Scrum-half Colin Morrow is confident Ballyclare Rugby Club have what it takes to claim their sixth Towns’ Cup title as they go up against City of Derry II at Ravenhill this afternoon (2:30pm).
The bustling number nine, alongside forward Willie Logan, was part of the last White Hare squad to lift the trophy nine years ago, and he sees enough quality in the current crop to believe the class of 2013 can produce the goods when it comes to crunch time in front of a big crowd at the home of Ulster Rugby.
“We are confident we can win it, but it might depend on what sort of team they [City of Derry] put out. But, yes, we have a very good squad with plenty of depth. We’ll have seven strong replacements on hand to use if and when we need them. It’s not as if we are going into the game with 15 good players and a few sketchy subs; we will have a good squad of 22 up there,” he said.
“As a club, we have been there before and we’ve won the Towns’ Cup. We have a good, young team with the majority of the guys in their mid-20s.”
Morrow, now 32, lined up in the 2004 final as part of a side which boasted ex-Ireland international Maurice Field and former Scotland winger Shaun Longstaff in their ranks. And the club stalwart has the treasured memory of landing the decisive score to clinch a 30-26 victory against Coleraine.
“It was a very different side back then, and I was probably one of the younger guys in the team. Most of the squad were probably in their mid-30s at the time. We went into the final as underdogs. I remember we were leading up until half time and after that they came back and managed to take the lead. I was sin-binned and when I came back on to the field I was lucky enough to score the winning try,” he recalled.
With Ballyclare’s dream of a Qualifying 2 title push now largely out of their hands following the recent heartbreaking defeat to rivals Bangor, reaching the final has come as a welcome distraction. And getting their hands on the silverware could be the perfect way to put the gloss on what has to be regarded as a successful year for Bob Young’s men.
Their route to the showpiece game began at the turn of 2013 with a straightforward 45-0 win over Ards II, before seeing off Qualifying 1 side Donaghadee 8-3 in early February. Then came a 27-3 quarter-final success over hard-hitting Dromore before a 19-13 away win against Omagh Accies.
Added Morrow: “I didn’t play in the Donaghdee match, but from what I hear we deserved the win and we always seemed to be in control. I think we stepped our game up because we were playing against stronger opposition than we are used to.
“We then took on Dromore in the quarters and they are notorious for having a big pack. They were camped on our line in the first half, but our defence held strong. It was one-sided in the end, but we lost our centre Gary Clotworthy to injury in that match.
“Against Omagh, for whatever reason, maybe the long journey, it took us a while to get into the swing of things. But we managed to control the game and came out as winners.”
Their eye-catching league form should stand ‘Clare good stead as they take to the biggest stage in local rugby on Monday. And Morrow says any pre-match concerns about playing in such a big tie will only serve to help fire the team up as they ready themselves for Ravenhill.
“No doubt there will be plenty of nerves on the day, but I think that will help in our preparation for the match. I don’t think playing there will phase any of the guys.
“Derry will bring a big, mobile pack which will rumble up the middle. In the last few weeks we have come up against big packs against sides like Bangor and Dromore and our defence had held firm. As long as we can make sure our defence is doing the job, it’s just a case of taking our chances and putting them away.”