Donaghadee Match reports and notes.

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A much changed Donaghadee side travelled to Rifle Park for the second in their series of Conference League games – this time to face Banbridge II who had been heavily beaten in Carrick the previous weekend. With Chris Good, Matthew Kennedy, Tommy Scullion, Ryan Irvine, Paul Blewitt, Chris McGivern, Chris Scott and Andy Jarvis not travelling for a variety of reasons the coaching team once again explored their options with Blair Savage and Richard Bailey making their competitive debuts, Adam Torrans & Matthew Johnson both moving into the unfamiliar second row position and Chris Hamilton, Mark Cooper and skipper Nigel Barker also returning for their first competitive game of the season. In the latter’s case this was indeed a welcome return after an injury absence of almost a year.

deeThe Banbridge side had evidently strengthened their personnel after last week’s performance and threatened from kick-off with their strong running centre punching holes in the Dee defence. Regrettably, at this point, the Dee appeared to have left their game plan and defensive line in the changing room and sustained home pressure led to a flying start with Banbridge scoring two converted tries in quick succession. This pattern continued for the next fifteen minutes with Banbridge threatening in Dee territory but gradually the away side scrambled their way back into the game led by the experience of Jack Cooke, Gareth Gordon and Hamilton in the forwards and Barker and in the backs their defence improved markedly and, ultimately, their line was not to be crossed again. On thirty minutes a break by Hamilton and Cooke paved the way for scrum half Chade Gelderman to release his backs with swift passing reaching outside centre Johnny Quigg who stood his man up before going outside & then inside the home defence to score from forty metres out. The conversion was missed and half time was reached with no further change to the scoreboard – 14-5 to Banbridge.

In the second half the Dee were a changed side and were now dominating most phases of play. The younger members of the pack – having taken the lead of their more senior peers – were now playing to their abilities and Gareth Deering, Owen Roberts and Johnson all impressed with stout defence and driving offence. Crucially the front row of Deering, Gordon & Savage had found the measure of their opposition and Gelderman had settled into his game and began to threaten from all phases of play allowing No. 10 Barker to bring his centres and back three into play. Wings Andy McGrugan and Andy Cash & full-back Bailey all threatened but, unfortunately, the final ball was either put to ground or chipped kicked away. Finally, on the fifty minute mark, sustained pressure by the Dee pack allowed Gelderman and Barker to spin the ball wide and clever work by centres Cooper & Quigg delivered a pass to the supporting Torrans who fed left wing Cash who raced in to score the second try. Barker added the extras with a difficult conversion from the corner.

With the Dee being now only two points behind they were in drop or penalty goal territory but, to their credit, they continued to spread the ball and only desperate Banbridge defence prevented further scoring. With fifteen minutes to go the Dee won a line-out fifteen metres out and, after ball was secured, Cooke extracted it from the back of the maul ten metres out and drove for the line with four of the home pack attempting to deny his progress. This was to prove to be of no avail as the No. 8 barged his way over the line carrying two of the opposition with him to score what was to prove to be the crucial try. Once again Barker kicked the difficult conversion. The Dee continued to attack in pursuit of the bonus point score but, in the final five minutes, Banbridge were sparked into life and threatened the Dee line virtually for the first time in the second half but sterling defence – led by Hamilton Cooke and Roberts up front and Barker, Cooper and Quigg in the backs – denied any further scoring to leave the final result 19-12 in favour of the Dee.

Although the coaching team will have been alarmed by the Dee’s slow start they will have taken great heart from the improving displays of some of the new boys and belligerent attitude of the side in adversity. Especially pleasing was the performance of the back row in which Jack Cooke and Chris Hamilton were outstanding (ably supported by the ever improving Owen Roberts). These Conference League games, if nothing else, are giving this fledgling side the opportunity to find their feet and they look forward to welcoming back not only most of those absentees mentioned above but also the likes of Billy Allen and Richard Martindale before the start of the Qualifying League in October.


