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Qualifying League One

Ballyclare (5( v Instonians (1)
Peter Kirk the 1st xv manager at Ballyclare is confident his side are showing real signs of returning to form as they battled to salvage a losing bonus point in their home defeat to Donaghadee. He believes all these points could prove crucial in the coming weeks. Believe it or not Ballyclare could still qualify for the All Ireland Junior Cup next season or be facing a battle to retain their Q 1 status. What a situation coach Chris Campbell faces in the remaining matches. Bobby Smith returns at out half for the Clare side alongside Jonny Reid. Paul Robinson retains his place in the back row after several strong performances. The Cloughan team know they will be “underdogs” going into this match and with the backing of a strong home support believe they can defeat the Inst side. William Leacock has witnessed the good and bad times at Shaws bridge in recent years. Along with his assistants Keith Crossan and Mark McDowell they have developed a strong belief in the playing squad. They have already secured the Junior Cup and despite the exit from the McCrea Cup they can focus on winning their remaining five matches and the league title. When these two sides met at Shaws bridge Instonians won 30 – 5.

Clogher Valley (2) v CIYMS (7)
There may have been disappointment at replaying the league match with Dromore next Wed to add to an already congested programme that will see C V playing seven matches over the next five weeks. The Fivemiletown side have been in in this situation in recent seasons coming up short on playing in the AIL. The club are the envy of their counterparts for their ability to win silverware each season. They have not given up hope of retaining their league crown as they continue to chase down league leaders Instonians. For the game on Sat the coaches have added Ryan Wilson to the injured list along with backs Philip Holme and centre David Dunlop. Mark Ellis starts at scrum half with BJ Wilson restored to the back row. CIYMS need league points and will find the Cran a difficult venue to pick up any points. They have a talented squad as they showed in their 37 – 17 defeat at Malone last Sat scoring three excellent tries. Scrum half Michael Wilson is a talented player and along with out half Sam Baker and centre Andy Hodgen can pose problems for the Clogher side. In the forwards players including Paddy Aiken, Mark Scott, Scott Dowle and Mark McConkey can match the Clogher forwards. Has the potential to be much closer game if the CI team play for eighty mins.

Cooke (8) v Ballymoney (10)
Two sides that need points as they fight for their survival in Q 1. Cooke player/coach Colin Atkinson will be pleased with the way his side responded from their heavy league defeat against Instonians to score seven tries in their convincing 41 – 15 win over Grosvenor in the McCrea Cup. When these two sides met at Ballymoney in the corresponding fixture, Cooke ran out narrow 7 – 0 winners. Expect another tight contest as the Ballymoney side continue their fight to remain in Q 1. A defeat for the Braid side would make it very difficult for them to stay up. Their player/coach Jason Taggart will know the importance of this game. In their last game they drew 8 – 8 with visitors CIYMS. Both Kyle Mitchell and Gareth Robinson will return from injury to bolster the Cooke team. Sure to be a keenly contested game. Both coaches know they have to win on Sat.

Donaghadee (9) v Bangor (3)
What a battle we are in for at Donaldson Park on Sat. A match that will bring hundreds of supporters out to support their team. Dee are on a run of four wins that includes progress to the semi finals of the Towns Cup where they will play Ballynahinch seconds. Two impressive wins over Portadown and away to Ballyclare secured maximum points as the side battle to retain their Q 1 status. Bangor recovered from their mauling by Dundalk in the All Ireland Junior Cup final to earn a narrow 17 – 10 win over Portadown. They will have to dig deep to take any points from the cauldron of Donaldson Park as the vociferious home support get behind their team. Bangor will be missing the injured Ryan Latimer with forwards Freddie Black and James Leary returning to the pack. Chris Morgan returns at fullback with the Bangor backs Mark Widdowson, Davy Charles and Mike Weir posing a real threat for the Dee back line. Bangor chairman Jonny Watson says the game is too close to call as the Dee are in cracking form. A confident Dee team at home with a massive crowd behind them has all the Bangor players and supporters excited. He went on to say he would love to see the Dee staying up with Ards coming down to Q 1 next season, but he wants his team to win this match. His team were poor when they last played at Donaldson Park. He expects his pack to be fired up from the start for this encounter. Dee player/coach Paul McKenzie is really loking forward to this game. The Dee have a pretty settled team and are playing well. Max Montgomery, Richard Martindale and Andrew Findlater return this weekend. For the neutral rugby supporter who has never watched club rugby this is a game that arouses passions you will not see at any other venue. Bangor were convincing 41 – 13 when the two sides met at Upritchard Park.

