Wardrop fires Ballyclare to Junior Cup win over Clogher

Ballyclare defeated Qualifying 1 side Clogher Valley 8-6 in the quarter-final of the Junior Cup. Photo: Freddie Parkinson
Ballyclare defeated Qualifying 1 side Clogher Valley 8-6 in the quarter-final of the Junior Cup. Photo: Freddie Parkinson

Adam Wardrop’s eight points for Ballyclare caused a shock result, when favourites Clogher Valley were knocked out of the Junior Cup on Saturday.

This quarter-final clash attracted the largest crowd for quite some time to The Cloughan, and both sets of supporters were treated to a tense low scoring tussle that ended with the hosts clinging on to an 8-6 lead.

In the dying moments Clogher were camped on the home line, where only super defence by the back row trio - Gary Weatherup, Jordan McKinstry and Willie Logan - prevented a Tyrone victory.

Home coach Bob Young made several changes for this crucial clash, with scrum-half Colin Morrow switched to the number 10 shirt to the exclusion of Niall Lawther.

With Robert Smith and Gareth Byers both ruled out because of injury, Gary Clotworthy came in at full-back, with Wardrop promoted from the 2nd XV taking over at the base of the scrum, and these changes worked well.

As expected, the Qualifying League Section 1 side applied the early pressure, with wing-forward Wilson and centre Falconer prominent in early attacks, before scrum-half Best drew first blood with a penalty awarded for a handling offence at a ruck.

Not long afterwards the home fans were cheering when a Nathan Loughlin run to the 22 earned a scrum, from which Wardrop darted through for a brilliant solo try which he was unable to convert.

Another infringement at a ruck allowed Best to regain the lead with his second penalty, but first-half play ended in Clogher territory, where James Greer and Wardrop probed without success.

Clogher upped the pace at the start of the second session, but there was a decisive moment when play switched to the opposite end.

A Tyrone man was sin-binned, and while they were short-handed another penalty was conceded, allowing Wardrop to slot over what proved to be the winning three points.

Going in to the final quarter Clogher, now back to full strength, began to turn the screw, and they surprisingly opted not to take the kick at goal when awarded a penalty.

As it turned out a conversion would have secured a win, but Best kicked to the corner where the lineout was won by Ballyclare; substitute Michael Kirk gathered the ball and raced upfield, where lock Graham McKinstry was held up just short.

Clogher recovered to finish in the home 22, but the defence held out for a famous victory.

Clogher fans were magnanimous in defeat, stating that they reckoned that Ballyclare could hold their own with the top four in Qualifying 1.

Commenting a Ballyclare supporter said: “This was a fantastic win against a top Qualifying 1 team that is also in the quarter-final of the All-Ireland Junior Cup.”

He added: “Clogher are the seventh Qualifying 1 side that we have beaten in the past two seasons, and I feel that this will be our year for promotion, after having been pipped at the post twice recently.”

Ballyclare: G Clotworthy; J Greer, N Loughlin, D Crawford, J Reid; C Morrow, A Wardrop; A Boyd, A Wylie, D Lawther, R Boyd (c), G McKinstry, G Weatherup, J McKinstry, W Logan.

The match was sponsored by Tony Adams’ Highgate Auctions Ltd, Mallusk, and the ball was supplied by Past President Willie Shaw.

The Man of the Match award sponsored by Gareth Johnston was won by scrum-half Adam Wardrop.

Tony Turner was Ballyclare III’s undisputed Man of the Match when he scored a hat-trick of tries against Queen’s III at The Cloughan.

His two scores kept the hosts in contention at the break with the students leading 12-10.

Tony completed his treble after the interval, and Craig McCartney also weighed in with a touchdown, while Andrew Alexander converted both and added a penalty to take the total to 27 points, but it wasn’t enough with the visitors running out 28-27 winners.

At youth level Malone were the visitors to The Cloughan where the home Under-15s drew 14-14, while the Under-17s lost 22-10.

Saturday’s fixtures: 1st XV v Carrick, home; 3rd XV v Omagh III, away; 4th XV v Lisburn III, home.