Domestic Rugby preview for Sat 9th March 2019 by George Millar

38 minutes, 56 seconds Read

To follow INTOUCH RUGBY on Facebook CLICK HERE to Follow InTouch Schools & Clubs Rugby in Ulster & Lifestyle Specials page on Facebook CLICK HERE for TWITTER CLICK HERE

Have to apologise to the followers of the Domestic Rugby preview on the inaccurate information I published last week on the preview of the top of the table clash between Academy and Limavady at Roughfort. I was told that a number of players would be unavailable to play for Limavady in this match. When I learned on Saturday the details of the Limavady team I was left gutted and felt let down. I have always prided myself on the accuracy and the integrity of the content I publish in this preview. It left me questioning whether I should continue with my efforts to promote the grassroots game in Ulster.

I forgot to mention the achievement of University of Ulster Coleraine in winning the Men’s Div 3 title defeating University College Cork in the Final. It also got me asking the question how many teams from Ulster have we competing in these All Ireland Student leagues.
Div 1 : University of Ulster Coleraine.
Div 3B: Ulster University Coleraine, Ulster University Magee, Ulster University Jordanstown.
Div 3C: Stranmillis College, Queens University Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College.


There has been quite a turnaround in the performances of the Queens University Rugby teams this season. The 1st xv sit in 4th place in Div 2A as they target the playoffs for a place in Div 1B next season. The team surprised DIV 1A side UCD to return the Dudley Cup to the Dub after defeating them 29 – 24 in a thrilling game at the Dub on the 16th November 2018. The second xv are favourites to win Provincial league 1. They have a ten point advantage over Crawford Cup holders Ballynahinch 4ths with four games remaining and play Academy 1st xv in the semi finals of the McCrea Cup at the Dub on the 16th March 2019. The 3rd xv have won Provincial 4 with two games remaining. They have a 28 point advantage over second place Cooke 2nd xv. The Club also have a 4th xv that compete in Student Sport Ireland Division 3C.

Under Head coach Derek Suffern assisted by DJ Creighton, Davy Chambers, Colin Hamilton and Peter Weir Queens are regularly seeing 70 + players attending training. With no Ulster players apart from Agnus Kernohan the coaches have assembled a strong playing squad this season with players buying into the goals of the club. The hard work put in by people like Chris Moore and President Ian McAvoy to encourage students to play their rugby at Queens University has paid dividends for the club. The facilities at the Dub are on a par with any club on the island of Ireland with an experienced coaching team led by Derek Suffern realising the potential within the Club.

We have witnessed Rory Bell, Captain David Whitten and Alexander Clarke represent the Irish Universities side against the Scottish Universities at the Dub Lane on the 10th February 2019.

Former Queens University, Ballymena, Ulster, Irish and British Lions winger Trevor Ringland was appointed President of the Irish Universities Rugby Union for 2018/19

Had the pleasure to travel with Ross Workman to the Omagh v City of Derry All Ireland League match at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields last Saturday. This was a crucial league match for both teams with Omagh in need of the points to make the playoffs and City of Derry fighting for every point to keep their place in the All Ireland League. Omagh had lost out in the playoffs to Belfast Harlequins for a place in Div 2B after returning to the AIL last season. City of Derry endured relegation last season and were a club in danger of dropping out of the All Ireland League. They brought in Paul O’Kane as Director of Rugby. His efforts have encouraged a number of former players to take on coaching and management roles on the playing side within the club. 2019 has witnessed the 1st xv fighting hard to retain their place in Div 2C. It is also worth pointing out how their seconds and thirds are competing for league titles with the club able to field a 4th xv to play friendlies. Progress has not only been achieved with the Adult side of the club with numbers playing Youth rugby increasing as the season progresses.

150 patrons attended an excellent pre match lunch that would have struggled to attain such numbers not that long ago. The work of volunteers at Omagh RFC has paid dividends with plans to develop existing facilities. The club field four adult sides and continue to build on their strong Youth structures within the club. The two clubs have a strong community base and that was reflected in the number of supporters who travelled from the North West.

The game itself was full of commitment from two talented teams. The pace within the Omagh threequarters proved decisive led by full back Ali Beckett with winger Matthew Eccles scoring three tries. Omagh Captain and scrum half Stewart McCain is a key driving force for this Omagh team with his leadership crucial on the pitch. With the experienced Head coach Phil Marshall assisted by former Ulster scrum half Ashley Blair – Omagh are in good hands as they continue to build on moving the team forward in the All Ireland League.

City of Derry surprised me with the rugby they played and maybe with a bit more direction on the pitch could and maybe should have won this match. They were leading in the third quarter and had an opportunity to extend their lead only for Omagh to punish them with three quick tries. The City of Derry half backs Rory McGinty and Alex McDonnell were impressive throughout the match with McGinty scoring two excellent individual tries. Terrific advert for club rugby with nine tries scored as Omagh held on for a 32 – 25 win.

Rugby is alive and well west of the Bann with Enniskillen, Clogher Valley, Omagh, Dungannon, City of Derry, Limavady and Rainey OB demonstrating the strength of Domestic rugby in the rural clubs.

