Donaghadee RFC notes 1s, 2s, 3s and Max Montgomery on the cusp of winning Cambridge Blue!

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After the tremendous performance against CIYMS last week hopes were high that Donaghadee could take at least something from their trip to Barban Hill in the game against Dromore in the lastest round of Qualifying One. The Dee side lined up with the same personnel as last week with the exception of the unavailable Andrew Findlater – Ryan Irvine moving into the centre and Matthew Stockton taking over Irvine’s place on the right wing.

Dromore started strongly and from a lineout just inside the Dee 22 their strong pack mauled over the line for Michael Harshaw to score with scrum-half Lee Steenson adding the extras. The Dee hit back almost immediately after concerted phase play took them to a five metre scrum under the Dromore posts. At this point the Dee eight had their opponents under pressure in the set-piece and, after having been re-set on two occasions, No. 8 Stephen Adams first side-stepped and then barged his way under the posts for a try which Mark Cooper converted to tie up the scores.

The rest of the half was characterised by powerful driving from the Dromore pack, led by their No. 8 Rory Pepper, managed by Steenson whose kicking from hand was key in the blustery conditions. Although the Dee continued to exhibit some clever phase play it was Steenson who got the scoreboard moving again with a penalty. At this point Dee skipper & scrum-half Alastair Lockhart, who been struggling a hip injury sustained in the early exchanges, was sin-binned after an altercation with his opposite number, which led to further Dromore pressure. To their great credit the Dee defended manfully until Lockhart’s return and the sin-binning of a Dromore forward. This was probably the turning point of the game as the Dee were unable to take anything from their numerical advantage whilst Dromore added a further three points through the boot of Steenson.

The teams turned around at 13-7 to Dromore and then suffered a triple whammy when Lockhart was unable to return to proceedings for the second period due to his earlier injury, Chris Good was sin-binned for an alleged infringement leading to the last Steenson penalty and, within three minutes of the re-start, openside Chris Hamilton had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. To lose any one of this triumvirate would have been a blow but to lose one at a key time in the game and a further two for the rest of the match was to prove a hurdle too far for the Dee men. Although the Dee pack led by the ever robust efforts of Richard Martindale (pictured) competed well up front every break of the ball and 50/50 decision seemed to favour the Barban Hill men and they drew further ahead when a concerted drive and some clever interplay amongst the backs led to a try in corner with Steenson again converting.

The Dee threatened on a few occasions but the Dromore defence held firm aided by some mystifying refereeing decisions which fell in the home side’s favour. To be fair both sides suffered from this malaise throughout the game but, to their credit, Dromore dealt much better with this adversarial situation and closed out the game five minutes from the end when, with the Dee playing catch-up rugby from their own line, the ball was turned over and the home hooker crossed for a converted try to leave the final score 27-7.

A win for the home side, on reflection and given the circumstances described above, was probably a fair result but for the Dee to leave without even a losing bonus point was disappointing given the competitive nature of the game. The difference between the two sides was , however, the home sides ability to capitalise on errors and deal with the frequent reduction in manpower, occasioned by the plethora of yellow cards, much better than the Dee.

The Dee 1st XV now have a break next week before welcoming Ballymoney to Donaldson Park on Saturday 20th December in a game that will undoubtedly prove key to both sides seasons.


The Dee Seconds welcomed Ballyclare Thirds to Donaldson Park on Saturday last on the back of their 39-0 cup victory at Ophir the week before. With regular starters Dicky Bailey and Matthew Kane both missing the fixture due to work, combined with the poor weather conditions, the Dee men knew they had a task on their hands. However Andy Monson and Ian Martindale both stepped in and made telling contributions at fullback and inside centre respectively.

