Ballyclare welcome Larne teams for Hall Trophy

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This Saturday The Cloughan hosts the annual Ballyclare - Larne Hall Trophy clash. The Cup was presented to the Larne club a few years ago to promote the game between the local rivals, and it continues to be popular with players and supporters.

This time the Firsts and Seconds will go head-to-head, with the aggregate score determining the winner.

Ballyclare will be without three regulars from the pack: wing-forward Gary Weatherup, second row Robert Boyd and number eight, Michael Rainey - who are all off to Ballina with Ulster Juniors.

All three took part in friendlies against Coleraine and Rainey in preparation for the junior inter-provincial series which kicks off against Connacht on Saturday afternoon.

This trio also missed the trip to Mellon Park for Ballyclare’s fixture against Omagh Accies, who won 22-10.

Coach Bob Young had to make seven enforced changes with Jordan McKinstry and James Greer coming in straight from the Ballyclare High School side that reached the semi-final of the Schools’ Cup.

Forwards Andrew Wylie, Michael Stevenson and Paul Robinson were promoted from the 2nd XV, as was Stephen Beasant at centre.

In the absence of Niall Lawther, full-back Robert Smith switched to fly-half, with Gareth Byers making a welcome return from a long injury lay-off, donning number 15.

Ballyclare took the first quarter to settle and failed to take advantage of the gusting wind, so all they had to show for their efforts at half time was a Smith penalty, while the home side ran in two tries and added a penalty to lead 15-3 at the break.

Ballyclare improved in the second session and Byers was almost in, but from the ensuing scrum Willie Logan picked up and dived over for his side’s only score, which Smith goaled.

Several promising ‘Clare attacks were spoiled by poor handling, but Omagh made sure of the points with a late converted try.

Skipper Mo Finlay said McKinstry Greer showed great promise, and hopes they will join the club next season.

Robinson and Stevenson also impressed in the pack while Nathan Loughlin, who normally plays on the wing, put in some telling tackles at centre.

The 4th XV lost out in the Junior League Section 6 decider when they were beaten 46-25 by UUC II at The Cloughan.

The students turned round 15-6 ahead, John Wasson having kicked two penalties.

In the second half Stephen Bailie, Colin McGookin and Tony Turner crossed for scores, two of which were converted by Wasson.

The club’s AGM will be held at The Cloughan on Wednesday (April 24), and the annual dinner will be on Saturday, May 4.