Haughey, 4. Chris Allen, 5 and 6 Matthew Laird/ David McCann/Mike Bentley. 7. Ethan Harbinson, 8. Stephen Irvine, 9. Niall Armstrong, 10. Josh Cromie, 11. Adam Ervine, 12. Jonny Little, 13. Andy Morrison, 14. Conor Field, 15. Adam Doherty, 16. Paul Ross, 17. Andrew Jackson, 18. Matthew Laird/David McCann/ Mike Bentley, 19. Aaron Kennedy, 20. Ben Carson.

Coach Simon McKinstry is expecting another close game with Old Belvedere on Saturday. Last season Banbridge won at home by a point and lost by 3/4 points in Dublin. He is hoping the team will have learnt from the experiences of these two games. The opening game will test the club players to see where they are at this season. He is expecting a competitive match. One stat the coach pointed out to me is that both centres Jonny Little and Andrew Morrison have played over 100 matches each for the club in the AIL.

Ballynahinch v St Mary’s College

From Harry McAleese – Ballynahinch will not be finalising selection until Thursday night. Both Rhys O’Donnell (Illness) and Hilton Gibbons (Injury) are expected to be available this week for selection.

DIV 2A

Old Crescent v Cashel RFC. Played Friday 5.10. 18. KO 8PM

Dolphin v Navan RFC

Galwegians v UL Bohemians

Highfield v Queens University

Nenagh Ormond v Blackrock College

Queens University v Highfield

Head coach Derek Suffern handed debuts to five players in the AIL last week against Old Crescent. They included former Wallace High School players Jonny Hunter and Sam Cardosi, former Portadown out half Michael Orr, former Ulster under age back row player and BHSFP player Tyler Arnold and former Dalriada back row player Curtis Pollock. After playing against Ballynahinch – both Ulster under 19 players Ben Power and Robbie Johnston were required by Ulster A for the Celtic Cup match against the Newport Gwent Dragons at Eaton park last Saturday. The coach in reviewing the Old Crescent game was disappointed that the team conceded soft tries to the visitors at the Dub. From a fumbled scrum on their own line Queens give away a try. As the coach pointed out it was not like the players. Inconsistency in selection contributed to mistakes. New combinations/ enforced changes due to injuries/unavailability or whether it was nerves/ dropping balls in the first AIL game the coaches have parked this game with the focus totally on the Highfield game in Cork this week. Derek Suffern is well aware it will take a few weeks for the team to gel. He is happy with the work being put in by the team and cant fault their effort. The squad just need to be more consistent with the basics moving forward.

With the unavailability of Richie McMaster – Michael Orr will start at out half. Centre Rory Bell picked up an injury and is ruled out this week. Conor McAuley will start at scum half with Mark Keane partnering Conor McKee in the centre. Full back Johnny Milliken is another injury doubt for this week. Conor Shiels came through a match for the seconds and will come into contention. Jonny Hunter will continue on the wing. In the forwards the coach will consider rotating players with Andrew McGrath and Andrew Clingan coming into the front row and Curtis Pollock starting in the back row with Jonny Black, Stuart Evans and Tyler Arnold taking their place on the bench. Andrew Clingan got 40 mins in the second half against Old Crescent. Rest and rotation is required after a busy start to the season. The positive for the coaches is that the players seamlessly fit in and out to the team.

Prop Andrew Weir is another week away from being available. His scrummaging was missed against Old Crescent. Others on the injured list are 1/2 weeks away from being available for selection including Jack Sleator, David Swann and Gary Dillon. Alexander Clarke will undergo a fitness test on Thursday night to prove his availability for this week.

70+ players were at training last Thursday night with the Head coach delighted with the coaching structures put in place by the club to look after these players. Both the seconds and thirds have made a strong start to their season with an under 20 squad competing against Ballyclare on Wednesday night.

The Head coach is looking forward to the game with Highfield on Saturday. The Cork side have a big pack and a strong lineout. This season they are playing a more attractive open style of rugby. His Queens team will need to be on their game to win this weekend. The team are creating opportunities but need to finish them off. Final selection will be confirmed on Thursday night.

DIV 2B

Skerries v MU Barnhall. Played Friday 5.10.18. KO 8PM

Belfast Harlequins v Sunday’s Well

Greystones v Galway Corinthians

Rainey OB v Wanderers

Sligo v Dungannon

Belfast Harlequins v Sunday’s Well

From 1st xv Manager Neale Wilson selection will be finalised on Thursday night.