Portadown (6) v Dromore (4)
Coach Richard Hedley will be looking a repeat performance from his team when they defeated Dromore 35 – 11 in the Towns Cup on the 24th Jan. Despite a heroic performance in their 39 – 23 Towns Cup defeat at Ballymena last Sat it is the league form that concerns the coach. They have lost their last six matches and need league points. The coach acknowledges Dromore are a good side and it is important his players win at home this Sat. Ollie Montels and Andrew Chambers return to the team with injured prop Mark Henderson unavailable. Dromore assistant coach Jeremy Ogle knows this is a big game for his side. Michael Allen returns at full back with Lee Steenson starting at outhalf and Chris Jenks at scrum half. Big match for both sides with an All Ireland Junior Cup qualification at stake. Portadown can’t allow themselves to be caught up in a relegation battle. Dromore won the corresponding league fixture at Barben Hill 11 – 6.

Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Ballyclare v Instonians
Clogher Valley v CIYMS
Cooke v Ballymoney
Donaghadee v Bangor
Portadown v Dromore

Qualifying Three
Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Donegal v Lurgan
Larne v Newry
Strabane v Limavady

Qualifying Four
Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Cavan v BHSFP
Civil Service v Virginia
Letterkenny v Monaghan

Qualifying Two
Carrickfergus (2) v Omagh (1)
Three points separate these two sides with Carrickfergus having played one game more than their opponents. Their meeting at the Tom Simms Memorial Park this weekend can consolidate Omagh’s position as favourites or enable Carrick in their 150th Anniversary to believe they can achieve their ambition of securing promotion this season. Alot at stake for both sides. Omagh coach Phil Marshall remains without Captain Mark Smyth and his fellow front row forward Steven Lyons. This is the first meeting between the two sides this season with the return meeting at Omagh on the 4th April a potential league decider. Another fixture that will attract a large crowd.

Coleraine (4) v Enniskillen(6)
Promotion is beyond the Coleraine side this season with the coaches looking a strong finish to their season. When these two sides at Mullaghmeen in October, Coleraine ran our narrow 20 – 19 winners. Skins Head coach Norman Richmond will be looking to his team to bounce back from consecutive defeats against Ballynahinch seconds and Omagh. They have made considerable progress this season and will have learned from defeats to Instonians, Ballynahinch and Omagh what is required to compete with these teams. This is work in progress for this developing squad who are expected to mount a challenge next season for both league and Cup honours. Coleraine are a team in transition and narrowly over came Lisburn 19 -16 last Sat. Expect another close encounter between these two teams.

Holywood (9) v UUC (10)
Coach Laurence Kelly has already put his teams 88 – 0 loss at home to Randalstown two weeks ago behind him as he prepares his team for this crucial basement battle at Kerr Park. The students only league points this season came from their 29 – 29 draw between the two teams at the Riverside in October. A must win game for both sides if they are to avoid relegation this season.

Randalstown (5) v Academy (3)
Two teams who are assembling playing squads that will be serious contenders for promotion next season. Coaches Gary Longwell and Alastair Strange will be looking their team to continue their good form after sweeping Holywood aside in their last outing. They welcome back out half Ryan Bailey who scored three tries in the home match against Grosvenor. Coach Gareth Lynn is pleased with the progress his Academy team have made this season. Saturday’s meeting at Nelisbrook is sure to be a competitive encounter as both teams look to finish in the top four. Academy have progressed to the semi finals of the McCrea Cup where they will play Cooke with a Cup final beckoning at the Kingspan stadium.

Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Carrickfergus v Omagh
Coleraine v Enniskillen
Holywood v UUC
Randalstown v Academy

Div 1B
Ballymena v Galwegians
League leaders Galwegians travel to Eaton Park to face fourth place Ballymena with only three points separating the top four sides. Dave Ryan and Michael Lagan are the only players released by Ulster this week. Callum Patterson made a timely return for Ballymena seconds in the Towns Cup last Sat and should make the starting squad. They will also welcome back their Club Ireland XV players Stephen Mulholland and Connor Smyth. Sure to attract a large crowd. Despite the absence of Ricky Andrew’s, Dave Shanahan and Mike McComish there is enough strength in depth to see the braid men securing the points.

Belfast Harlequins v Shannon
For the first time this season Quins coach Adam Larkin will be able to select from a full squad. With Michael Heaney, Neil McComb, Sean Reidy, Frankie Taggart and Rory Scholes available the coach will have a few difficult selections to make. The return of the injured Mark Kettyle at out half in the absence of the injured Eamon Lane is timely. Mark Glover fresh from his three tries against Banbridge is expected to start on the wing. Fit again prop Tom Fraser is expected to start in the front row. The team were disappointed to lose in the last few minutes at Garryowen and will know this is a must win fixture for the Deramore side at home this weekend. Quins will be looking to complete the double over the Limerick side after defeating them at Thomond Park 26 – 21 in Nov.

Malone v UL Bohemians
With this fixture being switched from Thomond to Annacotty, Malone coach Jacque Benade will know that nothing less than a win is required in this basement battle with the Limerick side. Injuries continue to pose selection problems for the coach with centre Josh Pentland ruled out for the season and winger Adam Liddell out for 4/6 weeks. He will have been pleased to see influential forwards Richard Millar and Dane Fitzpatrick put in strong performances for the seconds against CIYMS last Sat after long spells on the injured list. Both Ulster players Conor Joyce and Paul Jackson will add experience to this young side. When these two sides met at Gibson Park in Nov, Malone ran out 23 – 10 winners. Can the Gibson Park side win their first away match down South this weekend.

Fxtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Ballymena (4) v Galwegians(1)
Belfast Harlequins (7) v Shannon (6)
UL Bohemians (10) v Malone (8)

Div 2B
Armagh v Boyne
Coach Andy Hughes has witnessed two AIL matches where his side lost and won by 13 – 10. He knows his side cannot afford any more slip ups as they look to consolidate their top four finish in this league. A comprehensive 37 – 6 defeat of Queens has set the side up for the trip to Drogheda to face a struggling Boyne side. He has a full squad at his disposal that will see Andrew McGowan retain the out half jersey with the elusive running of Manihera Eden accomodated at full back. Player coach Seamus Mallon was man of the match against Queens and will be looking a strong performance from the forwards led by influential number 8 Neil Faloon. Expect a strong finish to the season by a team who have won four AIL games away from home. That record has only been bettered by Ballymena this season.

Ards v Old Crescent
Another lengthy trip for the struggling Ards side to Limerick this weekend. It is very much a case of the team completing their remaining fixtures as the club prepare to rebuild next season. The club have ambitious plans to redevelop their facilities at Hamilton Park by 2017. Much work will need to be done to strengthen their playing resources in the coming seasons.

Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Boyne (14) v Armagh (3)
Old Crescent (8) v Ards (16)

Div 2A
Queens v Nenagh Ormond
A diffcult trip for the Students to County Tipperary. The home side have a strong pack and are currently fighting for every point to stay in the third tier of AIL rugby. Queens harbour ambitions of promotion and face stiff opposition from Blackrock College, Skerries and Barnhall for that all important second place behind runaway leaders Old Wesley. Ireland under 20 commitments will rule out Zack McCall, Alex Thompson, Lorcan Dow and Jack Owens with Jacob Stockdale and Sean O’Hagan on the injured list. Captain Ryan Clarke and his back row colleague Josh Atkinson will need to be at their best if the students are to win this match.

Banbridge v Seapoint
The Bann side are positoned in seventh place, six points behind second place Blackrock College. They have five games remaining with their final match at home to league leaders Old Wesley. Can coaches Daniel Soper and Simon Best do the impossible and secure that all important second place and promotion. Seapoint continue to struggle at the bottom of the table alongside Bective Rangers and Dungannon. If the Bann forwards can secure enough ball for their talented and exciting backline then we can expect a maximum five points from this fixture.

City of Derry v Naas
Derry are are one place below the all important tenth place and a place in the third tier of AIL rugby next season. They face a diffcult trip to County Kildare side Naas who are coming of the back of three successive wins in the AIL. Coach Terry McMaster has made a number of changes with Peter Henderson restored to full back. Winger Tiernan Thorton retains his place after a couple of good performances. Stuart Simpson and Josh Lewis continue their midfield partnership. In the forwards Mark Walker starts at openside with Adam Bratton moving to the blindside. Stephen Corr replaces the unavailable Stephen Ferguson at number 8. Scrum half Andrew Semple scored 26 points against Dungannon last Sat. His partnership with Richard McCarter will be crucial. Must win game for the North west side, who are looking their first away win in the AIL this season.

Dungannon v Cashel RFC
The County Tipperary side are very much in contention for that all important second place and will present Dungannon with a strong physical challenge up front. Again Dungannon will rely on the Sinnamon brothers in the front row and number 8 James McMahon to be competitive in this game. They have a talented out half in Jack Milligan who continues to perform in a struggling side.

Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm
Banbridge (7) v Seapoint ( 14)
Dungannon (16) v Cashel RFC (6)
Naas (9) v City of Derry (11)
Nenagh ormond (10) v Queens Uni (4)
Rainey OB (13) v Skerries (3)

Ulster Bank All Ireland league
Div 1A

Ballynahinch v St Marys College
Coach Derek Suffern and his players go in search of their first away win in the AIL when they travel to Dublin this week end. After winning a playoff to remain in this league last season the team believe they can make the top four and guarantee themselves a place in the playoffs. They have to take one match at a time with the focus on St Mary’s this week as they have found a bit of form lately in the league. He is confident the players have the ability and motivation to win this game. When the sides met earlier in the season at Ballymacarn park, Hinch ran out 33 – 13 winners. Injuries rule out Kenny Morton, David McGuigan, and Harry McAleese. Rhuardi Murphy will form the front row with Jonny Murphy and Kyle McCall with second rows John Donnan , James Simpson and Jonny Madden all fit. Michael Grahem, Paul Pritchard and Charlie Butterworth will make up a strong back row. Jordan Gratton partners Stuart Morrow in the midfield. Chris Quinn, Ross Adair and Adam Craig make up an exciting back three.

Fixtures. Sat 21.2.15. Kick off 2.30pm

St Mary’s (9) v Ballynahinch(5)

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