Ballyclare Rugby Club skipper Robert Boyd says his side has “unfinished business” at Ravenhill ahead of the Junior Cup final, writes John Gillespie.
The Cloughan men face Ballynahinch II tonight (19:30) in their second trip to the home of Ulster Rugby in 2013. And they are determined to go one better than April’s Towns’ Cup final draw with City of Derry II.
Boyd says he’s honoured to captain a side brimming with team spirit and confidence, and while he admits they are rated as underdogs for the big match, he believes they are more than capable of springing a surprise.
“Ballyclare is a club very close to my heart and I’m very proud to represent it,” said the 27-year-old Straid man. “I have been a member of the squad for a number of years and right now is a good time. We have a lot of experience in the likes of Willie Logan and Collie Morrow. The two of them, in particular, are always there to offer a lot of support.”
On the road to Ravenhill the White Hare men, the current Qualifying 2 leaders, have already seen off the likes of Clogher Valley and Coleraine and the big second row says their success is built on hard work, committed training and camaraderie.
“I don’t think it’s a case of just one thing that has made us successful this year. There are plenty of factors.
“The coaching that Bob Young has brought to the club is very, very thorough and very detailed. His sessions are always interesting and varied and he creates a real buzz. Players look forward to training and we get good numbers out which is making it even more competitive and more beneficial for every one. So, without doubt, I think the training and the coaching has been a big thing for us.
“Equally as important is that we have a really good bunch of guys at the minute. There’s a really good team spirit. You go into the clubhouse after a game on a Saturday and the place is buzzing. There’s a real feelgood factor about the club. I’m going on to a pitch with 14 mates every Saturday and that’s a big thing when the going gets tough.”
Boyd admits Ballyclare take to field fearing no-one these days and says the confidence that winning matches breeds has been vital, especially when it’s backs-to-the-wall time.
“You just have to look at the quarter-final against Clogher Valley when we had to absorb huge amounts of pressure in that game,” he said.
“It was just the sheer determination of the boys that brought us over the line in that one. Had we been losing every week, the pressure we were under we probably would have succumbed and lost that game. But we are going out every week thinking: ‘We are going to win here’. That has got us results on a lot of occasions.”
That spirit and will to win will be vital if they are to get the better of ‘Hinch II - arguably the toughest team in the competition.
“Unfortunately we played them at the start of last season when we took a fairly inexperienced side to them and ended up taking a bit of a hiding on the day.
“But I don’t think that will play a factor this time around. We are a much-changed and a much better side now, and with the run we have been on, we will not fear them in the final.
“The Towns’ Cup final was a great day out for the whole club and at the end of the day we didn’t lose the game - the trophy is actually sitting in Ballyclare at the minute but we do possibly have a few regrets that we didn’t get over the line properly.
“We see the Junior Cup final as a bit of unfinished business. Hopefully we can bring the Cup home.”