Ballyclare one step away from Towns’ Cup final

Ballyclare cruised into the semi-final of the Towns' Cup with a 27-3 win over Dromore.
Ballyclare cruised into the semi-final of the Towns' Cup with a 27-3 win over Dromore.

Ballyclare RFC will take on Omagh Accies in the last four of the Towns’ Cup (March 16).

Last Saturday’s stunning 27-3 win over Qualifying 1 opponents Dromore means the Cloughan men are just one step away from the final.

The game was only minutes old when home centre Gary Clotworthy had to retire injured. He had recently returned to action after having been side-lined for several months. All associated with the club wish him a full recovery.

His replacement Gareth Byers came on to the left wing, with Nathan Loughlin moving inside, where, in partnership, with Stuart Cusack, he produced one of his best performances of the season.

Immediately after the restart Robert Smith opened the scoring when he knocked over a fourth-minute penalty, following an offside.

Ballyclare soon increased their lead when right winger Mark Weatherup raced in for a converted score before Smith added his second penalty to give his side a healthy 13-0 lead.

When Ballyclare forward Willie Logan was sent to the sin bin, Dromore threatened to take advantage of their numerical superiority, but were denied by some tenacious tackling.

Following this period of pressure all they had to show for their efforts was a penalty slotted over by scrum-half Steenson.

After the interval fly-half Niall Lawther directed operations with some quality tactical kicking and handling, while the speed of wingers Byers and Mark Weatherup caused all sorts of problems.

Several Lawther runs stretched the Dromore defence with Mark Weatherup, Gary Weatherup and Colly Morrow all being stopped close to the line. Loughlin fared better when he took a pass from Lawther and crossed for a try that Smith converted.

Even when Ballyclare were reduced to 14 men with Michael Rainey in the sin bin, it was no surprise when another Lawther run with support from the pack created space for Graeme McKinstry to go in for a rare try, with Smith completing the scoring with the conversion that took his personal tally to 12 points.

Ballyclare: R Smith; M Weatherup, S Cusack, G Clotworthy (G Byers), N Loughlin; N Lawther (C), C Morrow; A Boyd, A Wylie, R Henderson (M Finlay), G McKinstry, R Boyd, W Logan, G Weatherup, M Rainey.