Ballynahinch 7 x teams
Banbridge 5 x teams
Ballymena 5 x teams
Ballyclare 5 x teams
City of Armagh 4 x teams
Dungannon 4 x teams
Omagh 4 x teams
Belfast Harlequins 4 x teams
Queens University 4 x teams
Ballymoney 4 x teams
Portadown 4 x teams
Carrickfergus 4 x teams

I know clubs like City of Derry and Enniskillen have been able to field a 4th xv to play friendlies.

Provincial 1 : Queens University seconds favourites to win league.
Provincial 2: Carrickfergus seconds and City of Armagh thirds competing for league.
Provincial 3: Enniskillen seconds, City of Derry seconds and Randalstown seconds competing for league.
Provincial 4: Queens University thirds won league
Provincial 5: Ballyclare fourths, Banbridge fourths, Academy seconds competing for league.
Provincial 6: Randalstown thirds and Carrickfergus thirds competing for the league.

Regional Premier: Enniskillen thirds, Ballymoney fourths and Grosvenor thirds competing for the league.
Regional West: City of Derry thirds favourites to win league
Regional South: City of Armagh fourths and Dromore thirds competing for league
Regional North: Rainey OB thirds, Carrickfergus fourths and Academy thirds competing for league.
Regional East: Ballymena fourths and Ards thirds competing for league.

Towns Cup Semi Finals: Ballyclare v City of Armagh seconds, Clogher Valley v Enniskillen
McCrea Cup Semi Finals: Cooke v Grosvenor, Queens University seconds v Academy 1st xv
Crawford Cup Final: Banbridge thirds v Ballynahinch fourths
Crawford Cup Plate Final: Dromore seconds v Enniskillen seconds
Foster Cup Final: Academy seconds v Ballyclare fourths
Foster Cup Plate Final: Ballyclare thirds v Instonians thirds
McCambley Cup semi Finals: Dromore thirds v rainey OB thirds, Ballymoney fourths v Enniskillen thirds.
Butler Shield Cup semi Finals: City of Derry thirds v Cookstown, Ballymena fifths v Coleraine thirds.

Randalstown conceded their match against Enniskillen on Wednesday night with Enniskillen progressing through to the semi finals where they will play the winners of the match between Omagh/Dungannon and Rainey OB on Wednesday the 13th March 2019 with a 7.45PM KO.

I was overwhelmed by the response to my e mail on the issues I listed last week – currently impacting on the Domestic game in Ulster. What it told me there is a need to look at the playing structures/templates we have in Ulster. The feedback is questioning the length of our nine month season and to consider a winter break. There is also the question of fixtures over lapping with Six Nations and the European Rugby Schedule. These issues don’t seem to arise in Leinster, Munster or Connacht during the season.

I understand the Competitions Management Committee come up with proposals each year to resolve the issue of too many games with too few Saturdays to play matches on. Any suggestions to reduce the number of teams in leagues is rejected. Who then is concerned about the welfare of the players and the crippling injury list we witness each season as tired and fatigued bodies are asked to play more club rugby fixtures.

One of the main problems I am told to implementing change is the term ‘Senior’ and the elevated position that senior clubs hold within the Ulster Branch. The General Committee that consists only of ‘Senior’ clubs means that their views override all other committees within the Ulster Branch. I am told they have little or no interest in the ‘Junior’ game that includes clubs competing in the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship. This is not helped by maintaining Past Presidents indefinitely on this Committee. Why in 2019 is this allowed to happen.

Have to say what I have learned has not surprised me and probably the wider rugby family in Ulster. Change is needed to the current arrangements if we are to sustain and retain the playing numbers in Ulster. Without the players and the coaches we need to service the clubs the game will die in Ulster. Coaches and Players time outside rugby needs to be taken into consideration when planning league and Cup schedules. Many coaches and players have family and work commitments that have to be taken into consideration to find workable resolutions on the way forward. If the age profile continues to drop each season we will no longer have adult rugby as we know it in Ulster.

Can we not learn the lessons from Leinster, Munster and Connacht in managing our Domestic game. Their league programmes will be completed this weekend. In Ulster we are still trying to squeeze in rearranged fixtures to an already congested fixture schedule. When will lessons be learned.

Is it not time in Ulster that the committees at the Ulster Branch reflect the changing demands the game has placed on Clubs, Coaches and Players in 2019. There should be no difference between clubs being represented on committees whether they compete in the All Ireland League or the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship.

Regulations are a necessity in managing and overseeing teams participating in competitions. Sometimes I have to question is there no flexibility in making such decisions when you hear of teams being eliminated from Cup competitions on a technicality. My belief is that a rugby match and its outcome should be decided on a rugby pitch not on the basis of enforcing or complying with the rules.

