BALLYCLARE 15 DONAGHADEE 36
The Donaghadee RFC 1st XV team that gained promotion to Ulster Branch IRFU Qualifying League One on Saturday 23 April 2011 at Ballyclare.
Back Row: Niall Moraghan (Physio), Richard Martindale, Paul Hamilton, Ian Martindale, Richard Millar, Chris Hamilton, David Thompson, Nigel Barker, Andrew Findlater, Alistair Lockhart, Jimmy McCoy (coach), Bill Boomer (President), Peter Matthews (Manager).
Front Row: Billy Allen, Bobby Harpur, Paul Blewitt, Stuart Hutchinson, Chris Schofield, Chris Good (c), Gareth Gordon, Andy Monson.
Thanks to the long cold winter break, this past season’s Ulster Branch Qualifying League Two is coming to a busy, but riveting, conclusion. On Saturday 23rd April Donaghadee’s First XV went to Ballyclare knowing that a bonus point, even in a defeat, would guarantee them promotion to Section One for next season;
the home side equally knew that a bonus win for them might secure promotion to Section One and also League leaders CIYMS were also well aware that a bonus win for Donaghadee would be setting up a huge contest at Deramore on Easter Tuesday (26th April) that might decide who would be the undisputed winners of this hard-fought league.
The early phases of the game were evenly contested with the only score being a penalty goal to the Dee, until suddenly, in a five-minute burst, Ballyclare constructed and executed two well taken three-quarter-line tries. The first was a line break by Jackson on half way that put Baird in, and almost immediately Jonny Reid ran clear for an easy run in to score in the corner that saw them leading 12-3. This was the gauntlet well and truly thrown down, but the question was – could Donaghadee respond?
As so often this season, the initial Donaghadee response came from the pack. This well-drilled mix of experienced forwards to front and rear plus youthful exuberance across the second-row four simply bruised their way inexorably towards their opponents’ line. Richard Martindale took Gareth Gordon’s perfect line-out throw at about five metres high and the Donaghadee eight went instantly into rolling maul mode. The only flaw in their final delivery was that Davy Thompson’s crash over was right out on the touchline, so it was only five points for Donaghadee, but a better-looking tally now for them of 8-12 down.
More importantly the Dee men now knew that they had the beating of their opponents. Mid-field play was also demonstrating that the re-jigged Donaghadee backline for this game had now sorted themselves out and any earlier gaps in defence were now shut. A successful penalty to Ballyclare gave the home players some heart at 15-8, but the huge crowd of travelling Donaghadee supporters were now in good heart; the signs that their favourites were now in command were pretty clear.
From about half-way two great incursions by Chris Hamilton and Stuart Hutchinson were supported so enthusiastically that a try under the posts looked certain. Ballyclare certainly thought so and the ball was illegally killed in front of their posts. After a suitable reprimand and warning from the referee Andy Monson duly took the offered three points for 15-11. Then just before half-time the red and green machine charged forward again with their intent crystal clear. The hard-driving Donaghadee pack released Andrew Findlater with some yards to go, and he crashed over for the important 16-15 Donaghadee lead that gave them any encouragement they might have needed going into the break.
Donaghadee began the second half with a determination that was almost palpable. Full-back Billy Allen came into the line and scythed about fifty metres before being pulled down and Gareth Gordon added an extra flourish that looked dangerous for the Ballyclare cause. Donaghadee’s two front row Chrises – Good and Schofield – showed their strength and experience with driving runs that sapped their opponents’ strength, and Paul Hamilton was always there with some extra drive when the big props were finally halted. Ballyclare were valiant in defence, but now looked to have lost their earlier spark in the stress of battle. All present were well aware that another Donaghadee score was inevitable.
When it came it was certainly a team effort, but the final flourish came from Donaghadee’s big winger Findlater who drove over for 21-15. Almost immediately Donaghadee came right back into the home side’s red zone. In their desperation a Ballyclare centre dived on the ball in front of his posts. This gave a welcome extra three points to Donaghadee for 24-15, but also deprived Ballyclare of a man for ten crucial minutes.
Ballyclare, to their great credit, came back at Donaghadee, but in mid-field, centres Bobby Harpur and Ian Martindale were resolute and crushing. When Donaghadee regained possession, each time they used their dangerous backs to clear the ball and gain territory. One classy run made about eighty metres with some lovely running and passing that was only stopped close to the Ballyclare line when the high-stepping Richard Millar was finally forced into touch close to his target goal-line. Almost instantly Donaghadee’s backs had another opportunity when the ball was shipped quickly to Ian Martindale. Happily restored after a difficult injury, Martindale showed that he is now back big-style when he took total responsibility and crashed over for what might be called a trademark Martindale try, and crucially Donaghadee’s bonus-point fourth. Monson’s accurate conversion made the score a virtually unassailable 31-15 to Donaghadee, but there was to be a finale almost immediately.
