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Fantastic Weekend for Virginia RFC


Virginia Girls Win Ulster Under 18 League with 100% Record

On Sunday last Virginia girls welcomed Monaghan to Deerpark for their last league match of the season.  Although they already had the league title under their belt, they certainly finished out the league in style maintaining their unbeaten record to the very end.

The wet pitch left the ball greasy, and from the outset resulted in a lot of handling errors from both sides.  Following the starting whistle the Virginia girls were determined not to let the visitors breach their line, and kept them pinned in their twenty two for the first ten minutes of the game, with Sara Whitley eventually crossing over the try line for the first score of the match. A second try followed from Keelin Brady, and by half time Amanda McQuade and Leah Gregory had added one each, leaving the half time score at 20-0.

The second half kicked off in the same vein, and seen the Megan Higgins crash over following some excellent rucking from the home team.  Sara Whitley added her second and just before the full time whistle Sorcha Fitzsimons scored a well placed try which was readily converted by Amanda.  To their credit the visitors never gave up and fought right to the end of the match, and many thanks to the Monaghan girls for travelling.  The final score of 37-0 secured Virginia’s unbeaten record in the league and now sees the girls move their focus to the Cup.

Towy Neale, secretary of the Ulster Youth committee presented the girls with their league medals at the end of the match, and many thanks to him for making the journey to Virginia.


Virginia U18s Reach Ulster League Final


On Saturday 4th of March Virginia U18 travelled to Magherafelt County Derry to take on hosts Rainey Old Boys R.F.C.  Having played often against each other throughout the age groups both teams knew each other well. As a result, there was no round of observation and both teams went hard at it from the off.


Rainey open the score after 5 minutes following an offside from Virginia defence. The visitors responded a minute later with a penalty of their own leaving a parity score of 3-3 in the opening quarter.

On the 17th minute Rainey exploited a turn-over ball sending their big prop on a powerful run deep into Virginia’s territory. Few phases later Virginia were pinned on their line defending it tooth and nails, phase after phase. Rainey finally found a gap for one of their big forward to cross the line from close range. The conversion was scored and the hosts were leading 10-3.

The remainder of the half saw Virginia holding on to the ball for long phases but they could not break Rainey’s aggressive defence.

However, on the stroke of half time, Virginia were awarded a penalty following an off-side position from Rainey. No time to kick, so Virginia ran it… Prop Niall Preston took off and spun in the tackle allowing Virginia to break the gain line, when he was eventually brought to ground good clearing by Luke Sherriff and Samuel Ajetunmobi provided a quick ball to the back line. Rainey’s defence wasn’t allowed the usual time to get organised and when scrum half Sean Warren sent the play open side, centre ball Charlie Reilly out-flanked the rushing defenders with ease. Virginia were left with a 3 versus 1 situation to negotiate and Rainey were scrambling.

Reilly fixed his defender to put full-back John Cooke into space. Cooke fixed a covering defender and passed to Gareth Mannion. Mannion was pressed by two defenders towards the touch line but managed to squeeze an inside pass to oncoming centre Nathan McQuade. McQuade ran unopposed from 10 metres out to score. A quality try from the back line! The difficult conversion was missed but Virginia had narrowed the gap to 2 points just at half time. 10-8.


The score boosted Virginia confidence and they went into the break reinvigorated. The Cavan lads grabbed the second half with both hands and were on the front foot. They were holding on to the ball for long passages of play but couldn’t break the opposition defence.

Rainey had few occasions of their own to increase their advance but handling errors at crucial times impaired their efforts. The score board wasn’t moving but both teams were engaged in a ferocious battle for territory and possession. Virginia introduced fresh legs in the pack, Gerry “the machine” Flynn came on for 2nd Row Conor Cahill. The Denn man having delivered an impressive shift in the first half was showing signs of fatigue. Daragh O’Leary moved into the engine room, Flynn positioning himself at flanker. As the game went on, the heavy ground didn’t favour Rainey’s bigger players and they were tiring. That was the moment Virginia picked to strike for 2 tries in quick succession.

From a scrum on the left hand-side of the pitch, Virginia launched a first-hand attack. Fly-half Adrian Rogers took the ball, a decoy run by Charlie Reilly opened a gap in Rainey’s defence. Rogers held the pass nicely to send centre Nathan McQuade at full pace through the gap, slicing Rainey’s defense beautifully. McQuade drew his defender, pass to full-back John Cooke, Cooke did the same and passes to winger Connor McHugh. McHugh didn’t let the chance pass, he still had 25 metres to cover but he took off along the touch line to score in the corner.  A nice try straight from the training ground that will delight Virginia’s backs coach Sam Timmins. The tough conversion was missed, but Virginia took the lead 13-8.

