ALL IRELAND LEAGUE STRUCTURAL REVIEW
That perennial subject that comes up for discussion at this time of the season. It revolves around how can we integrate the professional game and the amateur game on the island of Ireland. Is it possible to find a solution that accommodates all parties. Reading what Brendan Fanning had to say in the Sunday Independent there does not appear to be a consensus amongst the four Provincial Governing bodies that oversee the Domestic game and their partners in the Professional game.
Societal changes have impacted on the availability of players to train and play with the residual damage that has become a legacy of over investment in a club game that was primarily set up to facilitate players to play amateur rugby. The skeletons are scattered throughout Ireland of the damage the All Ireland league has left in its trail in over ambitious amateur clubs trying to mirror the professional game. You only have to scan the provinces to list the clubs. In Ulster they include Instonians, Portadown, CIYMS and Ards who have dropped out of the AIL. Former Section 1 teams Belfast Harlequins and Dungannon are struggling to keep their place in Div 2B with one or both in danger of dropping down to the 5th Division of the AIL next season. Ards now play their rugby in Div 2 of the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship. The club have stabilised in recent seasons and are now able to field three adult sides. The work being done at Youth level is expected to produce players to increase the player base and sustain the clubs future.
In Leinster you look at Junior 1A - three former AIL clubs are propping up the league. They include Bective Rangers, Dundalk and Boyne. I see another former AIL club Suttonians are topping Junior 1B this season.
In Munster Richmond, Waterpark and Kanturk are former AIL clubs in Junior 1. In Connacht former AIL clubs Connemara and Creggs are making a comeback as they top Junior 1A. One of them will hope to follow in the footsteps of Ballina who top Div 2C after returning to the AIL this season.
What is noticeable is the new emerging clubs that are challenging the status quo in Ireland. In Ulster Ballynahinch, Banbridge and City of Armagh are former Junior clubs who play alongside Malone and Ballymena in Div 1B. When you look at Div 1 of the Kukri Championship league you will see Ballyclare, Dromore and Grosvenor alongside Instonians challenging for the Div 1 league title.
It is the same in Leinster with Enniscorthy, Gorey, Wicklow, Kilkenny and Ashbourne filling the top five places ahead of Bective, Dundalk and Boyne. In Munster you have Clonmel, Newcastle West, Bandon and Kilfeacle RFC. Connacht are the only province where you will see former AIL clubs making an impact this season. From what I have learned this reversal is all down to the work being done at Mini and Youth level to develop their own players. Sadly when you see what is happening to former Section 1 club Galwegians who now prop up Div 2A with their seconds bottom of Junior 1A you have to ask the question what has happened at this club.
The tone of the discussion and debate on the All Ireland League has not changed. Players coaches and club officials are torn between reverting back to Provincial leagues for the teams in Section 2 and enhancing the opportunities for both the clubs and the professional game to benefit from a strong and competitive league structure in Section 1 incorporating two leagues. My view is that the current structures in Section 1 are already in place to provide for the clubs who want to play at this level and support and provide game time for players from the four professional provincial teams. It is now time to make the decision to go forward with the existing two leagues in Section 1 and review them before the end of the 2019/20 season if there is a desire to reduce the leagues down to eight teams.
For the teams in Section 2 of the All Ireland league you have to ask the question what do these clubs get from competing in these three Divisions. Would these clubs not be better competing in a Senior league within their province where they can compete for league and Cup honours. In Ulster we should be saying that the Ulster AIL teams in Section 1 should focus on the AIL league and a newly restructured All Ireland Bateman Cup for their competitive programme each season. The remaining Ulster AIL teams can form an eight team Senior league that can contest the Stevenson Shield and the First Trust Senior Cup each season. The winners of the Ulster Senior League would compete in a Round Robin Playoff with the other three Provincial Senior league winners for a place in the All Ireland League. Is there a case for a Playoff between the runners up in the Round Robin and the 9th place team in Div 1B to ensure only competitive teams with strong playing structures compete in the AIL league. The IRFU went to great trouble to put in place a participation criteria for teams and clubs competing in the All Ireland league. What happened to its compliance.
In Ulster I look at the promotion of former AIL teams Bangor and Omagh to the AIL in recent seasons. Bangor returned to the AIL in 2016/17 after a clean sweep of Junior trophies in the season 2015/16. They were expected to push on in their return to the AIL. The opposite has been the case. In their first two seasons in Div 2C they narrowly avoided relegation and once again this season they need league points to secure their league position. Omagh made the playoffs in 2017/18 after returning to the AIL and once again are targeting the playoffs with in form Ballina favourites to win the league. The question I have to ask is will Bangor and Omagh be able to progress to section 1. Would these two clubs not be better competing in a revamped Ulster Provincial League. Looking back over the last decade City of Armagh are the only Ulster team to have made progress into Section 1. They returned to the AIL in 2010/11 and secured successive promotions from 2014/15 to take their place in Div 1B in 2018/19. I believe the only other team to replicate City of Armagh are Naas during the last decade. What it tells me is that it takes a well organised rugby club with the playing resources to compete in Section 1. It is also worth noting that City of Armagh won the Stevenson Shield in 2016/17 and 2017/18 along with the First Trust Senior Cup in 2017/18.
