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Club News: Ulster Round-Up

Club News: Ulster Round-Up

…Armagh Secure Sponsor For Mini Tournament…Ballymoney Step Up Recruitment Drive…Ballymena Keen To Avoid Drop…Dromore “Confident” Ahead Of Junior Cup Semi-Final…Chinese Taipei Train Civil Service Minis…

ARMAGH SECURE SPONSOR FOR MINI TOURNAMENT: Armagh RFC have confirmed that Dale Farm will sponsor the club’s end-of-season mini rugby tournament, which takes place this Saturday at the Palace Grounds.

The event has quickly become one of the biggest mini rugby tournaments in Ireland with teams from seven clubs – Armagh, Portadown, Ashbourne, Coolmine, Dundalk, Virginia and Navan – set to duel it for honours this year.

Armagh won three trophies at last year’s tournament. Matches will be played in six age groups, from P3 through to Year 1, at the 2007 event.

The most successful club overall at the Armagh minis is set to be awarded a special trophy by sponsors Dale Farm. The club with the most points after the completion of all age groups will lift the Dale Farm Cup.

Meanwhile, one of Armagh’s mini rugby coaches, Mike Boyd, will be running the Belfast Marathon this year in aid of the Wooden Spoon charity, the official charity for the home unions and a charity which focuses on assisting underprivileged and handicapped children.

Armagh RFC has strong links with the Wooden Spoon, having introduced them to both Longstone Riding for the Disabled and the Oaklands respite home, both of whom have recently benefited from Wooden Spoon investment in their respective facilities.

– If you wish to sponsor Mike in his efforts to raise money for this very worthy cause, please contact him at  mboyd1@madasafish.com

BALLYMONEY STEP UP RECRUITMENT DRIVE: Antrim club Ballymoney are seeking to bolster their squad, having qualified for Kukri Ulster Qualifying League’s Section One for the first time in their history.

Having topped Section Two this season, Ballymoney, whose player-coach Jason Taggart has decided to stay on at the club, are eagerly awaiting their derby clahses with Limavady and Coleraine in 2007/08.

Club captain James Carson said: “It’s great to have Jason signed up for the forseeable future and all the existing squad remain intact. We have a really talented bunch of lads here who are all looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“We could look back at a very successful season but we’re always trying to look ahead and striving for improvement.”

– Anyone from Ballymoney or the surrounding areas who want to take up rugby, at any level, you can contact club PRO Nicky Armstrong (tel: 0044 (0) 7816687243) or manager Craig Whyte (tel: 0044 (0) 7708150204) for further information –

BALLYMENA KEEN TO AVOID DROP: Ballymena face into one of their biggest AIB League games in recent seasons when they travel to Cork Constitution on Saturday, seeking to avoid the drop down to Division Two.

If results do not go their way, and the Braidmen suffer a heavy defeat, they could yet join Buccaneers in being relegated from the top flight.

Hoping his side can avoid a seventh straight league defeat, Ballymena team manager Sam McGreer said: “We will probably be aware of what is going on in the other games by some means, but the most important thing is that we concentrate on what we’re doing ourselves.

“We have to be mindful of the fact that even if some of the teams below us at the start of the day lose, they could still pick up bonus points if they were to score four tries or if they were to restrict their opponents to winning by a small margin.

“We have to approach our game in a positive fashion, knowing that we will have to work extremely hard to get anything out of it because Cork haven’t won 12 games out of 14 by giving anything away,” he told the Ballymena Times.

Indeed, one of the teams involved in the relegation battle, UCD, were the last outfit Ballymena managed to beat in the league in January. The Jacques Benade-coached side have been guilty of not making the most of their try-scoring chances.

“We’ve had a fairly solid pack throughout the season but we haven’t been able to put the tries away in the backs.

“As well as that, we’ve had games where we’ve been in control and given it away – we were beaten in injury time by Buccaneers and were leading going into injury time against Garryowen before giving away a penalty in front of the posts,” added McGreer.

Ballymena are definitely without captain and lock Bob Young, who is nursing a shoulder injury, while hooker Stephen Douglas and centre Jamie Smith are on duty for the Ireland Under-19s. Veteran flanker Andy Graham’s wife is also due to give birth on Saturday.

DROMORE “CONFIDENT” AHEAD OF JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL: County Down side Dromore have the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup trophy in their sights, but they must book their place in the final yet, with Cooke providing their opposition in Tuesday’s semi-final.

Having recently ensured their place in Section One of the Ulster Qualifying League, beating Bangor 18-8 in a relegation play-off, Dromore come into the Shaw’s Bridge encounter in buoyant mood.

They did manage to beat Cooke at home in the league, but they lost away at Shaw’s Bridge and know they have nothing to lose with their league status secure.

Club captain David Cantley said: “We have beaten Cooke once before this season, and we know we are in good form as we have beaten Omagh, Enniskillen and Bangor in recent weeks. Hopefully we can perform as well as we did against Bangor and come away with a victory.”

Team manager Billy Savage added: “A cup final would be a huge bonus for this season now that the important matter of avoiding relegation has been settled.

“There were so many Dromore people at the game (against Bangor) on Saturday and their support was magnificent. A similar turnout would inspire the boys on, I’m sure.”

CHINESE TAIPEI TRAIN CIVIL SERVICE MINIS: Earlier in the week, the Chinese Taipei squad, who are currently taking part in the IRB Under-19 World Championship, joined up with the mini section at Civil Service RFC, not only to aid the development and enjoyment of the young players, but also as a way of thanking the club for their support during the tournament.

With no rugby for younger children in Chinese Taipei, this was a new experience for the touring group of players. They thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the young players, and as a result the children also benefited a once in the lifetime experience.

The team took part in various drills and games with the kids, and provided them with IRB merchandise afterwards.