Rainey re-gathered their own restart but were turned over immediately, prop Owen Doyle ripped the ball of Rainey’s player and following a quick relay by Rory Smith, 2nd row Samuel Ajetunmobi rushed through a gap in the defence. The big lad thundered down the pitch in his characteristic gangly long stride only to be caught 15 metres from the line. Support was at hand to keep the ball alive, and following few “pick and go” Rainey were defending their line. Virginia scrum-half Sean Warren took control from then on, guiding his forwards right and left. Rainey’s defence was starting to get tired and disorganised. Warren picked Daragh O’Leary coming at pace close to the ruck. The flanker showed good footwork to avoid the first two defenders. He had gathered momentum at that stage and crossed the line dragging the last tackler with him. The conversion was scored giving Virginia a 10 points cushion. 20-10. Virginia were cruising!

Possession was swapping hands between both teams for the remainder of the half. Virginia were happy to contain Rainey’s attack knowing that the clock was ticking. Rainey were rushing their play and could not conclude their good intentions due to too many unforced errors.

Then with 5 minutes left Rainey were handed a life line out of nothing. Virginia were defending well on the right hand-side of the pitch but all of a sudden, they switched off…Rainey’s centre started a run, evading the first tackle and 32 missed tackles later Rainey were under the post, they dropped kicked the conversion. 20-17!

That was to be a nerve racking 5 minutes! Virginia held on but were penalised with 2 minutes left for hands in the ruck. Rainey oddly opted for the kick to draw the game. That would have meant that with 3 tries Virginia would go through. The kicked was missed. From the long restart, Rainey’s winger could not control the ball and knocked on. The referee called last play to Virginia supporters delight! The scrum was set and the ball secured.

Scrum-half Sean warren picked up the ball at the base of the scrum, stumbled trying to kick it and “accidently” threw the ball in touch according to his father! The referee awarded Rainey a penalty! With no time left, Rainey tapped and went but knocked the ball on shortly after following a good tackle by flanker Gerry Flynn. What a relief for Virginia supporters, coaches and player… particularly Sean Warren!


A league final! The players couldn’t have presented the team official photographer Marianne Cahill with a nicer present!

The U18 will now join the club’s U16 and U14 in Cookstown’s Mid Ulster arena on Saturday 11th of March for the Ulster league finals. The other semi-final between Armagh and Belfast Metropolitan College had to be postponed due to waterlogged pitches and will now be played on Wednesday night. Only then will Virginia know who their opponents will be.

Please come and support the lads on Saturday 11th of March, Mid Ulster arena 1.30pm kick-off.


VRFC: Nial Preston; Luke Sheriff; Owen Doyle; Conor Cahill; Samuel Ajetunmobi; Steven Ryan; Daragh O’Leary; Rory Smith; Sean Warren; Adrian Rogers; Connor McHugh; Charlie Reilly; Nathan McQuade; Gareth Mannion; John Cooke; Tommaso Frausin; Christopher McDonnell; Gerry Flynn, Anthony Moore; Keelan Sheridan.



U16s Squeeze Through to Ulster League Final

Virginia RFC U16s travelled together with the U18s to Magherafelt in Co. Derry last Saturday as both sides took on Rainey Old Boys RFC in the semi-finals of the Ulster League Play-Offs. After a wet few days previously, their match was transferred onto the 4G pitch at the Meadowbank Sports Arena, but despite a few showers through the morning they played in good conditions.

Virginia knew they would be in for a tough encounter, with both teams going into the match unbeaten so far during the season, and so it was to prove.  Virginia initially took the game to the hosts, again with half backs Jason Henderson and Adam Charters spreading the ball wide at every opportunity, but with an early penalty chance missed Rainey absorbed the pressure well. The home side’s backline was excellent going forward, and Virginia did well to contain them despite some line breaks. The dam finally broke though when an intercept after a line out allowed Rainey in for a converted try, and a 7-0 lead. As they’ve proved before this season there is plenty of belief and determination in the Virginia side, and back they came at Rainey. The set piece was again a real plus for Virginia. Parity was gained in the lineout, but again their scrum was dominant with Jamie Osbourne and Aaron Hawthorne giving a powerful performance in the front row. Possession wasn’t an issue, but despite the usual clever and hard running from Mark Gilsenan, Niall Carolan, and Aaron Mannion they couldn’t unlock the Rainey defence, with the backs proving just as adept in defence as they were in attack. A change of tactics was needed, and the forwards started to crash the Rainey lines up the middle of the park, with Evan Charters and Adrian Lynch making good ground, aided by great work in the loose from Luke Brodie and Robert Lochaden. The pressure finally told, and Jamie Davidson touched down out wide to bring Virginia back into the game just before the break, meaning they went in at half time just 7-5 down.