Rainey OB v Wanderers

It was not the start Rainey were looking to their AIL campaign losing 36 – 14 to MU Barnhall at Parsonstown. It has to be remembered that Barnhall finished one point behind Rainey in third place in Div 2 B last season. In the review on Tuesday night it was clear to Head coach John Andrews that three of the tries scored by Barnhall in the first half were as a result of the Rainey team turning over good ball on the opposition line and allowing their dangerous backs to run the length of the pitch to score tries. As John Andrews described it – everything Barnhall done they were clinical. His team were not accurate with the ball and will need two weeks to sort this out. Despite going 29 – 0 down at halftime Rainey tightened their game up in the second half outscoring the home side by 14 – 7. Sadly the damage had been done in the first half. This weekend the coaches are looking a reaction from the playing squad. They will welcome back South African hooker George Fritz who will be in his 4th season playing at the club. He is expected to start at hooker with Daniel O’Neill dropping down to the bench. He is also the sort of person who is very passionate about his rugby and will rally the players this week. Rainey lost both of their starting props for the Barnhall game – Stephen Rutledge and Kieran Donaghy in training last Thursday night. Rutledge picked up an AC joint injury with the result he will miss the first block of AIL games. Kieran Donaghy has a calf injury with the coach hoping he will be available in two weeks time. This meant former Youth player Fintain Quinn moving up from the bench to start at tight head with Jack McIntosh coming in at loose head with Callum Smyth covering from the bench. Both McIntosh and Smyth are former Ulster under age players with McIntosh recently returning from playing rugby in New Zealand during the summer. Coach John Andrews rates the 21 year old Quinn who will have a long future with the 1st xv. In fact he played 75 mins at Barnhall before being replaced. As the coach put it he never misses training and works hard at his game.

With the returning Damien McMurray coming onto the wing Mark Mulholland drops down from the 1st xv team. Andrew Magrath played the second half at ten and is expected to continue in this position against Wanderers. Scott McLean will move to the wing with Michael O’Neill continuing at full back. Conor Fitzsimmons will link up with Oisin Quinn in a new centre pairing. Second row Ronan McCusker will be unavailable for the next four weeks with Timmy Barker partnering brother John in the second row. Ulster under 19 back row forward Charlie Clarke is expected to come in alongside Captain Paul Pritchard and number 8 Michael McCusker in the back row. Replacement hooker Michael Nevin will drop out of the match day twenty.

Rainey team: 1. Jack McIntosh, 2. George Fritz, 3. Fintan Quinn, 4.John McCusker, 5. Timmy Barker, 6. Charlie Clarke, 7. Paul Pritchard (Capt), 8. Michael McCusker, 9. Jason Bloomfield, 10. Andy Magrath, 11. Scott McLean, 12. Conor Fitzsimons, 13. Oisin Quinn, 14. Damien McMurray, 15. Michael O’Neill, 16. Callum Smyth, 17. Daniel O’Neill, 18. Andrew Harbinson, 19. Mattie Millar, 20. Andrew Donaghy.

John Andrews wants his team to turn Hatrick Park into the fortress it was last season. He expects Wanderers this week and Greystones away next Saturday along with Old Crescent and his Rainey team to be amongst the top 4/5 teams challenging for a top four finish this season. It is important for his Rainey side to perform in these upcoming matches. The team did not come off the pitch against MU Barnhall disappointed. The players knew they had let themselves down. The coach is confident the side will respond. He is looking forward to the game on Saturday.

Dungannon v Sligo

It was a frantic final quarter for home coach Andrew Hughes at Stevenson Park against Skerries. He had watched his team build up a 28 – 6 lead only to concede three late tries to hang on to win 28 – 25. He felt his team had mentally switched off. The plus point was that the Dungannon pack proved too strong for their opponents throughout the game. What was pleasing for the coach was that only centre Mervyn Brown had to leave the pitch in the second half with a bang to the ribs to be replaced by back row forward Jonah Mau’u. He has been pleased with the centre combination of Mervyn Brown and Lucca Avelli that has proved very effective. Mervyn Brown trained on Tuesday night and is expected to be available for the Sligo game. Full back Andrew McGregor is unavailable this week with backs Conor McGeough and Andrew McPhillips remaining on the injured list. Andrew McPhillips is hoping to be available next week. Scrum half John Russell will move to full back with Jack Ravey coming in at scrum half and Conor Milnes covering from the bench. Winger Jordan McIIwaine impressed again scoring another fine try against Skerries. Other good news is that former Captain James McMahon returned to training this week and is expected to be available before Xmas. Former Friends prop Ross Stewart came through training after injury and will come into consideration for this week. It will be between him and James Gamble for a place on the bench. Hooker Malcolm Allister remains on injured list with second row Ross McCaughey returning to play this week for the seconds as the club fields four teams. Malcolm Allister has started light training and is targeting a return before Xmas.