Player welfare has to be a priority for clubs in managing their availability to play rugby throughout the season with the age profile decreasing each season. How many players over 25 years play competitive rugby today. Does this not tell us that the current five division structure in the AIL is not working. I keep hearing that time spent travelling in the AIL is a factor that discourages players playing All Ireland League rugby. Discussions at present are very much focused on the All Ireland league and the 50 teams who compete in the five Divisions. I think it is also important we don't forget to ensure the playing structures below the All Ireland league are designed and structured to provide opportunities for new and emerging clubs to progress into the All Ireland league. Club officials are telling me financial and budgetary management are the key focus for the clubs going forward. They are setting priorities in developing clubhouse facilities and playing surfaces along with creating partnerships in Schools and working on Youth development to increase playing numbers within their clubs.
The days of clubs trying to buy success have resulted in heartbreak for overly ambitious clubs. Now it is a case of clubs and teams playing in leagues that are competitive for their players. I just cant understand clubs wanting to play in leagues where they struggle to win matches. Should prestige and standing within the club game override what level your players are capable of playing at. Rugby is about creating an environment where players of all abilities can play and enjoy their rugby and be competitive. I would have to say that Ulster as a province needs to look seriously at its playing structures and playing template. We are asking too much from amateur players in a much changed social and economic environment. There has to be a balance between playing and resting players. The recent weather in Ulster has once again highlighted how minimal disruption to our playing schedule forces teams into playing three matches in eight days. This is nothing new to the province of Ulster with successful teams and their playing squads being penalised for competing for league and Cup honours each season. Is it worth considering a winter break for all teams. I just think we need a fresh approach to sustaining the Domestic game.
ULSTER RUGBY OPENING TRAINING SESSION BANGOR RFC ON FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2019
Bangor RFC will welcome the Ulster Rugby squad for an opening training session at Upritchard Park on Friday the 8th February 2019. All supporters are welcome to attend.
10.30AM Open Training Session
11.30AM: Signing Session
11.45AM: Players to assist coaching sessions
12.30PM: Event closed.
IRISH STUDENTS v SCOTTISH STUDENTS
Queens University RFC will host the meeting of these two teams at Dub Lane on Sunday the 10th February 2019 with a 2.30PM kick off. Queens University 1st xv Captain David Whitten will start in the second row with University of Ulster and Ballynahinch 1st xv player Conall Boomer starting at number 8. Two Queens players Rory Bell and Alexander Clarke are included amongst the replacements.
Lets see the rugby community coming out to get behind the team and cheer them on to victory.
RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP
Sadly the weather only permitted one of the eight second round fixtures to take place on Saturday at the Tom Simms Memorial Playing Fields between Div 1 Carrickfergus and Div 2 side Randalstown. The visitors staged a comeback to defeat Carrickfergus 17 - 13 with their out half Martin Connolly scoring twelve of his teams points in a man of the match performance. City of Armagh seconds had progressed at the expense of Strabane who conceded their match. On Monday night Ballymena seconds were too strong for struggling Coleraine at Eaton Park winning 50 - 0. Dungannon seconds will play Enniskillen at Stevenson Park on Wednesday night with the three outstanding ties to be played on Saturday. Portadown have been awarded the match against Larne that was scheduled for Saturday.
Draw was made for the Towns Cup Quarters Finals on Tuesday night.
Clogher Valley/Limavady v Portadown
Enniskillen v Ballymena seconds
City of Armagh seconds v Dromore/Banbridge seconds
Ballynahinch seconds/Ballyclare v Randalstown
Fixtures to be played on or before the 23rd February 2019
PITCH INSPECTIONS AND POSTPONEMENTS
The Towns Cup second Rd was not without controversy last weekend. I like many others travelled to Ballymacarn Park to watch the Ballynahinch seconds v Ballyclare match last Saturday only to discover that the match referee who travelled from Kildare was not satisfied the playing surface was safe to play on. The decision was taken at 2.30PM to postpone the match. It was clear in hindsight that the decision to postpone the match should have been taken earlier. If this had been a AIL match an early pitch inspection would have deemed the pitch unplayable. I can respect the efforts of Ballynahinch RFC to have the game played. The referee made the right call in the interest of player safety.
At Chambers Park there was a dispute over whether the playing surface was safe to play on for Portadown and Larne. The Larne players took the decision the pitch was unplayable to play on after the match official deemed it playable. The postponement was discussed by the CMC on Tuesday night who awarded the match to Portadown with no financial penalty being imposed on Larne.