What shocked the rugby community in Ulster last weekend was the inability of Ulster’s leading AIL Club Malone to field a second xv to play a second xv match at Omagh last Saturday. We have witnessed how a club like Malone were able to field five teams two seasons ago. I know the time and effort Davy Heron has put in at Malone to look after the second xv along with Sam McBurney and Harry McMurtry. The difficulty for them is that the players are not making themselves available to play rugby on a Saturday. Are their lessons for the other AIL clubs with teams competing in this league. I noticed the second xv match between Ballymena seconds and City of Armagh seconds last weekend was turned into a double header. This week we will see the game between Banbridge seconds and Ballymena seconds played as a double header. What are these arrangements telling us. The teams are playing too much rugby after competing in the Conference leagues, Junior Cup, Towns Cup and the McCrea Cup. Several clubs are telling me the commencement of the Cricket leagues in April is forcing clubs to complete their outstanding matches with players playing both codes.
This weekend the top two teams City of Armagh seconds and Ballynahinch seconds meet at Ballymacarn Park in a game that could decide the potential winners of the league this season. What may have gone unnoticed is that we have two Ulster Div 1B clubs second xv teams Malone and Banbridge fighting it out to avoid finishing in 6th place. What takes place at the end of each season is a playoff match between the highest placed Ulster AIL second xv team in Provincial 1 and the team finishing in 6th place in the second xv league. Queens University second xv are favourites to win Provincial 1 and are keen to have their second xv competing in the Conference league along with the Junior Cup next season. Are we facing the possibility of seeing either Malone or Banbridge second xv playing their rugby in Provincial 1 next season. Have to ask the question where does this fit with the Participation criteria introduced with a fanfare by the IRFU for the teams competing in the All Ireland League.
If Banbridge seconds lose their double header against Ballymena seconds on Saturday both Malone and Banbridge seconds will have their work cut out to avoid the playoff match.

Interesting weekend with 17 teams completing the double over their opponents to back up their Round 5 wins. There were 7 x reverse results with Nenagh Ormond and Cashel drawing 10 – 10 after Cashel won the Round 4 meeting.
DIv 1A: 4 x doubles with one reverse result.
DIv 1B : 2 x doubles with 3 x reverse results.
Div 2A: 4 x doubles with 1 x draw.
Div 2B: 2 x doubles with 3 x reverse results.
Div 2C : 5 x doubles.

What do these results tell us: In Div 1B five points separate the top four teams that include Ulster sides – Malone, Ballynahinch and City of Armagh with three points separating the teams in 5th to 9th place. Ballymena find themselves 12 points behind 9th place Banbridge with four games remaining. Both these teams meet at Eaton Park this week. In Div 2A: Queens University made it 4 wins from five to move into 4th place eight points behind 3rd place Navan RFC. In Div 2B: Rainey OB remain in 3rd place but face a difficult run in of fixtures against four teams in the top six. Up until a couple of weeks ago 9th and 10th place look like a contest between four teams including Dungannon and Belfast Harlequins. A win for Dungannon at home this week to 10th place Sunday’s Well could leave the Cork side struggling for league points to keep their place in this Division. With eight points separating the teams in 5th – 9th place could we see one of these teams make a late charge for the top four and the playoffs. Important weekend for the three Ulster teams in this league. In Div 2C : Omagh remain in 4th place four points behind 3rd place Bruff with the ever improving Malahide closing in on Omagh with two points separating these two teams. Both Bangor and City of Derry occupy 7th and 8th place six and five points ahead of 9th and 10th place Seapoint and Thomond who are level on 18 points. City of Derry and Bangor meet at the Craig Thompson Stadium this weekend in a crucial game for both teams.

Malone struggled to break down a well organised Buccaneers side at Gibson Park going down 11 – 6. Banbridge paid the price for their inaccuracy going down 22 – 0 to league leaders Old Wesley at Donnybrook. Ballynahinch have been quietly going about their business with their defensive effort once again securing them an important 13 – 5 win over Naas to back up their win over Banbridge. City of Armagh punished Ballymena handling errors to pick up a bonus point in their 27 – 15 win over 10th place Ballymena at the Palace Grounds.

Div 2A
Queens University made it four bonus point wins out of five with their Irish University players Rory Bell and David Whitten once again amongst the try scorers in their 24 – 17 win at Blackrock College.

Despite missing several experienced players from their team – Rainey OB picked up a valuable losing point in their 27 – 20 loss at Skerries. Both Dungannon and Belfast Harlequins maintained their recent good form in 2019 with wins at the weekend. Dungannon picked up another bonus point in their 24 – 0 win over Galway Corinthians at Stevenson Park with James McMahon amongst the try scorers. Belfast Harlequins secured their first home win this season in the AIL with a 15 – 7 win over Wanderers to complete the double over the Dublin visitors.

Omagh had to dig deep at home to defeat visitors City of Derry 32 – 25. Once again it was their full back Ali Beckett who broke the hearts of the North West side with his elusive running proving decisive as the home side stretched their lead to score six tries. City of Derry did rally to pick up a valuable losing bonus point through their impressive scrum half Rory McGinty. Bangor just can’t buy a win at present to lose their seventh AIL game in a row at home to Tullamore 16 – 5.

Teams in DIV 1A and DIV 1B can select up to six Provincial Contracted Players (Excluding Development and Academy Players) in their panel with only three as forwards. To be eligible for a clubs final four matches in the AIL season those selected contracted players must have started and played a minimum of 3 AIL matches in the first half of the season. To be eligible to play in the DIV 1A and DIV 1B playoffs those selected contracted players must have played and started in a minimum of four AIL games in the first half of the season. No Provincially contracted players are allowed to play in DIV 1B/2A Playoff matches.