For Andy Hughes this weeks game away to Sligo is a bit of the unknown for his players. They will certainly know what to expect down there. It is all about keeping the ball and putting it up to Sligo. He believes his team are a match for any side in this league. His squad are along way off from where they were last season. It is all about the team turning the chances they are creating into tries. It is also about the ability to grind out results. Being allowed to use 12 roll on subs during a game allows the team to play with an intensity throughout the 80 mins.

DIV 2C

Bangor v Thomond

Bruff v City of Derry

Omagh v Malahide

Seapoint v Midleton

Tullamore v Ballina

Bangor v Thomond

Ricky Armstrong Bangor: It was a great game at Malahide. The team started well and finished even better. It was as he described as good a performance he had seen Bangor play since they returned to being a Senior Club. It wasn’t that Malahide played poorly, they were good. But the Bangor players stuck to the game plan that they have been working on since the beginning of pre season with the young players making their AIL debuts standing out.

Back row forwards James Henley and Mike Weir were absolutely immense and gave the proper go forward ball for the young back line to capitalise on.

New Head coach Michael Ferguson was quick to point out to the players after the game that it was only one game in a long season. It was important for the players to back it up against Thomond at home this weekend. Training on Tuesday night was intense with players on the periphery trying to edge their way into the squad for this week.

The squad wont change much this weekend with the exception of Oscar Yandell being unavailable. There will be a reshuffle in the backline with Liam Preston either coming in at 9 or 10. Former Captain Jamie Clegg or Craig Burton will come into the squad to replace him.

The match day 20 will be chosen from Connor McIImurray, James Leary, Andrew Shaw, Evan Wellard – McMillan, Andrew Jackson, Lewis Stevenson, Michael Ferguson, Stephen Moore, James Stewart, Mike Weir, Jamie Clegg, Craig Burton, James Henley, Mark Widdowson, Declan Maguire, Liam Preston, Phil Broderick, Desi Fusco, Adam Alexander, David Charles and Nathan Graham.

Dave Caughey (Hip), Adam McCusker (Pulled muscle), Orran McIImurray (Concussion) will come back into contention next week. Captain David Bradford returned to full training this week and isn’t far off from playing again along with scrum half Ali Lockhart.

Mark Widdowson deserves a special mention too after playing 50 mins at scrum half on Saturday. He has played right across the backline this season and although he is naturally an attacking centre or wing, he slots in anywhere he is asked without hesitation. It is this sort of attitude that is flowing through the squad now. There is a real feeling of rolling the sleeves up and working hard for each other this season so far. Everyone at the club is excited just to be part of it in whatever role is needed.

Huge game against Thomond this week. It is all about the team concentrating on their discipline and not giving away penalties. The defence was strong against Malahide that allowed the team to play the patterns they are trying to play in the right areas.

City of Derry v Bruff

Director of Rugby Paul O’Kane is looking forward to the game at Bruff this weekend after the team won their opening game at home to Tullamore last Saturday. The key to their win was a strong defensive display during a 15/20 minute period in the first half. Tullamore were bigger/physical and hard running. He was impressed by Captain and number 8 Stephen Corr and his two back row colleagues Craig Huey and recently converted back rower Tiarnan Thorton. Crucial for City of Derry this season will be the ability to win their home games. If the players are not fully committed for the game at Bruff they wont get a result. The key for this Derry squad is their work ethic. Under Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Gallanagh the players have improved their conditioning this season under his supervision on a Monday night. It is the conditioning work Joe does that got them through the game last Saturday with Tullamore tiring in the final quarter. What was pleasing for the coaches was the wins the seconds had over CIYMS and the thirds at Ballyshannon. With three sides out this week there are 10 players who have not got a game with the club looking at fielding a 4th side. Letterkenny and Ulster under 19 second row Conor McMenamin has started training at the club and will be available for selection when the second block of AIL games commence. Prop Ben Pollin has commitments with the GB wrestling team that will have him available for 75% of the 1st xv games. Back row Callum Robinson suffered a knee in the temple against Ballynahinch and has been suffering from nausea/headaches/ Grogginess and sleep issues. (such are dangers of concussion). The club are closely monitoring his condition. Jack Beattie picked up a nasty knee injury at training with the player waiting on further diagnosis. Out half Alex McDonnell was forced to leave the pitch after picking up a nasty gash to the knee against Tullamore that will rule him out this weekend. His replacement Conall Gill came on and played a key part in his team winning the game. Richard Baird returned to the bench last week and picked up a knee injury. He is ruled out this week but is expected to be available for the Seapoint match.

