Powerade Towns Cup 2nd Round Preview Saturday 25th January 2014 by George Millar

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Down to the last eight ties in the Towns cup this weekend. The two stand out fixtures are the meeting of current holders Ballyclare and All Ireland Junior Cup finalists Clogher Valley at Cloughan and Dromore v current Junior Cup holders Ballynahinch seconds at Barban Hill in an appetising County Down derby.

Donaghadee v Enniskillen

Sat the 20th February 2010 is a date the Dee faithful haven’t forgotten. This was the meeting of the Dee and Enniskillen in the Quarter Final of the Towns Cup at Donaldson Park. The Dee appeared to be on their way to the semi final draw leading 14 – 10 with the whistle on the blow when Skins full back Mark O’Shea scored that dramatic try for the Fermanagh side to win 17 – 10. At its conclusion there was the contrasting silence of the home supporters matched by the jubilation amongst the visiting Enniskillen supporters. What drama. This is what the Towns Cup is all about. In 2010 Donaghadee were a Qualifying Two side with Skins playing in Qual One. The roles are now reversed with Dee in Q 1 and Skins in Q 2. The Dee are currently sitting in nineth place in Q 1 and Skins seventh in Q 2. For Skins Captain Ricky Connor’s and his half back partner Alan Wilkinson this game will bring back happy memories when they visit Donaldson Park on Sat. The Dee team has changed and for the current side that includes members of that 2010 side Billy Allen, Rory Garnham, Paul Blewitt, Gareth Gordon, Chris Good, Chris Hamilton and Richard Martindale there is the opportunity to reverse that result. On paper the Dee should be favourites to win this game. Cup games are all about how you perform on the day. Should be an interesting day for both sets of coaches; Dee’s Paul McKenzie and Stuart Hennessey and Skins Alastair McKee. The battle between the two scrum halves and Captains; Skins Ricky Connor’s and Alastair Lockhart will set the tone for this game. Dee to win

Ballyclare v Clogher Valley

Two Cups, two home draws for Ballyclare in each. Only it happens to be All Ireland Junior Cup finalists and current Q 1 league leaders Clogher Valley drawn up against Q 2 league leaders Ballyclare on each occasion. When the two sides met in the Quarter Final of the Junior Cup in Nov, Ballyclare won 8 – 6 and went on to suffer their only league and Cup defeat this season in the final to the All conquering Ballynahinch seconds. The White Hare side remain undefeated against all Q 1 sides in two seasons. Who is going to win this tie. Having watched CV defeat Portadown convincingly last Sat despite the scoreline of 19 – 10 you question whether Ballyclare can do the double over the best club side in Qualifying rugby in Ulster. When you have 36 players turn up to training last Tues and you have 27 players appear on Boxing Day morning you can see why the Fivemiletown club have been so successful in Ulster. Despite having an All Ireland Junior Cup final on Sat week the County Tyrone side want to visit Ravenhill on Easter Monday. Ballyclare will expect no less from this CV side. We talk about CV there is no doubt Bob Young and his coaching team have replicated the work ethic instilled by CV coaches Glen Kyle and Davy Black into their players. Need I say anymore about these two sides and their clubs. May the best team win.

Omagh v Larne

The County Tyrone side have hit a rich vein of form with them pushing Ballyclare all the way for the Q 2 title. They beat Dungannon seconds 48 – 3 in the first round three weeks ago and recorded a very impressive 29 – 3 bonus point win at fellow promotion contenders Randalstown last Sat. Larne coach Laurence Kelly is looking to measure his sides progress against Omagh on Sat. It could be a tough day at the office for the Antrim side against Phil Marchall’s team who will have their sights on an Easter Monday final at Ravenhill. Omagh to win

Ballymoney v Strabane

There would have been relief at Kilraughts Road amongst the supporters and players after the team recorded a last gasp 15 – 14 win over Cooke last Sat at Shawsbridge. Coaches Neil Beddow and Jason Taggart had hopes of the team contending for league and Cup honours this season. A run of five defeats in six games necessitated changes to the team. Will this win spur the team on. Strabane have struggled this season and remain without a win from eleven games.
Ballymoney to win

Armagh seconds v Coleraine

With the Armagh firsts playing at home in the All ireland League on Sat their seconds will struggle to compete with a Coleraine side who have failed to perform this season despite reaching the Junior Cup semi final. Recent wins over Ballymoney, Randalstown and UUC will have boosted the confidence of the North Coast side. Expect coach Richard Beggs to have his side up for this game. Coleraine have struggled with injuries this season and will rely on their South African Bakkie Carstens to guide them through this tricky tie.
Coleraine to win

Dromore v Ballynahinch seconds

What a cracker of a game to be staged at Barban Hill this weekend. On paper Junior Cup holders Ballynahinch seconds would be favourites to win this tie. Under the guidance of coaches Dewet Bekker and Jeremy Ogle: Dromore have strung togehter a six match unbeaten run in the league and Towns Cup that has moved them into third place in Q 1. It should be noted that Dromore defeated Ballynahinch seconds 17 – 12 in a pre season friendly back in August. Probably the only defeat Hinch seconds have suffered this season. Such is the strength in depth at Ballymacarn Park the seconds players have all had the opportunity to play on the 1st xv this season. In the final of the Junior Cup they deservedly defeated Ballyclare with a very disciplined and structured team performance. In Captain Josh Donaldson along with the experience of Davy Nicholson in the backs there can be only one winner. Ballynahinch seconds to win

Ballymena seconds v UUC

The Eaton Park side were comfortable winners over Portadown 24 – 3 in the 1st round. Despite their 1st xv having an All Ireland League game at home this weekend the Braid men would be favourites to progress to the semi final. Ballymena seconds have already defeated UUC 43 – 13 in the Conference league back in Nov. Ballymena seconds to win

Banbridge seconds v Bangor

This will be a tricky game for Bangor. Bann at home in the Cup are always difficult to defeat. They always produce a big pack that makes it difficult for their visitors. Bangor have had two weeks off to recover from their 27 – 0 defeat at Clogher Valley. If Bangor can secure plenty of possession they have the talent in their free scoring backline to win this game comfortably. Captain Jamie Clegg has been an impressive leader from the front for his team this season.
Bangor to win.

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