Qualifying League Preview Sat 30th November 2013 By George Millar

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No games in Qualifying One due to Junior Cup semi finals this weekend. Firstly must congratulate Clogher Valley and Portadown on their progress to the semi finals of the All Ireland Junior Cup. Both clubs now face difficult away trips to Skibbereen and Enniscorthy on Saturday the 14th December and will welcome a break from playing this weekend to recuperate and rest after a hectic league and Cup programme that started in August.

Qualifying Two

Ballyclare have opened up a eleven point gap on the rest following their 21 – 16 win over challengers Omagh last weekend. Academy have moved up into second place on twenty one points and play the league leaders on the 21st December at Cloughan. Can any of the chasing pack close the gap.

Academy v Limavady

Coach Gareth Lynn along with his assistants Davy Haslett and Colin Petrie will have been pleased with the progress the Roughfort side have made since being relegated last season. Captain Richard Press has become an influential leader in the team. Academy secured the services of Queens scrum half Dave Kenny to their playing squad from last season which boasts the presence of Ulster Junior players Richard Henderson, Chris Nash and the ever present Norman Carson. Ex Belfast Harlequins No 8 Chris McCarey continues to turn out for the 1st xv. Centre John Kelly showed his talent last Saturday by scoring two tries in their 27 – 16 win at Carrickfergus. With their second xv sitting top of Junior four the Academy side are looking to return to Qualifying One. Despite the points difference between the chasing pack and Ballyclare second place could prove important in this league. If no Ulster side is relegated from AIL and an Ulster side is promoted via the Round Robin two sides would be promoted from Qualifying Two. Limavady continue to have a diffcult season and sit second from bottom. Academy to win.

Grosvenor v Carrickfergus

Two teams who sit seventh and eighth in the league with Carrick five points ahead of Grosvenor. Both sides were expected to mount challenges for promotion this season. Grosvenor lost 17 – 0 away to Randalstown last Saturday whilst Carrick lost 27 – 16 at home to Academy. Difficult game to call. Grosvenor to win

Lisburn v Randalstown

Sixth v Fourth in the league. Both teams have played six games and have nineteen points: having played one game less than Ballyclare. A win is vital for both sides if they want to be in the promotion mix at the end of the season. Lisburn coach David Irwin and Captain Peter Graham know the importance of this match and what it means to the Blaris side who have restablished their presence in the league with consistent performances. They have talent in their backline with half backs Paul Melville and Ross Edgar and their strong running centre David Gilkinson. Number 8 Stuart Evans has been a key forward.
for them this season.Randalstown under the guidance of coaches Gary Longwell and Alastair Strange have made good progress this season and recorded an impressive 17 – 0 home win over Grosvenor last Saturday.Number 8 Chris Allen has been a regular try scorer for his side. Again a difficult game to call. Expect a big crowd at Blaris for this encounter. Lisburn to win

Qualifying Three

Holywood v PSNI

The North Down side would have to be firm favourites for the two points in this game. With Holywood and Larne the two title contenders battling it out for that all important promotion place, every point is vital. Holywood will be disappointed that they lost their Gordon West encounter with Larne 13 – 0 last Saturday. Coach Wayne Griffiths and Captain Rory Eves will be loooking a big performance from their players. Holywood to win.

Letterkenny V Larne

Coach Laurence Kelly will be pleased with the commitment shown by his side last Saturday in defeating Holywood. He has plenty of talent throughout his free scoring squad who thrashed the PSNI 77 – 0 in their last league outing. Letterkenny lost their last league game at home to Newry 11 – 9. Larne to win.

Lurgan v Donegal

Lurgan have recorded two wins in the league and Gordon West Cup in their last two outings. Can they make it three a gainst a strong Donegal side who still have ambitions of promotion this season after losing tight games away to Larne and Holywood. Coach Gary Prenderville has put together a strong side who should prove too strong for Lurgan. Donegal to win.

Qualifying Four

Cavan V Armoy

Armoy failed to fulfil their league fixture at Virginia and Cavan will be hoping that Armoy can asemble a playing squad to travel to County Cavan for this match. Armoy have yet to record a win this season and remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the league. Cavan are in fourth place on six points. Last Saturday Cavan suffered a 35 – 10 defeat away to neighbours Virginia. Last Saturday in the Gordon West Cup Armoy lost 61 – 0 away to the Ophir. Cavan to win

Civil Service v BHSFP

Service sit third in the league three points ahead of High School in fifth place. Service lost 41 – 10 away to Lurgan last Saturday in the Gordon West Cup with the High losing 41 – 3 away to the PSNI. Both teams have failed to live up to their playing potential this season. Civil Service to win

Ophir v Virginia

Fascinating game at McGowan Park between the top two teams in the league with two points separating the sides. Ophir remain undefeated in all competitions this season. Both teams recorded impressive wins in the Gordon West Cup last weekend with Ophir winning 61 – 0 at home to Armoy and Virginia winning 35 -10 at home to Cavan. Virginia lost an opening league game to BHSFP 15 – 9 in Sept and have remained undefeated in the league since. Virginia need to win if they are to challenge Ophir for promotion. Ophir to win.

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