With quite a number of those who may have been expected to have played in this game travelling to Banbridge Co-Captains Stephen Cullen & Davy Kirkpatrick (himself having succumbed to a medium- term absence due to injury) would have been wary about such a fixture against one of the Junior League 3 favourites. Cullen & Kirkpatrick selected an exceptionally young & inexperienced squad who acquitted themselves admirably against the men from the Toon and were well in the game at a half-time scoreline of 10-0 against. However the greater power and experience of the Kilraughts Road men took it’s toll in the second period and they ran out worthy winners by 24-3. The game was delayed for thirty five minutes due a serious injury to a Ballymoney player – all at Donaghadee RFC wish him a speedy recovery – and this did nothing in terms of maintaining the momentum which the Dee side had begun to build. The side now looks forward to the second league game of the season with more than a little optimism given that they would hope to welcome back some regulars for the long road trip to face Virginia 1st XV on 26th of September.


Qualifying 2

Ballymoney 19 Enniskillen 23

Larne 31 Grosvenor 15

Randalstown 15 Coleraine 10

Qualifying 1

Ballyclare 18 Portadown 25

Bangor 52 CIYMS 0

Dromore 8 Clogher Valley 7

Instonians 40 Omagh 8

Conference 1 & 2

Ballynahinch 2s 39 Ards 7

Belfast Harlequins 2s 27 Cooke 41

Ballymena 2s 43 Lisburn 25

Malone 2s 29 Academy 17

Queens 2s w/o Carrick (Queens could not field)


The 1st XV continue their Conference League programme this Saturday when they face Queens II at Donaldson Park – kick-off 2:30pm. Both the 2nd & 3rd XVs have no game this weekend.






This season, rather than have Pre-Match lunches before each 1st XV home league game, Club Council have decided to concentrate on 4/5 key games in the hope of maximising attendances for these events. As the Qualifying League does not start until October for Donaghadee these dates have not yet been finalised but details will appear in the local papers, Club website & social media well in advance. If, however, you would like a bite to eat prior to any other home 1st XV game there will be soup & sandwiches (or similar) available for most matches for a nominal fee covering the cost and provided you book at least three days in advance – again, further details later.




Registered members of the Club website can now pay for their Club memberships through the Pitchero website. In addition, at the bottom of the Subscriptions page is the Donaghadee RFC membership form for those that wish to fill it in and pay Club subscriptions in the more traditional manner.




The rugby season is up and running again and we had our first training session/registration for Minis and Youth on Sunday past. It was great to see such a huge turnout with all age groups represented from P1 through to Year 9’s.


Guy Mcmanus, as Club and Community Rugby Officer, will again be going into Primary and Secondary Schools to coach and promote rugby and get the kids involved with their local club.


Guy has also taken on the role as Volunteer Co-ordinator at the Club and would ask if any of the Minis or Youth Mums and Dads would like to get involved at the club as a Volunteer to please get in touch with him. Guy can be found at the Club every Sunday at training or you can ring or email him.


As numbers of Minis and Youth players increase the Club are always looking for new coaches so if you would like to get involved in the coaching side of things please talk to Guy or Niall Moraghan, the Mini/Youth Convenor.


In addition, as the numbers of girls now playing rugby at the club are increasing we are especially looking for Mums/ladies to take up coaching roles. So regardless, of what level of experience you have or don’t have if you would like to get involved in coaching please talk to Niall or Guy. The Club will arrange for you to attend the one day LTPD course which is run by Ulster Branch. (Long Player Development Course). If you feel you would be more comfortable you could take up a role as an assistant coach and be mentored by one of our accredited coaches and then go on and complete your LTPD course.


Finally, last season’s P7’s played on Friday night at the Kingspan Stadium during the half time interval between Ulster & Ospreys last Friday night. Although the result against Bangor P7’s did not go our way the players were exceptional. Everyone of them played their hearts out as a team and did Donaghadee Rugby Club proud. So thank you to all the players and the parents for their attendance and support.

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