Ballyclare warm up for Towns’ Cup test with victory over Enniskillen

Enniskillen's Donagh O'Callaghan stops Ballyclare's Gary Weatherup in his tracks.
Enniskillen's Donagh O'Callaghan stops Ballyclare's Gary Weatherup in his tracks.

The biggest crowd of the season is expected at The Cloughan on Saturday when Clogher Valley come seeking revenge in the Towns’ Cup.

Back in November the Qualifying League Section 1 leaders came a cropper in Ballyclare in the Junior Cup, and they will surely be seeking to make amends in this quarter-final.

The Tyrone men have the pedigree; in addition to being in pole position in Section 1, they have reached the final of the prestigious All-Ireland Junior Cup, and will be in no mood to fall to the Section 2 side for the second time.

On Saturday Bob Young’s men continued their triumphant march towards the Qualifying 2 title with a comprehensive win against Enniskillen.

So dominant were the visitors at Mullaghmeen that they had secured the bonus point at the interval, when they turned round 31 points up, before going on to complete a 38-10 rout.

With two changes - winger Nathan Loughlin replacing Adam Wardrop, and wing-forward Willie Logan in for Jordan McKinstry - Ballyclare were on the front foot from the start in surprisingly good weather conditions under floodlights, despite having encountered heavy rainfall on the journey.

Chris Coburn opened the scoring with a try converted by Robert Smith, after linking with Gary Weatherup and Logan.

Five minutes later the pack drove in to the home 22 where Weatherup crossed for an unconverted score.

The hosts struggled to get out of their own half and eventually conceded a third touchdown when Niall Lawther’s kick to the corner was gathered by Coburn who created space for scrum-half Colin Morrow to cross for a score that Smith converted.

A Loughlin thrust culminated in the pack driving forward for Weatherup and skipper Robert Boyd setting it up for Logan to go in for a score, with Smith adding the extras.

Just before the interval Morrow doubled his personal tally and made sure of the valued bonus point following a break by centre David Crawford, to make the half time score 31-0.

Only courageous tackling by the home defence prevented Weatherup and Coburn from increasing the lead early in the second session, but they were unable to prevent Niall Lawther from opening his account after receiving from Coburn.

Full credit to the home side who never gave up and deservedly prevented the whitewash with scores by centre O’Callaghan and impressive 19-year-old number eight Alex Gormley.

This win extended Ballyclare’s 100 per cent record at the summit, where they have pulled well clear of main rivals Omagh and Academy.

Ballyclare: R Smith; N Loughlin, D Crawford, J Reid, J Greer; N Lawther, C Morrow; A Boyd, I Holmes, D Lawther, R Boyd (C), G McKinstry, G Weatherup, W Logan, C Coburn.

The 2nd XV were no match for undefeated Junior League Section 1 leaders Omagh II who won 45-3 at Mellon Park.

At youth level against Ballynahinch the Under-17s won 32-3, and the Under-15s won 12-0.

Fixtures

Ballyclare v Clogher Valley; Ballyclare II v Malone III; Belfast Harlequins III v Ballyclare III; Ballyclare IV v Lurgan II.