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Carrickfegus v Grosvenor
PRO Eddie Lloyd has been pleased with the response from the Carrick players after back to back defeats against Omagh and Donaghadee. They travelled to Enniskillen and came away with a convincing 20 -3 win. The team are looking to maintain their pursuit of leaders Omagh until it is matmatically impossible for them to overtake the Tyrone side. Expect another strong performance against a struggling Grosvenor team. When these two sides met at Belmont in October, Grosvenor recorded a surprising 14 – 0 win. Carrick will be looking to reverse this result.
Coleraine v UUC
Another North coast derby between these two teams. Form counts for nothing when thes two sides meet. Coleraine have won their last three league games and are looking a strong finish to the season. The students remain without a win this season. Coleraine PRO Milne Rowntree believes the team are starting to play to their potential over last couple of weeks with a settled team. When these two sides met at the Riverside in November, Coleraine won 28 – 19. A fixture that is sure to attract a large crowd.
Holywood v Enniskillen
Two defeats against Randalstown and Omagh where the Holywood team conceded over 80 points in each game does not give one much hope that coach Laurence Kelly can keep his team in Q 2. They are targeting this match in the knowledge that they need to win 2/3 games to stay up. Enniskillen are reeling on the back of four consecutive defeats. Head coach Norman Richmond is looking a reponse from his players this weekend. He has been unhappy with the leadership and composure within the team which has led to sub standard performances on match day. These areas he feels need to be addressed – otherwise the excellent first half to the season will be wasted. He is looking the team to finish the season on a high. Holywood will be missing influential scrum half Rory Eves. Enniskillen will have Nick Finlay returning at out half. They have six matches remaining with five matches against teams below them. The Skins team are anxious to finish in the top half. When these two teams met at Mullaghmeen in November, Enniskillen ran out comfortable 57 – 3 winners.
Lisburn v Randalstown
Coach Mark Crothers knows his team need to start picking up league points with Holywood hot on their heels. Encouraging performances away to Academy and Coleraine have given the players the belief they can avoid being caught up in the bottom two places. Anxious time for the coach and players. Saturday will be another difficult day against an inform Randalstown team. Coaches Gary Longwell and Alastair Strange will be expecting a strong finish to the season by their players.
Omagh v Academy
Fourteen tries in their emphatic 82 – 0 win over Holywood last Sat was not the preparation coach Phil Marshall was looking for before they face an inform Acadeny side. Omagh have a seven point advantage having played one game less than second place Carrickfergus. With five matches left against teams including Academy, Coleraine, UUC, Randalstown and Carrickfegus the coach and his Captain Mark Smyth cannot afford any slip ups. Academy have a semi final of the McCrea Cup against Cooke the following week and will present a stiff challenge for the Tyrone team. Should be an interesting contest at the Thomas Mellon playing fields.
Fixtures. Sat. 7.3.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Carrickfergus ( 2) v Grosvenor (7)
Coleraine (4) v UUC (10)
Holywood (9) v Enniskillen(6)
Lisburn (8) v Randalstown (5)
Omagh (1) v Academy (3)
Ballyclare v Clogher Valley
After halting a losing run, Ballyclare have been boosted by consecutive wins over Ballymoney and instonians. They remain in contention to finish in fourth place and qualify for the AIL Junior Cup after securing promotion to Q 1 this season. The faithful will want to see their players go out with a win in their last home game against second place Clogher Valley. Clogher Valley are faced with their fifth match in fourteen days as they continue their pursuit of leaders Instonians. Such is the impact of injuries on their squad, the coaches Glen Kyle and Davy Black are struggling to put out seventeen players for this crucial trip to the Cloughan. Injuries rule out Ryan and BJ Wilson along with their influential back row forward David Sharkey. Doubts remain over backs PC Falconer and Jack Stott. Long term injuries rule out David Dunlop, Matty Robinson and Jonny Clarke for the remainder of the season. With a Towns Cup semi final at Ballymena on Saturday week the toll of having played 25 matches already appears to be catching up with the Fivemiletown team. When these two sides met at the Cran in December Clogher ran out comfortable winners 27 – 0.
Bangor v CIYMS
Two teams who performed so well in the All Ireland Junior Cup. Yet their performances have slipped in the league as they exited the Towns and McCrea Cups. Was it a case the players had put so much into the All Ireland Junior Cup they have struggled to maintain those levels. Bangor need one more point to secure a place in the All Ireland Junior Cup next season. CIYMS were expected to be challenging for a top four finish. Now they are engaged in a battle with Donaghadee to avoid finishing second bottom and possible relegation. Both teams have under performed in the league with Bangor winning two and losing two of their last four league games with CIYMS losing all four of their league games. Not the form we expected from a team that was expected to challenge for league honours. With Bangor resting several key players for the mid week trip to Clogher Valley where they lost 27 -8. Expect coaches Rupert Preston and Jason Morgan along with Captain Jamie Clegg to send the faithful away from Upritchard Park with a convincing win in their last home game. CIYMS need points. Coaches Gareth Fry, John Anderson and Davy Scott will want to halt this run of defeats. They then face two matches against Dromore who are coached by their former coach Graham Cloke. What drama that will provide with Dromore needing wins to finish in the top four. CIYMS were disappointing in their 27 – 0 home defeat against Portadown last Sat. When these two sides met at Belmont in December, Bangor ran out 22 – 21 winners.