With this changed focus Michael McKeown-Boyle was introduced after the break, and his extra power at the breakdown allowed Virginia to maintain the momentum. Virginia turned down a kickable penalty opportunity which would have given them the lead, as they felt they could get more. The forwards were making the hard yards, but great hands from the backs allowed Martin O’Connell over in the corner, his conversion giving the visitors a five point lead. The next score was vital, and Virginia thought they had it. The two flankers, Cai Walker and Rioghan Smith, who had both been immense throughout, combined out wide for Rioghan to get over the line, but he was adjudged to have knocked on when grounding. Another great scrum however at the restart won them a penalty, with Martin cool under pressure slotting it home for a crucial eight point lead. Rainey now knew they on the verge of their league campaign ending, and back they came at Virginia. With five minutes left they crashed over to score again, the conversion making it just a one point game. From the restart they again went wide, and spent the last few minutes crashing in waves at the Virginia defence which held firm under severe pressure. Connor Kennison came on into the pack, and his fresh legs and power forced another scrum turnover, again relieving the pressure. There was to be late drama though. A high tackle gave the hosts a last play penalty opportunity to win the game, the Virginia players relief was evident when they saw it drift wide of the posts, the referee blowing for full time and a famous 15-14 victory.

Next Saturday they travel to the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown to face Malone RFC in the Ulster League Final. For many of these guys it will be the third consecutive year they have made it this far, and they will all be looking to add to their previous victories.

Virginia RFC U16s: Jamie Osbourne, Evan Charters (Cptn), Aaron Hawthorne, Robert Lochaden, Luke Brodie, Cai Walker, Rioghan Smith, Adrian Lynch, Jason Henderson, Adam Charters, Jamie Davidson, Mark Gilsenan, Niall Carolan, Martin O’Connell, Aaron Mannion, Callum Finane, Michael McKeon-Boyle, Connor Kennison, Adam Sherriff, Killian Collins, Paddy Gordon, David Gibney


Virginia RFC U14s Secure 3rd Consecutive League Final Spot
Virginia U14s travelled to Letterkenny for the Ulster League Semi Final on Saturday. After three and a half hours taking in the lovely scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way they arrived to a great sense of community spirit at the host club, with around thirty men on the pitch with garden forks all morning making sure the pitch was in tip top condition after all the rain over recent days. There was a real friendly atmosphere around the whole place, and a great welcome was given.


After a quick warm up it was down to the rugby. Virginia were in at the deep end straight away defending in their own half, with relentless attacking by the host team, who like Virginia were coming into this game unbeaten all season. Their defence held extremely well with each and every team member involved making big tackles and rucking as if their lives depended on it. After ten minutes Virginia were penalised for going off their feet, giving the hosts a kickable penalty chance, which just went wide. However they got another chance a few minutes later and their outhalf made no mistake this time, to give them a 3-0 lead. Virginia had a few chances but couldn’t seem to get their attacking game fully up to speed, and at half time the score remained the same


The second half was another bruising affair, Virginia again having to defend with everything they had. This time they managed to gain more possession, eventually making their way into Letterkenny territory. They showed great patience over the ball, and this approach eventually got them to within 2m of the line. Kieran Duffy made a cheeky pick and go to score in the corner, and Virginia just had their noses in front with a 5-3 lead. Both teams kept up the intensity in attack and defence, and the hosts were awarded a few penalties late in the game, two of which went wide of the posts, and a third was tapped quickly but was ushered into touch by the Virginia defence. The visitors were relieved to hear the final whistle in such a tight game, where after no more scores they won just 5-3.


An amazing 18 wins from 18 games has secured them a place in next week’s Ulster League Final where they will face either City of Armagh RFC or Omagh Academicals RFC. The U14s are looking for an historic “three in a row” after winning the last two U14 League Titles, with many of the these lads involved in last year’s triumph.

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