Ballyclare regain Hall Cup.
Following hard fought seasons in their respective leagues, Ballyclare RFC and Larne RFC locked horns in the annual Hall Cup competition. Ballyclare having clinched fourth spot in the highly competitive Qualifying 1 league and Larne finishing with mid table respectability in the equally competitive Qualifying 2.
Larne had won the cup, in Larne, last season following a lack lustre performance from Ballyclare, so the Cloughan men did not underestimate the challenge that would be presented by their neighbouring rivals.
The Ballyclare clubhouse was packed for the pre-match reception, which was generously sponsored by local firm Agnew Recovery. Members of the clubs successful U14 and U16 squads were in attendance and it was great to see the future of the club there. Two special guests were also in attendance, founding members of Ballyclare RFC, Derek Moore and Leslie McAdoo. Leslie has the accolade of scoring the first try for Ballyclare RFC in their first fixture in their first season, 1949/50, against Larne RFC!
Unfortunately no one from either club can remember who won!
Weather for the 2016 fixture was a bit of a mixed bag as the game unfolded. Rain at kick off, progressed to snow and finished in bright sunshine! Early pressure from Ballyclare was overturned giving Larne territory in Ballyclare’s 22. A rarely seen, drop goal, gave Larne an early lead. Ballyclare responded with a well worked try. Following an initial break by scrum half Thomas McGookin, the ball was transferred at pace to Captain Gary Weatherup. Weatherup raced into the Larne 22 and got a well-executed pass away to the supporting Robert Boyd. Boyd powered for the line and got the touchdown wide right. The conversion was pushed wide by Smith. With five minutes of the half left, having ebbed and flowed without much penetration from either side, Weatherup broke the Larne defence again. Closing down on the line, Gary drew his man and got the pass away to Robert Smith who touched down in the right hand corner again. The conversion was pushed wide again. Larne closed the gap with a long range penalty, to leave the score 10-6 at half time.
Ten minutes into the second half, Larne hit another penalty to close the gap to a point. Smith hit a penalty for Ballyclare soon after to put Ballyclare 13-9 in front. A superb break out by front row Ross Scott saw him stopped just short of the line. The ball was quickly recycled, and fellow front row man Willie Rea was on hand to crash over the line, between the posts. With the conversion added the score was now 20-9. Ballyclare saw out the game with the majority of possession in the Larne half, resolute Larne defending stopped any further score. Ballyclare 20 Larne 9. Both teams and supporters retired to the warmth of the club house where Larne President, Phil McMurtry, presented the trophy to Ballyclare Captain Gary Weatherup. Ballyclare Man of the Match was awarded to Robert Boyd. The fixture will be played again in Larne next season.
Ballyclare 3’s returned empty handed from a match away to Ballymoney 3’s, the 4’s played their last game and got a good win away to Newry 2’s.
Earlier that morning Ballyclare youth sides had mixed results in their cup competitions. The U14 lost out to Lurgan RFC whilst the U16 progressed to the semi-final stage, by defeating their counterparts from Monaghan RFC 15-13. The U18 lost out in their quarter final, 20-12 away to Letterkenny.
Reminder to Ballyclare RFC members that the annual awards dinner is on Saturday 23rd April in the clubhouse. Members who wish to attend are asked to contact Chairman Peter Kirk, or add their name to the list behind the bar. Ballyclare RFC AGM is due to be held in the clubhouse on Thursday 28th April, all adult members are encouraged to attend.