Donaghadee v Dromore
This is what Q 1 is all about. Every fixture is so important in these concluding weeks. As Dee player coach Paul McKenzie was saying, ” His team need two massive performances and hope results go their way to retain their Q 1 status”. Their opponents Dromore are chasing a top four finish. What an atmosphere we will have at Donaldson Park on Sat as the home supporters get behind their team. With a Towns Cup semi final comimg up against Ballynahinch seconds next week there is so much at stake for coaches Paul McKenzie and John West with both the clubs seconds and thrids making the semi finals of their Cups. A remarkable achievement for this club. Dee will welcome back influential forward Richard Martindale and centre Adam Alexander for this crucial game. Dromore are at full strength with key back row forwards Robert Greer and Adam McGregor starting. Their dangerman is the influential half back Lee Steenson.
This should be a cracking contest with spectators following closely the events at nearby Upritchard Park between Bangor and CIYMS. When these two sides met at Barben Hill, Dromore ran out comfortable 27 – 7 winners.
Instonians v Ballymoney
Despite a hiccup at Ballyclare two weeks ago, Inst got back to winning ways at home to Donaghadee last sat winning 27 – 7. Coach William Leacock is taking it one game at a time with three matches reamining. A win at home to struggling Ballymoney will leave his side to defeat Dromore next Wed night to secure the league if Clogher Valley slip up at Ballyclare on Sat. His players are expecting a tough game with a proud Ballymoney side who are staring relegation to Q 2. Coach Jason Taggart will expect nothing less than 100% from his players who pushed Inst all the way before losing 13 – 0 in December. They pushed Ballyclare all the way before losing 13 – 10 at home last Sat. Inst coaches William Leacock, Keith Crossan and Mark McDowell will not want their players to slip up with the prize of winning the league within their grasp.
Portadown v Cooke
Coach Richard Hedley has been relieved to see his team ending their losing league run to secure back to back wins over Dromore and CIYMS. Along with Ballyclare and Dromore they are chasing that elusive fourth place. They need maximum points from their remaining two home games with Cooke and Ballyclare to give themselves a chance of finishing in fourth place. Prop Ryan Muldrew suffered a fractured bone in his shoulder against CIYMS and is replaced by Jordan Elliott. With the unavailability of Andrew Chambers in the backs , Olly Montels steps in. The Portadown backrow were impressive last sat with Diarmuid O’Kane and James Carleton scoring three tries between them. Cooke player/coach Colin Atkinson was disappointed his side did not pick up a losing bonus point in their 17 – 7 defeat at Clogher Valley last Sat. He was pleased by the effort the players put in. He is awaiting fitness tests on backs Philip Cartmill and Andrew Hanna for the trip to Portadown. Liam Bennett rejoins the squad after being out long term with an injury. When these two sides met at Shawsbridge in Dec, Portadown ran out 19 – 8 winners.
Fixtures. Sat. 7.3.15. kick off 2.30pm
Ballyclare (4) v Clogher Valley (2)
Bangor (3) v CIYMS (8)
Donaghadee (9) v Dromore (5)
Instonians (1) v Ballymoney (10)
Portadown (6) v Cooke (7)
Fixtures. Sat. 7.3.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Clontarf (3) v Dolphin (10)
Landsdowne (1) v Cork Constitution (5)
Old Belvedere (9) v Ballynahinch (4)
Terenure College (2) v St Mary’s College (7)
UCD (6) v Young Munster (8)
Fixtures. Sat. 7.3.15. kick off 2.30pm
Banbridge (4) v Bective Rangers (16)
Cashel RFC (5) v City of Derry (10)
Dungannon (15) v NUIM Barnhall (7)
Naas (8) v Old Wesley (1)
Nenagh ormond (11) v Skerries (3)
Queens Uni (6) v Blackrock College (2)
Thomond (9) v Rainey OB (13)
UCC (12) v Seapoint (14)
Fixtures. Sat 7.3.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Navan (12) v Boyne (15)
Sunday’s Well (6) v Midleton (4)
Wanderers (9) v DLSP (14)
Bruff (7) v Kanturk (8)
Old Crescent (10) v Greystones (3)
Richmond (13) v Highfield (1)
Sligo (11) v Armagh (5)
Tullamore (2) v Ards (16)
by George Millar