…Cooke And Clogher Valley To Contest Junior Cup Final…Harlequins’ Minis Off To London…Ulster Under-18 Girls Squad Taking Shape…Banbridge U-14s Out To Retain Ulster Development Shield…’Hinch’s Lindsay Cars Tournament A Huge Success…
COOKE AND CLOGHER VALLEY TO CONTEST JUNIOR CUP FINAL: Belfast side Cooke are in line to win their second cup title of the season after beating Dromore 31-15 in Tuesday’s Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup semi-final at Shaw’s Bridge.
The Johnny Keith-captained side, who lifted the McCrea Cup earlier this month, took control early on against Dromore, striking for two converted tries inside the first quarter-hour.
Their third try followed on 20 minutes and although Dromore hit back in the second half with tries from Mark Crothers (2) and David Cantley, Cooke were just too good.
Speaking afterwards, Dromore captain Cantley said: “A cup final would have been a fine way to end a difficult season, but it wasn’t to be. The players have given their all this season and our most important match of the year was against Bangor last week (in a league play-off) and we put everything into that.
“That was certainly our cup final and the victory ensures that we will play our rugby in Section One of the Kukri Ulster Qualifying League next season.”
Cooke will face Clogher Valley, who beat Coleraine 39-10 in last Saturday’s semi-final at the Cran, in the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup final. The decider will take place at the grounds of Portadown RFC next Tuesday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Meanwhile, Cooke are hosting a Mini Rugby tournament at their Shaw’s Bridge base this Saturday. With invitations sent to 12 clubs from all over Ulster, fielding teams in four age groups, together with increased squad sizes, this year will see Cooke host its biggest tournament ever.
A P3 Tag competition, running in parallel with the main event, will bring the total number of participants to over 900 players and coaches and up to 1000 spectators. Over 150 matches have been programmed in what promises to be a spectacular day.
The tournament commences at 9.30am and is expected to finish at approximately 3.30pm, when awards will be presented by representatives from the Ulster and Ireland rugby teams.
Refreshments will be available throughout day. The nominated charity for this year’s tournament is the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and a ballot will also be taking place for a signed Ulster jersey.
HARLEQUINS’ MINIS OFF TO LONDON: A squad of 18 boys from Belfast Harlequins Mini Rugby Under-11s (P7) is travelling to London this Friday to represent the club in the largest Mini Rugby festival in Europe, which takes place on Sunday at London Irish in Sunbury, North London.
The leading clubs in Europe will be represented on the day. The Belfast Harlequins squad comprises of boys from eight different primary schools in Belfast – Fullerton, St. Bride’s, Strandtown, St. Joseph’s, Stranmillis, Downey House, Park Lodge and Campbell Junior. It is a truly cross-community squad in keeping with Quins’ philosophy.
Notably, the squad includes Alexander Hamilton, the son of Gordon Hamilton, who scored that famous try for Ireland against Australia at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, and James Piggott, the grandson of former Collegians’ international Jimmy Piggott. Good luck to all the ‘Quins players and coaches involved!
ULSTER UNDER-18 GIRLS SQUAD TAKING SHAPE: The Ulster Under-18 Girls Development squad are gearing up for their friendly fixture against Munster U-18s in Dublin on Sunday, May 13.
The final trials for the Ulster panel took place this week in Enniskillen and Belfast. Up to 70 girls have gone through training and trials in their respective areas since August after being selected from school/club based competitions.
These sessions have seen the girls coached by Regional Development Officer Joy Sparkes and Schools Development Officer Nathan Moore. The excellent work done in the schools has provided a vital link helping establish several new clubs in Ulster over the last few years.
A squad of 32 players has been selected from these trials and will go forward to play against Munster, who lost to Worcester in a friendly a few weeks ago.
The match will be a fitting reward for these girls who have excelled in their commitment and skill development. It is hoped that this Interprovincial game will become a regular one.
When they reach the age of 18, these girls will filter into the senior Development set-up and in time the Ulster senior squad, providing a proper pathway and much needed player base for senior player development.
Ulster U-18 Girls Squad: Laura Feely (Donegal), Victoria Barnes (Lisburn), Serita Capari (Magherafelt), Emma Boyd (Lisburn), Rachel Lennox (Magherafelt), Aimme McNiece (Cooke), Casha Wlodarski (Virginia), Shauna Keogan (Virginia), Laura Tollerton (Cooke), Claire Connolly (Ballyclare), Susan Hall (Enniskillen), Courtney Bell (Ballyclare), Jenni Dornan (Lisburn), Triona Johnston (Enniskillen), Katherine Hanna (Lisburn), Alannah Fowley (Virginia), Emma Dines (Ballyclare), Leanne Hall (Enniskillen), Sarah Harte (Virginia), Niamh Callachand (Lisburn), Emma Rea (Cooke), Sinead Waites (Magherafelt), Hanna Farley (Magherafelt), Victoria Coulter (Bangor), Triese O’Callaghan (Donegal), Ashley Rodden (Carrick), Laura Davidson (Cooke), Nikki Dennison (Cooke), Shaunagh Devlin (Magherafelt), Kim Moxham (Ballyclare), Ashleigh Baxter (Lisburn).
BANBRIDGE OUT TO RETAIN ULSTER DEVELOPMENT SHIELD: Saturday will see Banbridge’s Under-14 squad enjoy home advantage as they attempt to retain the Ulster Development Shield they picked up last year with an emphatic win over Larne.
Clogher Valley provide the opposition this time around and Bann coaches Mark Fisher, Matthew Irvine and David Dodds are anticipating a much tougher battle to hold onto the trophy.
The Bann squad, led by centre Matthew Kerr, has had a comfortable passage to the final, easily disposing of the challenges of Ballyclare and Carrick. But their County Tyrone opposition this weekend have been taking some notable scalps and a tight encounter is expected.
Saturday’s game kicks off at Rifle Park at 10.15am and will be followed by the Ulster Under-16 and Under-18 Plate Finals.
– Match Schedule – Rifle Park –
U-14s – Clogher Valley v Banbridge, 10.15am
U-16s – Enniskillen v Portadown/Rainey, 12.00pm
U-18s – Virginia v Coleraine, 1.30pm
‘HINCH’S LINDSAY CARS TOURNAMENT A HUGE SUCCESS: The third annual Lindsay Cars Tournament was held at Ballymacarn Park, the home of Ballynahinch RFC, last Saturday with over 500 youngsters from Dromore, Banbridge and Ballynahinch competing from P1 to Year 12.
With the dry weather, the pitches were hard but this did not deter the players for displaying their skills to great effect.
In 2005, Dromore hosted the first tournament and managed to win event on a try count. Last season, Banbridge played host but lost out when ‘Hinch claimed the silverware with a narrow points win. This year Bann made amends – they tied on points with hosts ‘Hinch but won the trophy on tries scored.
Ulster and Ireland’s scrum half Isaac Boss was the star guest at Ballymacarn Park at last weekend’s event, along with the ever popular Sparky the Ulster Rugby Mascot who signed autographs, distributed gifts and met all the parents and supporters.