At the Cloughan on Saturday 80 mins of rugby failed to separate the top two teams Instonians and Ballyclare with the match finishing in a 5 – 5 draw. This result leaves Instonians three points ahead of 2nd place Ballyclare with two matches to play against Carrickfergus and neighbours Cooke. Ballyclare have a game in hand with this rearranged fixture to be played at Shawsbridge on Tuesday 12th March. Their two remaining games are against Coleraine and home to Dromore on the 23rd March. With Dromore also having a game in hand at home to Enniskillen the destination of this seasons league title has drawn Dromore back into the title race. They are four points behind 2nd place Ballyclare with games to play against Grosvenor and Ballyclare. The weekend results also saw Coleraine relegated to Div 2 after losing 38 – 10 at Grosvenor. The race is also on to avoid finishing in 9th place and the playoff. There are other permutations that could see two teams automatically relegated from Div 1 if one of the Ulster sides are relegated from Div 2C of the All Ireland League and the Div 1 winners are not promoted to the All Ireland League. Looking at the teams in 5th – 9th place you would have to say it looks like a contest between CIYMS, Enniskillen, Portadown and Cooke to avoid 9th place. Six points separate these four teams with CIYMS and Portadown having two games left to play, Enniskillen three games and Cooke four games. Matches involving these four teams this weekend could determine 9th place. CIYMS play Cooke at Belmont with Portadown hosting Enniskillen at Chambers Park. CIYMS lost their match at home to Enniskillen 17 – 11 on Saturday after leading 8 – 3 at halftime with Enniskillen forwards Davy Buchanan and Gavin Warrington scoring tries. Cooke lost 23 – 10 at Shawsbridge to Carrickfergus. A result that should secure their place in Div 1. Carrick will also be targeting 5th place in the league in the hope that the league winners are promoted to the AIL guaranteeing them a second consecutive season competing in the All Ireland Junior Cup. As you can see every match is crucial to the teams competing in the league this weekend. Coleraine under the coaching of Brian Hughes and Greg Jordan are looking a strong finish to their season to build momentum going forward from Div 2 next season. Two seasons ago both CIYMS and Coleraine secured promotion to Div 1 from Div 2. Coleraine now find themselves relegated with CIYMS battling it out to retain their place in Div 1.

Limavady defeated Academy 16 – 13 at Roughfort in their top of the table clash to return to the top of the league. The win leaves Limavady level on points with Clogher Valley who have played one game more. Academy have dropped to 3rd place one point behind the top two teams having played one game more than Limavady. Randalstown remain in 4th place 9 and 10 points behind the top three teams with two games in hand. Any ambitions Randalstown have to finish in the top two could be decided if they lose at home to Limavady this weekend at Nelisbrook. You would expect Academy and Clogher Valley to pick up maximum points against Lisburn and Ards on Saturday.

Remaining fixtures for top four:

Limavady: Randalstown (A), Ballymoney (H), Larne (H), Clogher Valley (A)
Clogher Valley : Ards (H), Limavady(H), Randalstown (A) TBC
Academy: Lisburn (H), Lurgan (A), Ballymoney(A).
Randalstown: Limavady (H), Ards (A), Lisburn(A), Lurgan(A). Clogher Valley (H) TBC

Will it go down to the final league games on the 30th March to decide the two teams that will finish in 1st and 2nd place with the runners up going into a play off against the 9th place team in Div 1. Again what happens in the AIL could have an impact on number of teams promoted.

UUC have not given up hope that they can overtake Lisburn to finish in 9th place. Defeat at Larne this weekend will see the students relegated to Div 3. Lisburn are in an equally precarious position if an Ulster team is relegated from the AIL and no Ulster team is promoted to replace them. Anxious weeks for clubs involved in promotion and relegation. Larne will be targeting wins over UUC and Lisburn to secure their place in Div 2 from their remaining three matches.

Donaghadee have a seven point advantage over second place Monaghan with four games remaining with Monaghan having played one game more. The North Down side have maintained their unbeaten record with 18 wins from 18. This weekend the focus for both Donaghadee and Monaghan will be to win their Gordon West Cup semi finals against Cavan and Holywood to secure a place in the Final at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday the 6th April.



Dublin University 10 Terenure College 7
Garryowen 7 Cork Constitution 15
Lansdowne 25 Young Munster 24
UCC 15 Shannon 3
UCD 17 Clontarf 26

St Mary’s College 10 Old Belvedere 7

Ballynahinch 13 Naas 5
City of Armagh 27 Ballymena 15

Malone 6 Buccaneers 11
Old Wesley 22 Banbridge 0

Nenagh Ormond 10 Cashel RFC 10. Played Friday 1.3.19. KO 8PM
Galwegians 0 Dolphin 28
Highfield 19 Old Crescent 7
UL Bohemians 17 Navan RFC 21
Blackrock College 17 Queens University 24

Sligo 17 Greystones 3
Sunday’s Well 20 MU Barnhall 27
Belfast Harlequins 15 Wanderers 7

Dungannon 24 Galway Corinthians 0
Skerries 27 Rainey OB 20

Malahide 19 Midleton 14
Seapoint 17 Bruff 20
Thomond 10 Ballina 41
Bangor 5 Tullamore 16

Omagh 32 City of Derry 25

Ballyclare 5 Instonians 5

CIYMS 11 Enniskillen 17
Cooke 10 Carrickfergus 23
Grosvenor 38 Coleraine 10

Portadown 5 Dromore 17 .