The key at Bruff is ball retention and building the phases without giving the ball away against their big forwards.

For the match this week Colin Campbell will replace winger James Perry who is unavailable with Conall Gill continuing at out half. Simon Logue despite being strapped up returned from injury to add quality to the backline at scrum half- scoring two opportunist tries. He is available to play this week.

Paddy Blennerhassett has a slight injury but is expected to come through a fitness test tonight. Changes on the bench will see Ross Harkin, Cathal Cregan, Steven Duffy providing forward cover with Phil Duffy and under 20s captain Callum O’Hagan providing cover in the backs.

Omagh v Malahide

Despite losing out at Ballina last week the Omagh Head coach Phil Marshall was delighted to see his team pick up a precious league point at Hefferan Park. It was a very physical game with the side picking up five injuries. Two props, one second row, one back row and one winger will undergo fitness tests on Thursday night for the game at home to Malahide this week. Centre Luke Hanson is unavailable with Stephen MacLaine (Dislocated finger) and Ali Beckett (Fractured cheekbone) remaining on the injured list.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1

CIYMS v Coleraine

Enniskillen v Dromore

Grosvenor v Ballyclare

Portadown v Carrickfergus

CIYMS v Coleraine

Head coach Gareth Fry is looking forward to his side returning to Belmont to play their first home fixture this season. In their first four away league games CIYMS lost three and drew their game at Carrickfergus 15 – 15. The defeats were at Grosvenor, Ballyclare and Instonians. The coach has had to deal with several senior players retiring from playing including injuries to key players Mark McConkey and Nathan Burns. Mark McConkey will be out until Xmas with Nathan Burns still a couple of weeks away from being available. Selection has yet to be finalised with a few other players carrying knocks. It was nice for the players to have a free Saturday with a number of players having the opportunity to recover from sore bodies. The coach was disappointed with the defeat at Instonians. He felt his team were in the game until the final quarter. During this period they concede 14 points in 10 minutes which ultimately was the difference. Very similar to the defeats to Ballyclare and Grosvenor.

Training has been going very well with consistent numbers present. Games involving CIYMS and Coleraine have always been very tight over the last two seasons with the coach expecting another tight game this week. He is just delighted to have a home game.

For Coleraine Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl the narrow 22 – 20 defeat at Enniskillen last Saturday with the team picking up a number of serious injuries. Second row and forwards coach Brian Hughes dislocated his shoulder and will be ruled out for the rest of the season. Back up hooker Stuart snapped his Achilles with hooker David Greatorex injuring his back that will rule him out for 4 – 6 weeks.

One player who continues to impress is centre Bradley Dempster who has returned from University. He scored a try on Saturday as well as setting up a try for Brian Hughes to back up his fine individual try against Cooke in Junior Cup.

Coleraine team for CIYMS on Saturday: 1. Cillian Butler, 2. Andy McKee, 3. Chris Breadon, 4. Josh Christie, 5. Keith McKnight, 6. Bernard Mullan (Capt), 7. Brandon Baillie, 8. Steven Dickey, 9. Matthew Leighton, 10. Jonny Crowe, 11. Brian Cochrane, 12. Martin Senk, 13. Bradley Dempster, 14. Stevie Callaghan, 15. Gavin Piennar, 16. Maek Juzl, 17. Simon McLean.

Enniskillen v Dromore

Head coach Stevie Welsh will welcome the return of his two centres Mark O’Shea and James Ferguson against Dromore this week. Full back Donagh O’Callaghan is unavailable with Adam Lendrum continuing at full back. In the pack Gary Thorton will replace Gavin Parke. Dromore are a well drilled side playing good rugby. The coaches and players are looking forward to welcoming them to Mullaghmeen. Full back Ashley Finlay has returned to traing but is easing himself back in.

Dromore Head coach Jonny Cullen will be without second row Stewart Russell who is ruled out with a head injury. Captain Adam McGregor returns to the pack this week. In the backs Adam Gilmore replaces Marcus Heath on the wing who returns to University. The coaches have been pleased with the performances of second row Ross Bingham who has stepped up his work rate this year playing alongside Jonny ‘Mo’ Simpson. Peter Elliott who played at City of Armagh is another player who has joined Dromore this season. He has really shown what work rate can be done around the park by the players.

