Virginia U14s One Step Away From Back to Back Ulster Titles
Virginia RFC U14s travelled to Ballyclare RFC on Saturday to take on the hosts in the Ulster League Semi-Final, looking to secure the chance to defend the title they won last year. It was a perfect day for rugby, but Virginia were up against a team with only one defeat this season so they knew they were in for a tough day.
This was emphasised when Ballyclare took an early lead with a try in the corner, their strong running backs showing what they were capable of. Virginia then took control of the first half, with their forwards again securing ball at the set piece with a strong front row performance from Jamie Osbourne, Jake Sullivan and Ryan McGuigan, and dominance in the loose from Cai Walker, Robert Lochaden, Callum Finane and Adrian Lynch. With plenty of possession the backs had time to test the Ballyclare defence. Jason Henderson worked well at the back of the breakdown, and Adam Charters varied the play from fly-half to keep Ballyclare guessing as to where the attack would come from. Conor Nulty and Niall Carolan in the three-quarters linked the play superbly setting Paddy Gordon in space, and he proved too much for the home defence to handle completing a first half hatrick, with two conversions from Aaron Mannion meaning they went into the break 19-5 ahead.
If Virginia thought they were home and dry they couldn’t of been more wrong. Right from the kick off Ballyclare got an early score to keep them in the game. Virginia again took the game to the hosts, but a turnover in their twenty-two saw the Ballyclare fly-half run in a try under the posts, the conversion making the score 19-17. All of a sudden the pressure was on the visitors but they responded superbly. Again Virginia camped themselves in opposition territory, with any attempt by Ballyclare to escape dealt with well by David Gibney at Full Back. The forwards mounted an assault on the home try line but the hosts defended brilliantly, eventually though Michael McKeon-Boyle crossed for a deserved try to secure a hard fought 24-17 victory.
A mention must also go to Thomas Sheridan, Callum Caswell, Mark Gibney, Adam Sheriff, John Dolan and Jack Vaughan, who have more than played their part in getting the team this far. The squad now head to Magherafelt next weekend to take on Ballinahinch RFC in the League Final, looking to take the final step in defending the League title they won last year.
Virginia U/15 Girls Travel to Ballinasloe for Thrilling Encounter
On Sunday afternoon, Virginia Under 15 girls played what can only be described as a pulsating match against Connacht champions Ballinasloe. Both teams were delighted to have the opportunity for such a completitive game. The girls kicked off in glorious sunshine, and the first fifteen minutes seen both teams battling for possession, with the hosts gaining the upperhand first and they crossed the line for a well placed try which was easily converted by their kicker. Just before the half time whistle, Lisa Mullen equalled the score at 7 all with a try of her own which she also ably converted.
In the second half Ballinasloe caught the visitors napping and scored two converted scores within the first five minutes. However, Virginia girls were not to be deterred and with great determination and teamwork, came back to within two points of their hosts with two more tries from Lisa. With the score showing 21-19 to Ballinasloe, Virginia were not giving up, and two more tries followed, one from Samantha Snell, and the other from Amanda McQuade, leaving the score 21-29 in Virginia’s favour. Ballinasloe replied once again, and the scoreline of 28-29 provided a nail biting final five minutes. Minutes before the final whistle, Rachael McEnroe provided the icing on the cake, adding a further five points for Virginia. The final score of 28-34 to Virginia was the result of some of the best rugby both teams have played all season. Many thanks to our hosts for their warm hospitality, and Virginia look forward to welcoming them back to Deerpark in the very near future.
Next weekend sees our under 15 girls travel to Enniskillen for their next match.
Squad: Ava Fannin, Sorcha Higgins, Sarah Corrie, Emily Gregory, Ciara Byers, Eimear Coyle, Rachael McEnroe, Amanda McQuade, Ruth Gilsenan, Lisa Mullen, Hannah Grimes, Emma Ryan, Rebecca Snell, Sorcha McCormack, Chloe Duffy, Emma Lochaden, Samantha Snell, and Caitlin Ryan.