DONAGHADEE 7 CLOGHER VALLEY 12
This season Donaghadee have been guilty of producing performances of inconsistent levels, but the squad will have gone into Saturday’s fixture against Clogher Valley knowing that only a very good performance was likely to be enough to get anything from this particular fixture.
With a swirling wind to their back and playing down towards the clubhouse corner Donaghadee started the game gaining early territory with a well-placed Paul McKenzie nudge deep into the Clogher 22. This early forage into the opponents half was however short lived and was to be the last attack Dee had before a ten minute period of defending their own line.The defensive effort from the Dee team was disciplined, physical and purposeful and such was its effectiveness both the home side and those on the Donaldson Park touchline appeared to take a degree of confidence from those early defensive efforts.Frustratingly Donagahdee failed to grasp a couple of opportunities to clear their lines effectively and invited repeat pressure on their lines and on the 21st minute the defensive effort did not do enough to stop the Clogher inside centre PC Falconer from bullying his way over the Dee line from close range. The conversion was pushed wide.After this score Donaghadee were able to get a better handle on possession and started asking their own questions of a so far untested Valley defence. Dee back row forward Max Montgomery was consistently getting past the gain line with his darts from the back of the scrum and Adams and Martindale’s first time tackling did not allow Valley to build up any momentum in the middle of the park.
Four minutes before half time McKenzie received the ball just inside his own half and launched a high ball deep into the Valley half. The sheer height of the ball coupled with the swirling wind caused havoc in the Valley defence and as the ball bounced uncollected, the livewire Ryan Irvine pounced, collected and show good pace to run in for Donaghadee’s first points of the day. Mark Cooper was successful with the conversion to give the home side a 7-5 lead. The Dee continued on the front foot for the last period of first half play and were unfortunate to miss an injury time penalty attempt.
The difficult wind calmed for the start of the second period which was to Donaghadee’s favour and the home side started as they finished the first. Unfortunately although the effort and commitment being shown was unquestionable, the conditions were not conducive to expansive back play and all too often play was not getting past third phase due to handling errors.
Although very easy to comment in hindsight, Donaghadee may rue not being more patient in their build up play, keeping the ball within their forward unit who appeared to being getting the better of their Valley counterparts. On the 64th minute a fierce tackle in the middle of the park led to Donaghadee turning over ball in the Valley half and McKenzie probed a useful ball deep into the 22, however Valley were able to clear their lines. After the home sides dominant start to the second half Valley momentum kicked in around the 65 minute mark and after a series of scrums Valley pushed over on the 70th minute for their second try of the day from No. 8 Ryan Wilson and what appeared to be the decisive sucker punch blow. The conversion was kicked successfully by Valley No. 10 Philip Holme to edge the men from Tyrone to a 12-7 lead.
In the last ten minutes the home crowd got further evidence of the fantastic attitude that the Dee men brought to this fixture and for this period Dee did everything other than score that much sought after try that was required due to the 5 point deficit. During these efforts two Clogher Valley players were sin binned – however with the difficult windy conditions returning, energy levels waning and a surprising lack of additional time played – the final climb was one too much for Lockhart’s gallant Dee outfit.
As Junior Rugby continues to attract its plaudits from across the rugby fraternity this match was a fine example of the great competiveness that exists at this level. As Donaghadee fight for places at the wrong end of the table this point may prove useful however I think it’s fair to assume the Dee coaches will be looking to ‘bottle’ the effort shown in this game for their forthcoming fixtures and with a little more structure in their play this relegation fight should remain in their own hands.
This Saturday the 1st XV travel to Shaws Bridge in another crucial Q1 fixture against fellow strugglers Cooke whilst the 2nd XV are also on the road travelling to Carrick to play the local 3rd XV. The 3rd XV keep the home fires burning at Donaldson Park where they come up against Academy 3rd XV. All games kick-off at 2:30pm.
The 2015 Schools Cup has started and it was pleasing for many Donaghadee RFC Club members to witness Regent House’s hard-fought first round victory over Royal School Dungannon last Saturday.
The Club has, and continues to have, a rich association over the years with local schools and most especially Regent and Bangor GS. Current 1st XV Captain Alastair Lockhart and squad members Kyle Morrow, Stephen Adams, Conor Fulton, Mark Cooper, Andrew Findlater, Chris Woods, Thomas Slane, Billy Allen, Ryan Irvine, Adam Alexander, Adam Lowry, Matthew Kane, Adam Torrans, Rhys Thompson, Matthew Johnston, Owen Roberts & Chris Scott (not to mention Rory Garnham & David Murray who are on a “year out” Down Under) are former Regent men whilst 2014 Cambridge Blue Max Montgomery, Michael Blair, Matthew Stockton, Gareth Gordon, Richard Martindale, Chris Hamilton and Paul McKenzie hail from the Bangor school. Things run in cycles and at the moment Regent alumni predominate with between nine and twelve of the starting XVs at both 1st & 2nd level each week having attended the Newtownards school – the 2nd XV as well being captained by an ex-Regent man, Stephen Cullen.
On the coaching front Club Assistant Coach John West, former Club Coach Jimmy McCoy and current CCRO Guy McManus are all helping out at Regent.
From a current Club administration perspective Vice- Chairman Paul Blewitt and Council Members Wesley Martin & Jim Lyttle are former Regent pupils whist President Bill Boomer, Hon. Sec. Peter Matthews and Bertie Bell spent their formative years at Bangor GS. The trend continues in terms of Club referees with Jonny Coyle a Bangor GS man whilst Brian McLawrence was a pupil at Circular Road.
The Club also has current players and administrators who started their rugby playing careers in some of the other well-known schools in Northern Ireland such as RBAI, MCB, Sullivan Upper & CCB as well as a plethora of members from the not so high-profile grammar and high schools throughout the province & beyond.
In these times of education cutbacks it is more important than ever that local rugby clubs support the rugby playing schools that serve their area both from a practical & financial perspective via on field assistance or sponsorship remembering that all of the above schools draw their pupils not only from the towns and cities in which they are located but also from all areas within North Down and the Ards Peninsula (& further afield) and, as such, represent a large part of the future of adult rugby within the Donaghadee RFC Club – as is evidenced by personnel named above.
The Club would therefore urge all Dee men to do whatever they can to support their schools (whoever they may be) and, in so doing, copper-fasten relationships which have served the Club magnificently over the almost 130 years of its existence. In the meantime the Club would like to wish all schools in the area every success in this year’s Schools Cup competition.