Ballyclare’s spirits were understandably down by now, and Donaghadee’s players were on a high with the knowledge that all their hard work this season was being rewarded. A perfect scrum gave Monson a perfect opportunity to feed his outside-half Nigel Barker who crossed unimpeded for the clinching try and 36-15 as the final score.
This display of strength, skill and character by Donaghadee was a tribute to every one of the fifteen men who played. It was also total vindication of the hard work and inspiration of Club Coach Jimmy McCoy and his Assistant Coach Andy Monson. The currently recovering players on the touchline at the game went through worse agonies than the on-field players, but they and all the other guys who played their parts during the season can all share any credit that is going. Rugby football is no longer a fifteen-player team game; nowadays a fit and skilful squad of 25 is a basic minimum, and about 35 or 40 more realistic. Fortunately Donaghadee has such a squad of capable players (See below).
Some of the players and coaches asked after the game that some sincere words of thanks from them be passed on to the army of supporters who made the journey into County Antrim on the day, not to mention the longer trips to places like Coleraine, Enniskillen and Omagh during the season. Spectators do get great satisfaction at games, but they also help the players with their vocal support.
DONAGHADEE SECONDS 37 – LIMAVADY SECONDS 12
CLICK HERE FOR 50+ Pictures From Thelma Morrow
An excellent sunny day for DRFC was completed by a comprehensive win by the Second XV at Donaldson Park. On the day the club’s Firsts were gaining promotion this young side came of age. They really know now that all of them are important cogs in the Donaghadee rugby machine. Kyle Morrow, who had taken over the captaincy for the later part of the season due to injury to the club stalwart Andrew Dunn, led his troops with great aplomb throughout the game.
The first half was full of running rugby with Chris Woods scoring an interception try early on
from his own 22. Mark Cooper was in mercurial form with the boot all day converting the Woods try and extending the Donaghadee lead with a penalty from just inside the opposition’s half. To Limavady’s credit they bounced back strongly, scoring a converted try which gave their colourful travelling support something to cheer about. However this applause was short lived as the Dee side responded immediately with a well worked back line move leading to Ryan Irvine going in for the first of his brace of tries, leaving the home side in a strong position at half time 15 – 7.
The second half started with a determined home pack quickly gaining the upper hand on their rivals; the pressure finally telling with a tiring Limavady defence opening up to a fabulous solo effort from Ryan Irvine who scored from the half way line. Cooper added insult to injury by converting the try and then adding a penalty as the visitors’ pack strayed offside at the ruck. Once again Limavady rallied with a 10 minute siege on the Dee line, and this resulted in a converted try as some compensation. The game ended with the home team totally in charge as the young side showed their superior fitness levels and the 2nd XV try scoring machine Andrew Cash wasn’t going to miss out scoring the final try of the season ably supported by Ryan Irvine. Cash’s tally of 13 tries for the year has been noticed throughout the club. It is deserved reward for his determined hard running throughout the year.
Team Manager Ian Fleming and the players would like to thank Nicola Todd, the team physio, for her help and support throughout the year and wish her all the best in her new post next year. A special note of thanks has to go to the fabulous travelling support of Limavady who made the end of season celebrations a night to remember at Donaldson Park Clubhouse.
Donaghadee Team: Ryan Irvine, Marcus Gibson, Chris Woods, Chris McGivern, Andrew Cash, Mark Cooper, Nick Lord; Adam Torrens, Phil McCaughey, Richard Gullen, Phil Collins, Andrew Dunn, Gavin Wallace, Craig McCoy and Kyle Morrow (c).
Important Upcoming Events
Don’t forget Thursday 12th May is the Donaghadee club’s AGM, (all nominations for Council posts and team captains should now have been submitted).
All interested readers must be well aware that the Donaghadee club has been proudly celebrating the great men of 1885 who founded the historic club, and those who have carried the flag ever since. It is a matter of great pride that this has co-incided with success on the playing field too with both Second and Third XVs having had excellent seasons, and of course with the club’s senior side gaining promotion to Ulster’s Qualifying League Section on 23rd April, and at time of writing the last named team is preparing to end their great season with a victory over CIYMS at Deramore on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm that could clinch this wonderful season with the league title if they win and CI lose the following Saturday at Enniskillen.
Whatever the results the Club Dinner should be really special this year. It will be held on Friday evening 20th May. Any and all who want to be part of this celebration affair should contact Hans Arthur at Grace Neill’s for table reservations –don’t delay.