Ballymena seconds 10 City of Armagh seconds 17. (Played as a double header).
Banbridge seconds 14 Ballynahinch seconds 32

Omagh seconds v Malone seconds. Conceded by Malone seconds – Unable to field a team.

Academy 13 Limavady 16

Ards 12 Lurgan 6
Larne 11 Clogher Valley 19

Lisburn 5 Ballymoney 31
Randalstown 45 UUC 5 .

Cavan 38 Ophir 5
Civil Service 10 Strabane 14
Donaghadee 64 Letterkenny 0
Holywood 5 Virginia 18
Monaghan 29 Newry 5



Clontarf (3) v Shannon (7)
Cork Constitution (1) v Lansdowne (2)
Terenure College (10) v UCC (8)
UCD (6) v Garryowen (5)
Young Munster (9) v Dublin Uni (4)

Ballymena (10) v Banbridge (9)
Buccaneers (7) v Ballynahinch (3)
City of Armagh (4) v St Mary’s College (5)
Naas (6) v Old Wesley (1)
Old Belvedere (8) v Malone (2)

Ballymena v Banbridge
Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham: Despite the precarious position the 1st xv find themselves in – the coach is convinced his team can retain their place in Div 1B starting with an win over Ulster rivals Banbridge at Eaton Park this week with four games remaining. The coach was disappointed his side did not come away with points from their match at City of Armagh. His playing squad does not have enough quality players to finish the chances off they are creating. As he pointed out they created five clear chances but could not finish them off along with two other opportunities. The team kept possession for long periods against City of Armagh. 2/3 mistakes gifted Armagh tries. The coach felt Armagh were the better team and were more clinical with ball in hand and deserved their win. He feels the Ballymena team are not far away from performing for 80 mins. The difficulty is breaking that cycle of a losing run. Every one of his players worked hard. This weekend is about his players performing against Banbridge. He acknowledges Banbridge represent a big challenge for his players. It is about his team fighting for their lives. In this league things can be turned around very quickly. His team cannot afford to lose against Banbridge with Old Belvedere and Buccaneers playing at home.

The numbers attending training are 40 + with a positive environment in the playing squad. Missing from the playing squad this weekend are Stephen Mulholland, Bruce Houston, David Whann, Jonny McMullan, Rodger McBurney and Mark Foster. The coach has been full of praise for the efforts of Captain Marcus Rea and his leadership on the pitch. Connor Smyth has been another example of a player who gives 100% in every match. He is awaiting confirmation that John Andrews and Clive Ross will be released this week. Winger Jordan Foster is not available. JJ McKee has been training with the Ireland Under 20 squad this week.

Ballymena team 1. Nacho Clandero Crespo, 2. John Andrews, 3. Chris Cundell, 4. JJ McKee, 5. Connor Smyth, 6/7/8 from Matthew Dick, Marcus Rea, Clive Ross and Phil Campbell, 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Timmy Small. 11. Glenn Baillie, 12. Darrell Montgomery, 13. Paddy James, 14. Jonny Rossborough, 15. Matthew Norris, 16/17/18 from James Taggart, Josh Bill, Andrew Ferguson, Jonny Spence, Phil Campbell, Matthew Dick, Connor White. 20. Alan Smyth.

Andy Graham is delighted to have a settled backline for the second week running. It has been a case of players in and out during the season. It is a matter of finding out what suits and what works. The coach is expecting a very difficult game against Banbridge. Saturday is about looking after the ball and working hard to keep possession. He is hoping the consistency in selection will help the players to be more creative and clinical in finishing off the chances they are creating.

There is an air of positivity at Ballymena RFC with the club fielding five adult teams. The Youth Section continues to grow and develop each season with young back row forward Phil Campbell the latest player to come through from the Youth section to play for the Clubs 1st xv. The emphasis at the club is to look after all the players whether they play for the 1st xv or the 5th xv. This season the club have provided a coach for all teams to travel to one or two matches. This approach makes all the teams and their players feel important and that they all have a connection with the club. Off the field the club are in a good position and have ambitious plans to improve their facilities at Eaton Park.

Ulster releases: Marcus Rea with John Andrews and Clive Ross TBC. Both Bruce Houston and Azur Allison remain on the injured list.

