Photography by Andrew Gray.
The Gary Clarke Memorial tournament took place on Wednesday (11th March) evening at Lurgan RFC. Lurgan College, Banbridge Academy, Portadown College and Friends’ School all took part in this prestigious event which saw all the teams playing attacking rugby at every opportunity.
The Friends’ School team started out with an evenly contested game against Lurgan College. The only score that separated the teams was a Ryan Hall try that was scored after Ryan had used his pace to outstrip the Lurgan College defence. James McGucken added the extras to secure a 7-0 victory for the Friends’ School team.
Next up for the Friends’ School team was the Banbridge Academy team. Friends’ took a 7-0 lead when, after some early pressure on the Banbridge Academy line, James Maxwell forced his way over for a try. James McGucken was successful with the conversion kick. Banbridge responded immediately and scored a try through Jordan Mount. The try was converted to draw the score level at 7-7. With little time remaining, the Friends’ team started to chase the game. This proved to be their undoing when a loose pass was intercepted by Shane Honeyford who ran in for a try. The conversion kick was successful leaving the Banbridge Academy team as 14-7 winners.
In the last of the round robin matches Friends’ played their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup opponents, Portadown College. Friends’ got out of the blocks early and didn’t give the Portadown team a moments rest, dominating them at scrum time. It was from a scrum that the Friends’ School No 8, Thomas Boyde, picked the ball and drove over the Portadown College line to touch down for the first points of the game. James McGucken maintained his 100% record with his trusty boot when he landed the conversion to give the Friends’ School team a 7-0 lead. Friends’ had most of the pressure but couldn’t make it count until the last minute of the game. James McGucken converted a penalty opportunity to extend the Friends’ School lead to 10-0 , a lead they held until the final whistle.
This meant Friends’ would go into the final against Banbridge where the game saw Friends’ stick to the norm of the evening and look the more promising side. With five minutes gone Friends’ attacked down the wing but the ball was knocked with the Banbridge Academy line at their mercy. An injury to a player caused the game to be abandoned and both Friends’ School and Banbridge Academy were awarded a share of the Gary Clarke Memorial Trophy at the end of an entertaining evening of schoolboy rugby.
The participating teams would like to thank the Lurgan Rugby Football Club for hosting this event that was thoroughly enjoyed by all the players.
CLICK HERE for pictures from the tournament.