…Malone’s IFOR A Roaring Success…Final Game For Bann Stalwart Neilly…Towns Cup Final On Easter Monday…Inishowen In Fourth Forster Final…Age Before Beauty At Eaton Park…
MALONE’S IFOR A ROARING SUCCESS: Last weekend saw Malone RFC stage their 4th International Festival of Rugby for Under-12s and the tournament was a great success.
16 teams from Ireland and the UK took part with Hertfordshire club Bishop’s Stortford deservedly finishing as the Cup winners after some impressive performances, while Young Munster took the honours in the Shield competition.
But as the organisers said, the real winners were all the young participants who took part at Gibson Park. Thanks must go to Barry Leacock and his team for a magnificant event – congratulations from IrishRugby.ie. to those involved.
The full list of teams that took part includes: Malone, Ballyclare, Bangor, Barbarians, Boroughmuir, Bective Rangers, Caerphilly, West of Scotland, Old Crescent, Young Munster, UL Bohemians, Clontarf, Maidenhead, Bishop’s Stortford, Saracens and Sandal.
FINAL GAME FOR BANN STALWART NEILLY: Banbridge Fifths’ season comes to a close this Saturday when they face Armagh Thirds in the Butler Shield final at Chambers Park (kick-off 2.30pm).
For many of the Bann players this game will be their first ever final in adult rugby, but Fifths captain and tighthead prop Dave Neilly has experienced more than his fair share during his long rugby career.
For Dave this final will also be his last as he prepares to hang up his boots and bring to an end a rugby journey that has spanned four decades, beginning back in the 1970s at Regent House Newtownards.
He subsequently moved to England where he played for a number of clubs, most notably London Irish, who were then, as now, in the top flight of English club rugby. A career move saw him returning to Northern Ireland, where he took up residence in Banbridge in the late 1980s and joined the local club.
Dave enjoyed great success with Bann Firsts, winning the Towns Cup in 1989 and 1993 along with the Junior Cup in between in 1990. Three successive Qualifying League titles in the mid-1990s were followed by promotion to the All-Ireland League in 1998.
Over recent seasons, Dave gradually moved down to turn out for the Banbridge Fifths where he has been a permanent fixture in recent times, taking over the captaincy at the start of this season. With his decision to retire having been made earlier in the campaign, the desire to end his career with one last trophy has inspired Dave and the Fifths through a series of tricky ties to reach this Saturday’s final.
Bann won 17-0 away to Shorts in the first round, and followed that with a 23-5 home win over City of Derry. The semi-final draw threw up a tough contest with Ballynahinch Sixths, with whom Bann have enjoyed a good rivalry in recent seasons. Clinical in attack and resilient in defence, Bann eventually prevailed 8-0 to set up a final against their Minor League South counterparts Armagh Thirds.
Bann’s home fixture against Armagh was not played this season, and in the away fixture at Palace Grounds, Armagh won a tight contest with a single score separating the teams. The league table also suggests that the tie on Saturday will be closely fought with the two teams occupying third and fourth position with the Orchard county side just having one more win under their belts.
Chambers Park at Portadown has been a good ground for Neilly in the past, as he featured on the Bann side that won the Nutty Krust Floodlit Trophy seven times in eleven seasons.
The Bann Fifths will be hoping that that impressive record is enhanced when they take the field for the last time this season and for Dave the final time in what has been an illustrious rugby career. IrishRugby.ie wishes him well.
TOWNS CUP FINAL ON EASTER MONDAY: Dungannon’s Stevenson Park will be the venue for the 2006/07 Powerade Towns Cup final between Clogher Valley and their neighours Enniskillen.
The eagerly-awaited clash will take place on Monday (kick-off 2.30pm).
Clogher Valley beat Armagh 22-7 to progress through to the decider. Enniskillen got the better of Ballymoney, winning 34-6, in their semi-final.
Both teams are expected to have big support at the final venue. Enniskillen are laying on a special breakfast and travel deal for their supporters at a cost of £10. The bus will leave the club for Dungannon at 10am – for further details and to book a place, please contact Ciaran McElduff (tel: 07724843371 or 02866324591), or Willie Balfour (tel: 07767861870).
Clogher Valley’s spectator buses will be leaving the Edfield Way car park at 12.30pm on Monday.
INISHOWEN IN FOURTH FORSTER FINAL: Inishowen RFC will be hoping to reclaim the Forster Cup on Easter Sunday when they take on Ballynahinch in the 2006/07 Forster Cup final at Omagh RFC. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
Inishowen lost last year’s final to Enniskillen and the Donegal side are expected to bring some considerable support with them to Omagh.
A bus has been organised to take the Inishowen supporters to the final venue for €10 return. The bus will leave Carndonagh Diamond at 12.30pm. Tickets are available from Kelly’s Service Station or from John Merritt (tel: 0866033660). All support is welcome.
AGE BEFORE BEAUTY AT EATON PARK: It is sure to be a sight to behold as ‘Old Ballymena’ and ‘Old Harlequins (NIFC & Collegians)’ take on each other before Saturday’s AIB League Division match between the clubs at Eaton Park.
Belfast Harlequins have sent out a plea, “calling for all former Collegians, NIFC and Harlequins players” to get in touch and take part in the curtain raiser. Two stipulations – you have to be over 35 and not too fit!
It will be a gala day out prior to the league match which kicks off at 3pm. Rolling substitutions and portable defibrillators will be available. Please contact Stephen Hutton (tel: 0044 (0) 7793758079) or Graham McCluggage (tel: 0044 (0) 7799411143).