The opening period was a frantic affair as both sides searched for some early control on a wet day, in which ball handling was not the easiest skill to execute. Some early mistakes by Ballyclare allowed the Dee men to control possession and apply some pressure which soon brought about a penalty, which Andy McGrugan duly converted to give Donaghadee a 3-0 lead. Soon handling errors led to a midfield scrum which allowed the front row of Robin McMurray, Blair Savage and Phil Collins to set up a solid platform for Paul Blewitt and the Dee backs to attack from, which they duly did with great skill, and a fantastic backs movement set up Andy Cash for the first try of the game straight off first phase ball. Soon the Dee started to apply more pressure and take control of the game and some fantastic running and continuity play from second row Matthew Johnston and Ian Martindale up the left wing set up the opportunity for Andrew Mitchell to crash over and take the score to 17-0 at half time.

In the second half the Ballyclare men came out strongly in an attempt to get back into the game, but sound defensive work by the back row of Roberts, Mitchell and Cullen along with Kirkpatrick and Martindale’s effort in the centres meant Ballyclare struggled to make any impact to the scoreboard, and soon the Dee were scoring again, this time through Johnston, after Mitchell made a fantastic tackle off the back of a scrum leading to a turnover and strong counter attack with Donaghadee capitalising on the scrambling Ballyclare defence to score in the corner. Now Donaghadee had a strong hold on the game and soon grabbed another try, this time Kirkpatrick making the line break in the centres and picking a good pass to find Roberts who finished under the posts. Soon Donaghadee were back in the opposition 22 again, this time with a scrum and a strong platform from the pack allowed Paul Blewitt to set up Martindale whose strong running allowed him to beat several defenders and score under the posts again. The final try was the icing on the cake as Andy Cash picked up a loose ball and made a 60 metre run, beating all of the Ballyclare defence to score.

This left the final score at 42-0 to the Donaghadee, which could have been more if conditions had not been so poor and McGrugan had had more luck with the boot. Although Ballyclare did apply some late pressure in an attempt to grab a consolation try outstanding defensive work from all fifteen of the Dee men meant they managed to hold out and secure a clean sheet, which satisfied the team, coaching staff and onlookers immensely.

A great deal of credit must go to Andy Monson and Stuart Williamson who stepped up from the Threes. Strong performances from Johnston, Mitchell, Roberts and Cullen in the pack and Cash, Kirkpatrick and Martindale in the backs, with Blewitt orchestrating it all made all the difference for Donaghadee as they chalked up another victory and continue compete strongly for honours in both league and cup.


After several weeks of no rugby for the 3’s it was a trip to Magherafelt in the first round of the McCambley Cup that provided the welcome return to action.

With all three teams in action on the same day a massive effort was needed to get players on the pitch and Andy Monson successfully managed to get a team … only for plans to change (as they have a habit of doing) at the last minute. Injuries throughout the club and availability for a variety of reasons meant that the 3’s arrived at Hatrick Park with the 15 players and no subs. Not an ideal situation compounded with the requirement for a number of players to take to the field out of their accustomed positions.

The Dee kicked off the first half in dry bright and cold conditions and the game stayed tight. Both teams were keen to run the ball but defences held firm with some strong tackling across the park. Within the first 10 minutes it was clear that the referee had his own unique interpretation of many of the rules of the game – not least how to be off your feet at a ruck. It appeared that you could only be off your feet if you were wearing red and green ! The Dee men were constantly penalised for infringements and from one of these Rainey managed to slot a 3 pointer after the game had remained scoreless for 30 minutes.

Almost immediately the Dee hit back with some great forward play moving the ball up field from the kick off. Strong running from Mark Poole, Lee Munroe and Brian McCracken took the ball up to the 22 however Rainey’s defence pushed them men in red and green back almost to the half way line. More forward ball was gained through centres Phil Weston and Davy McMinn and from a ruck just in front of the 10m line scrum half Alex Wallace popped the ball to No. 10 Phil Eagor who lined up a superb drop goal which floated gracefully through the posts.

Just before half time the referee finally decided that he had had enough of the “infringements” and yellow carded No. 8 Ozzie Gordon. This left the Dee with an uphill battle playing not only up the hill in the second half but with a man down for the first 10 or so minute.

Right at the death of the first half Rainey made use of the extra man scoring a try through an overlap in the corner. The conversion was missed giving a score of 8-3 to the home side at the break.

