There has been much talk of late from Ulster Rugby headquarters about how the youth game is to be developed to ensure a continual supply to the senior side so we popped along to Eaton Park, Ballymena on Saturday to have a look at the up and coming youngsters in the Ulster U20 set up.
It was good to see some of the players we’d watched during our Schools Cup coverage feature on both sides with Larne Grammar, Friends School Lisburn and of course Ballymena Academy all being represented as well as the usual powerhouses.
The Ulster side started The Barbarian Cup match very strongly running in three tries in the opening twenty minutes with Ian Henderson, Stewart Simpson and Chris Colvin all dotting down in rapid succession. Paddy Jackson converted two, taking the score to 19 – 0.
The Barbarian side however, managed to organise their defence and began to apply pressure of their own. Despite a few good runs they were unable break through the well organised Ulster defence before the break.
Both defences were on top throughout the second half but it was the Barbarians who scored next with Michael Cromey powering over mid way through the second half. Alan McCluggage missed the conversion taking the score to 19 -5.
Ulster fought back and applied pressure close to the Ballymena line. Following an impressive drive in the scrum the ball was shipped to Paddy Jackson who dummied and skipped over under the posts to dot down for the final try of the match. Jackson converted his own try taking the final score to 26 – 5.
Ulster U20: Andy Warwick, Jonny Murphy, Kyle McCall, Calum Lecky, James Brady, Ian Henderson, David McGuigan, Stephen Irvine, Blane McIlroy, Paddy Jackson, Chris Leathem, Stuart Simpson, Stuart McIlwaine, Chris Colvin, Charlie Simpson, Daryl Maxwell, Conor Carey, Phil Whyte, Adam Best, Harry Doyle, Jack Carvle, Davy Cartman, Mark Glover.
Ballymena Barbarians U20: Rory Harrison, Chris Cundell, Chris Rae, Chris Smyth, Andrew Hamilton, Ross Hackney, Andrew Harbinson, Stephen Mullholland, Alan McCluggage, Colin McCartney, Nigel Nevin, Darrell Montgomery, Kyle Moore, Callum Rowan, Rodger McBurney, Jamie Wilkinson, Adam Scott, Michael Cromey, David Whan, Peter Irwin, Ali Chambers, Maury McDowell.