The coach is delighted his team have secured another home draw in the Junior Cup when Portadown will be the visitors to Barban Hill on the 20th October. It is always nice to get a home draw. Portadown will be tough on the day. Every team can just get it right on Cup day and Portadown are a very good team when they get it right. He is expecting another tight contest for his players.

The focus this week is on the game at Enniskillen without looking too far ahead.

Grosvenor v Ballyclare

For this top of the table clash at Gibson Park Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford will be missing seven players who played in the league win at Portadown. His players came through a very testing Junior Cup game at Randalstown last Sat to hang on and win 31 – 28. Both David Marshall and Matthew Fitzimmons who missed that game will return from injury this week. Players including Simon Patterson, Dean Swift and Neil Adams who have been involved with the 1st xv this season may come into contention for selection at the weekend. Both Jos McConkey in the centre and Ben Davies in the back row are both school leavers from Grosvenor last year and have adapted well to senior rugby. Captain Andrew Kelly subject to a fitness test will return this week or next week.

The coach is expecting a tough game this week against Ballyclare who are an excellent side and will be one of the favourites for the league. He is frustrated to be without so many key players against Ballyclare but has every confidence in his players being competitive.

Ballyclare Head coach Mike McKeever will take his strongest team to play Grosvenor this week despite several difficult decisions that have to be made. The objective is to have a settled team for the next two games before they play in the All Ireland Junior Cup on the 27th October. It is getting the combinations right on the 1st and 2nd xv teams. Rotation in the opening weeks has paid off already to allow for injury and unavailability.

The coach will welcome back prop Dean Jones to the front row with Robert Boyd returning to the second row and Gary Weatherup to the back row. Robbie Reid who made an impact off the bench at Dromore comes into the backline. There will be an element of rotation with Stuart Cusick returning to the wing. Final decisions on the backline will be made on Thursday night.

Ballyclare under 20s played at Queens on Wednesday night with the coach delighted to see so many young players back playing that hadn’t played since school . Hopefully these players will start feeding into the club sides with the 1sts, 2nds, 4ths and 5ths all playing this weekend.

Portadown v Carrickfergus

Head coach Richard Hedley will finalise his team on Thursday night. Both Matthew Davison and Neil Gordon picked up injuries in the Junior Cup win over Ballymoney last Saturday. Scrum half Brian Forrestal is also a doubt. The coach is hoping to welcome back Jonny Holden, Lee Bicker and maybe Karim Ahizoun for the match with Carrick at Chambers Park. He is also hoping prop Matt Wilson will be available. Tom Caesar, Conor Webster, Matthew Neill and Jack Orr missed the game at the weekend due to injury. The coach is hoping to reverse their three opening league defeats with their first league win of the season.

Talking to Andy Kinkaid at Carrickfergus. Jonny Sheriff has returned to training this week after picking up a concussion injury in September. Prop Paul Greenaway remains unavailable. Injuries are still impacting with selection to be finalised on Thursday night. Fionn McCormick, Stuart Currie and Michael Black who missed the Junior Cup defeat at Larne return to the squad this week.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 1

Ballynahinch seconds v Instonians

Cooke v City of Armagh seconds

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2

Ards v Clogher Valley

Ballymoney v Lisburn

Limavady v Randalstown

Ards v Clogher Valley

Head coach John West is anticipating few changes to his team this week after a much improved performance away to Limavady in the Junior Cup. David Armstrong will come into the backs with the coach considering a few changes in the forwards.

From David Sharkey at Clogher Valley – Paul Armstrong returns to the 1st xv after coming through a game for the second xv last weekend. The backs from 9 – 15 include Neil Trotter, Dylan Eakin, Josh Coulter, Reece Smyton, Paul Armstrong, Fleming Agnew and Ewan Haire. Forward selection and bench replacements to be finalised at training on Thursday night. Another injured player David Speers returned to training this week.

Ballymoney v Lisburn

From Jonny Hanna – the Ballymoney team will be similar to the team that lost at home to Portadown in the Junior Cup. He felt for the majority of the game against Portadown – Ballymoney were the better team . His players did not get the rub of the green after conceding a penalty and having a player yellow carded with 15 minutes left. That was when Ballymoney lost the lead in the game for the first time. Credit to Portadown they took their points really well. The team had chances to clear the danger but made errors or wrong decisions which cost them dearly in the end.