After the tight low scoring first half, the second half was a complete change. Rainey made good use of the extra man and scored a couple of quick tries. The Dee didn’t drop their heads and a break in midfield by Alex Wallace and continued by Rab Martin and Andy Molyneaux took the ball almost to the try line. There was clear space on the wing with 4 Dee backs shouting for the ball for string rucking and tackling from the Rainey team prevented the ball being passed out wide and a try went unscored.

Ozzie returned to the pitch after his enforced rest but after another 5 minutes on the pitch was forced to leave again due to a recurrence of an injury suffered in the first half. No subs available meant that the rest of the match was played by the Dee one man down.

The lack of subs, players out of position and tiredness creeping in finally hit home in the second half with Rainey running in a number of scores as gaps opened up in the Dee defence.

All in all a tough match but it was great to see three teams out at once for the Dee. The players that took to the field gave everything during the match and will look forward to the rest of the season.

Don’t forget to come down to Donaldson Park at 7:30 on a Thursday night for social touch, everyone’s welcome.


Testament to the huge effort from all involved at Donaghadee last Saturday when the Club managed to put out three adult male sides on the one day – especially given that two of these matches were away from home and the fact that were a significant number of injuries and unavailabilities to contend with. Congratulations then to Director of Rugby Chris Good, Coaches – Paul McKenzie & John West, 1st XV Captain Alastair Lockhart and 2nd XV Captain Stephen Cullen but most especially to 3rd XV Captain / Manager Andy Monson (& his aides de camps) who have reinvigorated 3rd XV / Minor rugby at the Club this season gathering together a large and enthusiastic band of social players who are thoroughly enjoying their rugby. A disappointing result in Saturday but the 3rd XV now look forward to the McCambley Plate and the rest of their league season. Keep ‘er lit lads!!


As noted above the 1st XV have no game this incoming Saturday but the spotlight returns to the 2nd XV who welcome Ballymena 4th XV to Donaldson Park in a Junior 4 league game. The 3rd XV will make the short trip to Uprichard Park where they will play Bangor 3rd XV in a Minor League game. Both matches kick off at the usual time of 2:30pm.


The Club were absolutely delighted to hear the news over the weekend that Max Montgomery has been selected in the Cambridge University squad which will oppose Oxford University in the 133rd Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday 11th December 2014 at 2:30pm. Max, along with schoolmates Matthew Stockton and Michael Blair, joined Donaghadee RFC on leaving Bangor Grammar School in the summer of 2013. Max, Matthew and Michael have all become integral members of Donaghadee’s 1st XV squad to varying degrees with Max starting in the Towns Cup Final last April and Matthew on the bench but, unfortunately, Michael’s involvement was restricted to that of supporter after sustaining a serious knee injury earlier in the season. Although he predominantly plays in the back row for Donaghadee Max will wear the No. 16 jersey on Thursday reprising the hooking role which he fulfilled in schools age grade representative rugby and, given the nature of the modern game, is very likely to win his first Blue during the course of the match. Max’s availability for Donaghadee has been severely restricted this season due to his involvement with the senior University side for who he has started at hooker in many of the warm-up games leading to the main event at Twickenham this Thursday. The President, Officers, Club Council, team mates, members and supporters of Donaghadee RFC wish Max every success at RFU HQ and we look forward to welcoming what we believe would be the Club’s first Oxbridge Blue back to Donaldson Park in a few weeks time……. see more at :-


Christmas Casino Night at Donaghadee Golf Club kicks off the festive season at Dee RFC this Saturday and more details will appear here in respect of what is happening around the Club in the holiday period over the next couple of weeks. One thing that does need a bit of notice, however, is the 1st XV Q1 league game home to Ballymoney on Saturday 20th December 2014 when the Pre-Match Lunch will be of a seasonal nature and, since demand will be high, all are urged to contact Ian Fleming as soon as possible to book your place. Catering will be by the excellent Bow Belles and cost will be £10per head for a two course lunch.

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