Banbridge Head coach Simon McKinstry knows his side are a win away from making the top four . That is the sort of league Div 1B has been this season. It is all about winning the next game and seeing where that takes the team. He agrees Old Wesley are an useful side. He felt his team were in the game after trailing 10 – 0 at halftime last weekend. The team put themselves in good positions but handling errors cost them dearly. Old Wesley got the first score of the second half to put themselves in a strong position. He had no excuses – Old Wesley were the better team and deserved the win. The video viewing on Tuesday night highlighted the handling errors during the match. Both Jonny Little and Ethan Harbinson picked up injuries with both doubtful for Saturday. The coaches will await the release of Greg Jones, Jonny Stewart and Caleb Montgomery by Ulster Rugby. Alex Thompson played his last game for Banbridge as he headed off to NZ this week before he joins up with Jersey in the summer. Connacht hooker Jonny Murphy is ruled out of the remaining games as he has only played two AIL games for Banbridge. Out half Josh Cromie missed the Old Wesley game because of injury and remains a doubt for the Ballymena game. Both David McCann and Callum Reid have been training with the Ireland under 20 squad this week. Hugo Harbinson is ruled out with a fracture he picked up against Ballynahinch. Two weeks ago Banbridge played Malone to go top of the league. Two weeks later they find themselves in 9th place. It is all about the team winning the next game.
The coach is expecting a difficult game at Ballymena. Banbridge find themselves just one place above 10th place Ballymena. He wants his team to play the way he knows they can play to win on Saturday. Banbridge are on a three match losing run at present in the AIL.

Ulster releases: James Hume released with Caleb Motgomery, David McCann, Greg Jones and Jonny Stewart TBC.

In the Round 4 meeting at Rifle Park on the 27.10 18 Banbridge won 38 – 8 at Rifle Park

Buccaneers v Ballynahinch
Ballynahinch coach Tom Rock: Delighted his players backed up their win over Banbridge with another win at home to Naas. The players are working hard with their work ethic and their ability to close out games helping them to ground out wins. He feels that the team is able to win games at present that they maybe would have lost. The defeat at home to Old Wesley has been a turning point. Banbridge were second in the league when they played Ballynahinch. Now they find themselves in 9th place. With only four games left in the league it is tight. No one team is safe or secure in this league. There is concern within the clubs over the impact the Ulster trip to the USA will have on the release of players to play in Rounds 15 – 18. With the staggered nature of the fixtures involving the four provinces – teams will face fixtures in the All Ireland League with no releases from their provinces against teams who will have provincial releases to strengthen their teams. What impact will this have on teams involved in promotion and relegation matches. Does this approach from the IRFU and the provinces challenge the impact on the integrity of the league at this crucial stage of the season. The question being asked is what is the rationale on playing these fixtures during this key stage of the AIL. There is an assumption that the clubs and their teams can cope without these players. Ballynahinch are one of the clubs who have always treated the Ulster players as an integral part of their playing squad. Player safety will be a major concern with young players being asked to fill positions against experienced players. Teams have no control over what is happening. It will place teams at a disadvantage with no parity in selections. Ballynahinch are developing a young squad to challenge for promotion this season after missing out in the playoffs last season. These are exciting times at the club. He feels the team could be top of the league if they had been more clinical against Old Wesley. It is all about building momentum going into these remaining games. The players have learned from their experience on missing out last season. Last Saturday against Naas – Ballynahinch played against 40 mph winds at Ballymacarn Park in the first half. They turned around 5 – 0 down and managed the game well to win. He felt the players were smart in how they managed the game using their scrum effectively in the difficult conditions as an alternative to kicking the ball.

This week they travel to play a Buccaneers side fighting for their lives. The squad picked up no injuries at the weekend apart from sore bodies after a physical game with Naas. The coaches are aware it will take another huge effort from the players to win this match at Dubarry Park in Athlone.

Second row James Simpson remains an injury doubt after missing the match with Naas. Back row forward Ollie Loughead remains unavailable due to injury. Prop Campbell Classon is targeting a return for the final block of games. Prop Kelvin Hamilton came through the the seconds match at Banbridge last Friday night. What impressed the coaches in the seconds match was the performances put in by winger Joe Bingham who scored two tries and loose head prop Scott Connolly the former Down High School player. Injuries continue to rule out second xv players Ralph Mealiff, Ronan Patterson and Daniel Dawson with work and family commitments ruling out second xv Captain Matthew Norton. The second xv are a young team that have experienced a lot of turnover in playing personnel this season. The club are excited about this crop of young players with Tom Martin another player to impress this season.

Ulster releases: Johnny McPhillips, Peter Nelson, Tom O’Toole, Zac McCall and Jack Regan TBC. Injury rules out Aaron Hall with Iwan Hughes involved with sevens programme.

In the Round 4 meeting at Ballymacarn Park on 27.10.18 Ballynahinch won a high scoring game 42 – 31.

City of Armagh v St Mary’s College
Chris Parker City of Armagh: Jonny Morton has returned to training this week and comes into contention for selection. Winger Andrew Willis has returned to training and will not be fit for this weekend. Prop Daryl Morton got game time with the seconds against Ballymena and will come into contention for the 1st xv.

In the Round 4 meeting at Templeville Road on 27.10.18 St Mary’s College won 27 – 11.

Old Belvedere v Malone
Malone Head coach Paddy Armstrong: The weather dictated the game against Buccaneers last weekend. Training has been very good this week with the coaches and players looking forward to the challenge Old Belvedere will present. Ben McCaughey should come into contention this week with the coach expecting few changes depending on physio calls.

Ulster releases: Joe Dunleavy, Graham Curtis and Matty Dalton with release of Jack Owens, Ross Kane and Adam McBurney TBC. Injury continues to rule out Stewart Moore and Matty Agnew.

