Rugby enthusiasts from the Ballyclare area will likely be flocking to The Cloughan on Saturday afternoon for the Junior Cup Match of the Day.
Clogher Valley will be in town for a crucial quarter-final tie which features the leaders of Qualifying Leagues 1 and 2.
The Tyrone lads are firing on all cylinders, for as well as being in pole position in Q1, they have advanced to the quarter-final of the prestigious All-Ireland Junior Cup, so they will be dubbed odds-on favourites against the White Hare lads.
Club officials reckon this will be Ballyclare’s most difficult challenge in recent years, and a record crowd is expected to attend the pre-match refreshments.
Coach Bob Young will have to find replacements for full-back Robert Smith and winger Gareth Byers who are both out injured, so the team is likely to be selected from: A Wardrop, J Reid, J Greer, G Clotworthy, N Loughlin, D Clarke, JJ Baird, N Lawther, C Morrow, A Boyd, A Wylie, I Holmes, D Lawther, M Finlay, R Boyd (C), G McKinstry, G Weatherup, M Kirk, J McKinstry, W Logan.
Robert Boyd’s lads were scheduled to fulfil a league fixture in Strabane, but Saturday morning’s heavy rainfall left parts of the pitch waterlogged, so the match was postponed.
The 2nd XV had no fixture, so the spotlight switched to the 3rd XV who entertained Ballynahinch V in a Junior League Section 3 clash, but they failed to sparkle.
An Andrew Alexander penalty kept the hosts in contention at 5-3 at the interval, but then the ‘Hinch lads added two unanswered scores to win quite easily 15-3.
Clarke McCartney and James Bell impressed in the pack, while Andy Watson, James Logan and Luke Ireland were the pick of the backs.
The 4th XV travelled to Lurgan with only 14 players, but turned in a fine performance in losing 5-0 against Lurgan II.
Skipper Mark Fox, Matt Dailly, Tony Turner, Mark McGarvey and Michael Stevenson each put in a good shift, while former 1st XV winger, Mark Weatherup, made a welcome return following a lengthy injury, and he was unfortunate not to get his name on the scorecard when he was help up just short of the line.
Saturday’s fixtures: 1st XV v Clogher Valley, home, Junior Cup; 2nd XV v Malone III, away; 3rd XV v Queen’s III, home; 4th XV v Dungannon IV, home.