Lisburn beat Ballymoney at Kilraughts Road in the last game of last season with his Ballymoney players aware they need to be at their best to win. If the players execute what they have been doing at training it will be a competitive game.

Lisburn Director of Rugby Mike Knowles: The focus for Lisburn is to pick up league points and build momentum after losing their opening two league games against Randalstown and Academy. The pack is expected to be the same that played against Cloger Valley. Joe Taginbacku will return this week with Peter Dillon replacing Richard McGregor at out half. Both Richard McGregor and Adam Jameson have added to the Lisburn squad in the off season with former Ballynahinch forward Matthew Nelson adding his leadership qualities on the pitch alongside Captain Jamie Dickson who has been excellent. Other players expected to become available in October include Epi Ratu and Craig Hossack. David Curry has made a big impact in the forwards after returning from injury and along with back row forward Noel Hooke has added pace to the back row. David Curry, Peter Dillon and Matthew Nelson all played rugby together at Wallace High School. The club have added depth to the playing squad this season that was not available last season with players competing for starting places on the 1st xv.

Limavady v Randalstown

Head coach Graeme Eastwood and his players are looking forward to the top of the table clash with unbeaten Randalstown at the John Hunter Playing Fields on Saturday. His players came through a tough test against a much improved Ards side in the Junior Cup. In fact Ards were leading 5 – 3 after the first quarter with Limavady responding with 25 points in the second quarter to take control of the game. The players at Limavady have been bouncing in training this week in anticipation of the game with Randalstown. They have been putting in the work with players competing for starting places. The coaches tinkered slightly with the selection against Ards but will be showing Randalstown the utmost respect this week. The game on Saturday gives Limavady an opportunity to get a foot in the door at the top of the table.

Injuries continue to have an impact with full back Gavin Martin hoping to come through a fitness test tonight for this weekend . Centre Michael Barr dislocated his shoulder against Carrick in pre season. He returned on Saturday only to dislocate and chip his shoulder 10 mins from the end of the game with Ards. Michael has been very unlucky with injuries after working hard in pre season. As Graeme put it the club will ensure that he gets all the support he needs in his rehab from this setback. Back Jamie Millar is still unavailable after picking up an injury in his last cricket match of the season.

Hooker Luke Montgomery remains suspended after picking up a red card early in the league game at Larne. In his absence Adam Millar and Michael Rice have taken over the hooker duties. Michael Rice was unavailable last week and has returned to the squad this week with Adam Millar expected to start after performing well against Ards. Darren Corrigan remains unavailable with a fractured hand.

Jonny Lees got 40 mins against Ards in his first game this season and will be available for the Randalstown match. Matthew Haslett is another player who has returned from injury and will start at full back on Saturday with Peter Wilson continuing at scrum half.

Limavady team: 1. Clive Scott, 2. Adam Millar, 3. John McCollum, 4. John Purcell, 5. Perry Semple, 6. Ben Riley/Stuart Simpson, 7. Jonny Lees, 8. Daniel Irvine, 9. Peter Wilson, 10. Luke Faulkner, 11. Stuart Roddy, 12. Jody McMurray, 13. Robert Lamberton, 14. Mark Woods, 15. Matthew Haslett, 16. Adam Currie, 17. Ben Riley/Stuart Simpson.

Former Limavady Grammar School player Ben Riley has been another player to make a big impact on the 1st xv in his first year out of school. He put in another big performance for the Limavady under 20s in their win over City of Derry last night.

Head coach Graeme Eastwood is full of praise for the work Peter Wilson does as CCRO in the Limavady area as well as his involvement with the Youth and under 20 squad.

From Randalstown 1st xv Manager Willie Allen – Winger Jordan Foster will be out with an ankle injury for 4 – 6 weeks with both out half Martin Connolly and Marty O’Neill facing late fitness tests after all three picked up injuries in the 31 – 28 Junior Cup defeat to Grosvenor last week. Last seasons Captain/second row David Millar will not be available this week. Scott McClenaghan will replace David Millar with Conor Murray replacing Jordan Foster otherwise the team will be along similar lines to the team that played last week. Given the results Limavady have had this season and the influx of AIL players to their team it will be a big ask for the Randalstown team to get a win at Limavady. Hopefully if the team can play as they can they can give Limavady a good match.

KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP/CONF DIV 2

Academy v Banbridge seconds

Ballymena seconds v UUC

Larne v Omagh seconds

Malone seconds v Lurgan