In the Round 4 meeting at Gibson Park on 27.10.18 Malone defeated Old Belvedere 39 – 11

Cashel RFC (2) v Galwegians (10)
Dolphin (7) v Highfield (1)
Navan RFC (3) v Old Crescent (6)
Queens University (4) v Nenagh Ormond (8)
UL Bohemians (5) v Blackrock College (9)

Queens University v Nenagh Ormond
Queens made it four wins from five in 2019 to pick up 20/25 points to move into the playoffs. This week coaches Derek Suffern and DJ Creighton welcome back Andrew McGrath, Andrew Weir, Curtis Pollock and Davy Chambers into contention for a place in the matchday 20 against Nenagh Ormond at the Dub. Conor McAuley, Nicky Woods and Conor Shiels remain on the injured list and are expected to be available for the final block of matches. Jack Sleator and Toby Jozwiak are expected to be replaced by Davy Chambers and either Curtis Pollock/Andrew McGrath on the bench. Former Bangor Grammar and Bangor RFC second row Martin Withers continues to press hard for a stating place on the 1st xv as he provides cover from the bench.

In Round 4 meeting at New Ormond Park on 27.10.18 Nenagh Ormond defeated Queens Uni 32 – 31 in a high scoring match

Dungannon (8) v Sunday’s Well (10)
Galway Corinthians (5) v Rainey OB (3)
Greystones (2) v Skerries (7)
MU Barnhall (1) v Belfast Harlequins (9)
Wanderers (6) v Sligo (4)

Dungannon v Sunday’s Well
Dungannon Head coach Andrew Hughes: The Head coach has a clean bill of health from their impressive win over Galway Corinthians last Saturday with the usual bumps and bruises from the weekend game. Lucca Avelli did not train on Tuesday night but is expected to be fit. Scrum half John Russell is unavailable this week and will be replaced by Conor Milnes otherwise the team is expected to be similar to last week. The key for Dungannon is getting through the next two games against Sunday’s Well and Belfast Harlequins. The positives for the coaches are the players are starting to get to know each other and their roles on the pitch. With greater numbers attending training there is a togetherness in the squad with the different combinations coming together. The coach has a squad of 22/25 players training and competing for places on the 1st xv. He is pleased to see how the unit at 8, 9, 10 and 12 is gelling together. Scrum half John Russell has been a key player with his performances this season in particular his defensive work. The return of number 8 James McMahon has had a big impact on the playing squad. He is a different class with his confidence growing as he gets more game time. Alex Gormley who joined the club from Enniskillen is another player who is playing out of his skin for the team. Captain Mark Riddell continues to get stronger as his fitness level improves with his back row colleague David Leyburn putting in his usual hard shift. Both hookers Malcolm Allister and Daniel Maxwell continue to impress. With the numbers at training there is a different attitude with the players buying into and understanding what the team are trying to achieve from the remaining games. The only decision the coach has to make for this weekend is whether to go with four forwards and one back on his bench or a three and two split. He is pleased to see Jordan McIIwaine, Jonny Toal and Sean O’Hagan getting valuable game time for the seconds in their win over Belfast Harlequins seconds last Saturday. All these players will be needed for the remaining four AIL games. Centre Mark Faloon is unavailable for the remainder of the season with winger Andrew McPhillips another week away from being fit for selection.

Against Galway Corinthians the bench had a big impact. For the players it is all about winning to keep their interest in the remaining matches. Forwards Stephen Todd, Daniel Maxwell and Glenn Sinnamon made a big impact off the bench with backs Conor McGeough and Conor Milnes getting game time in the second half.

For the Dungannon players every game is a Cup Final as the players fight to keep their place in Div 2B this season. Sunday’s Well are a frustrating team to play against. They will scrap for everything. Discipline will be important. Last season they took Dungannon on up front and over powered their pack. The coaches are expecting a hugely physical game. With every game a Cup Final the players have responded well.

In the Round 4 meeting at Irish Independent Park on 27.10.18 Sunday’s Well defeated Dungannon 20 – 8.

Galway Corinthians v Rainey OB
John Andrews Rainey OB Head coach: Andy Harbinson and Jack McIntosh return to the squad this week with winger Scott Mc Lean ruled out after picking up an injury at Skerries last Saturday.

In the Round 4 meeting at Hatrick Park on 27.10.18 Rainey defeated Galway Corinthians 21 – 17.

MU Barnhall v Belfast Harlequins
Neale Wislon: Selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

In the Round 4 meeting at Deramore Park on 27.10.18 MU Barnhall defeated Belfast Harlequins 38 – 21

Ballina (1) v Bruff (3)
City of Derry (8) v Bangor (7)
Midleton (2) v Omagh (4)
Thomond (10) v Malahide (5)
Tullamore (6) v Seapoint (9)

City of Derry v Bangor
City of Derry Director of Rugby Paul O’Kane is expecting to make a few changes this week with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.

Squad: 1. James Hamilton, 2 David Ferguson, 3. Barry Laverty, 4. Adam Bratton, 5. Conor McMenamin, 6. Craig Huey, 7. Chris Lamberton, 8. Stephen Corr (Capt), 9. Rory McGinty, 10. Alex McDonnell, 11. Thomas Cole, 12. David Graham, 13. David Lapsley, 14. James Perry, 15. Keelan Coyle, 16. Steven Duffy/Callum O’Hagan/ Ian Bratton, 17. Ross Harkin, 18. Gerard Doherty, 19. Tiernan Thorton, 20. Phil Duffy.

Injury and unavailability rules our Simon Logue, Sam Duffy, Ben Pollin and Cathal Cregan.

Paul O’Kane and his players are expecting another tight Ulster derby with Bangor.

Bangor Head coach Michael Ferguson: Bangor have picked up injuries from their loss at home to Tullamore with Philip Whyte, Jamie Clegg, Gareth Millar and Adam Alexander all ruled out this weekend.Charlie Clegg comes into the front row with Ethan Murray starting in the back row. In the backline Ally Lockhart starts at 9 with Liam Preston moving to 10. Phil Broderick returns to the backline after missing the match last Saturday. The coach is still to finalise his squad at training on Thursday night. He feels there has been a lot of improvement in the teams performances of late without getting the rewards due to the team. The coaches and players are hoping to turns things a round with a win at City of Derry this week.

In the Round 4 meeting at Upritchard Park on 27.10.18 Bangor defeated City of Derry 27 – 10

Midleton v Omagh

In the Round 4 meeting at the Thomas Mellon playing Fields Midleton defeated Omagh 29 – 7

CIYMS (9) v Cooke (6)
Coleraine (10) v Ballyclare (2)
Dromore (3) v Grosvenor (4)
Instonians (1) v Carrickfergus (5)
Portadown (7) v Enniskillen (8)

CIYMS v Cooke

When the two teams met at Shaws bridge on the 8.12.18 Cooke defeated CIYMS 34 – 20.

Coleraine v Ballyclare
Had the opportunity to catch up with Coleraine RFC Chairman of the Playing Committee Greg Jordan. With Benjy Van Der Byl stepping down to concentrate on his role as a coach with the Youth Section – Greg is not only helping Head coach Brian Hughes to coach the backs but turned out last Saturday to play for the 1st xv at Grosvenor. This defeat consigned the team to relegation to Div 2 with two games remaining. It has been a difficult season for everyone at the club. Losing players in the off season along with players losing heart set the club back with the 1st xv struggling to make an impact. Despite the difficulties the club have been able to field three adult teams. One person Greg speaks highly about is Harry Tate who has been instrumental in getting the seconds and thirds out. The thirds will play Ballymena fifths in the semi final of the Butler Shield on the 16th March 2019. As Greg put it losing games makes it harder to turn things around. There has been a hard core of players who have been the backbone of the 1st xv through out the season. One of the frustrating things is getting the players to buy into attending training. Greg is leading ideas on turning the playing side of the club around. The club are looking at appointing a DOR to oversee all levels of rugby within the club. The key is getting more people involved to help out at the club. Greg along with Ricky Huey and Benjy Van Der Byl are focusing on player development to bring more players into the club. The club have a thriving Youth structure with teams competing at Under 18,16 and 14s.
One interesting note is that Josh Christie is the only player left on the 1st xv who was part of the team that secured promotion from Div 2 to Div 1 two seasons ago along with CIYMS. One other area of concern is that the club have lost a generation of players in the 24 – 30 year old age group. What has not helped is the lack of investment in focusing on their Youth Section over the last 10 years.
Both Greg Jordan and Brian Hughes are committed to Coleraine RFC and with talented players such as Bradley Dempster and Bruce Kirkpatrick in their playing squad Greg is optimistic about the future. It will take a lot of hard work and commitment from everybody in the club to move forward. We wish him well.

In their first meeting at the Cloughan on the 8.12.18 Ballyclare won 40 – 8

Dromore v Grosvenor

In the first meeting at Gibson Park on the 8.12.18 Dromore won 46 – 7

Instonians v Carrickfergus

In their first meeting at the Tom Simms Memorial Grounds on the 8.12.18 Instonians won a close game 8 – 3.

Portadown v Enniskillen

When the two teams met at Mullaghmeen on the 29.12.18 Portadown won a close game 7 – 3


Cooke v Ballyclare. Played Tuesday 12th March 2019. KO 7.30PM

In their first meeting at the Cloughan on the 13.10.18 Ballyclare won 32 – 5.

Ballynahinch seconds (2) v City of Armagh seconds (1)
Banbridge seconds (5) v Ballymena seconds (4). Playing as a Double Header.

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

In their first meeting at Blaris on the 22.9.18 Academy won a high scoring game 44 – 29.

Ballymoney v Lurgan

In their first meeting at Pollack Park on the 22.9.18 Lurgan won a high scoring game 39 – 19.

Clogher Valley v Ards

In their first meeting at Hamilton Park on 6.10.18 Clogher Valley won a high scoring game 22 – 19.

Larne v UUC

In their first meeting at UUC on the 22.9.18 Larne won a close game 20 – 15.

Randalstown v Limavady

In their first meeting at the John Hunter Playing Fields on the 6.10.18 Limavady were convincing winners – winning 48 – 8.

Donaghadee v Cavan
Monaghan v Holywood

My apologies to the Championship clubs that I have not been able to catch up with this week.
Once again thank you for your support.
Enjoy your club rugby this weekend.


Arab online casinos on ازينو على الانترنت with arab casino games.

Similar Posts