What lessons if any will we learn from these postponements. Has there to be a better protocol put in place to avoid repetitions in the future. Should we not learn from the protocols that have been put in place by the AIL committee on pitch inspections. Player safety is paramount in these situations.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
The postponement of seven Towns Cup matches last Saturday will impact on the league programme this weekend. Games involving Cooke v Ballyclare and Dromore v Enniskillen have been postponed. With the league programme due to be completed on the 23rd March there are few spare weekends. The Quarters Finals of the River Rock Towns Cup and the McCrea Cup are due to be played on the 23rd February followed by the semi finals on the 16th March. It could prove a busy period for Ballyclare and Dromore if they progress to the latter stages of these competitions. It will inevitably lead to mid week games with the league winners entering the Round Robin Playoffs on the 30th March.
There are three league games on this week with Portadown playing Instonians and Grosvenor hosting Carrickfergus at Gibson Park with Coleraine welcoming CIYMS to Rugby Avenue. Instonians have the opportunity to replace leaders Ballyclare at the top of the league with a win at Portadown with Ballyclare playing a Towns Cup match at Ballynahinch. Grosvenor are still targeting 4th place and a place in the AIL Junior Cup next season with Carrickfergus looking to bounce back from their Towns Cup defeat to Randalstown. The game between Coleraine and CIYMS is crucial for both teams. One point separates the two teams in 9th and 10th place.
With the league games between Limavady v Ballymoney and Randalstown and Clogher Valley postponed there remains three league games on this week with Lisburn v Lurgan at Blaris in a local derby and promotion chasing Academy looking to pick up maximum points at UUC to replace Limavady and Clogher Valley at the top of the league. Ards travel to Larne hoping to continue their push to finish in 5th place. UUC are two points behind 9th place Lisburn in 10th place and are in urgent need of league points to avoid finishing in the automatic relegation place. Lisburn will find it difficult to pick up points against newly promoted Lurgan who have impressed after strong performances against league leaders Limavady.
The top two teams Donaghadee and Monaghan are expected to pick up maximum points when they play Cavan and BHSFP this weekend with Donaghadee having a 12 point advantage over Monaghan with six games remaining. Monaghan will be travelling to BHSFP two weeks running when they return next week to play a Gordon West Cup Quarter Final.
RESULTS/ TEAM LISTS WEEKEND SATURDAY 2ND FEBRUARY 2019
RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP SECOND ROUND
Carrickfergus 13 Randalstown 17
Carrickfergus team: 1. Joel Bell, 2. Alan Whitley, 3. Paul Greenaway, 4. Chris Rodgers, 5. Chris Taylor, 6. Ryan Gibson, 7. Ross Marsden, 8. Andrew Kinkaid, 9. Conor Cambridge, 10. Jack Burton, 11. Brian Alexander, 12. Jonny Sheriff, 13. Fionn McCormick, 14. David Moore, 15, David Carse, 16. Neil Hastings, 17. Rab Williams.
Points scorers: Jonny Sheriff, Conor Cambridge 1 x try each, Fionn McCormick 1 x pen.
Randalstown team: 1. Neil Foster, 2. Scott Stevenson, 3. Gary Hume, 4. Kyle Hetherington, 5. Dean McCroary, 6. Peter Knowles, 7. Ian Hume, 8. David Smith (Capt), 9. Tommy Holland, 10. Martin Connolly, 11. Jack Dempster, 12. Ryan O'Dea, 13. Jordan Foster, 14. Eoin Letters, 15. Michael Smith, 16. Marty O'Neill, 17. Jonny Fullerton.
Points scorers: Jack Dempster 1 x try, Martin Connolly 1 x try, 1 x pen and 2 x cons.
Strabane v City of Armagh seconds. Conceded by Strabane.
Ballymena seconds 50 Coleraine 0
Ballymena team: 1. Andrew Ferguson, 2. James Taggart, 3. Houston Bonnar, 4. Jonny Browne, 5. Mark Foster, 6. Ryan Mattison, 7. Dominic Gallagher, 8. Matthew Dick, 9.Jack Fleming, 10. Steven Shaw, 11. Jonny Rossborough, 12. James Wheeler, 13. Paddy James, 14. Jack Lewis, 15. Sam Millar, 16. Ashton Logan, 17. Reuben Russell.
Points scorers: Matthew Dick, Paddy James 2 x tries each, James Taggart, Andrew Ferguson, Ryan Mattison, Dominic Gallagher 1 x try each, Sam Millar 5 x cons.
Portadown v Larne. Match awarded to Portadown.
Dungannon seconds 5 Enniskillen 22
Dungannon seconds team: 1. Matthew Stockdale, 2. Jamie McNeill, 3. James Gamble, 4. Lewis McCrabbe, 5. Peter Doran, 6. Joseph Cashel, 7. Adam Milligan, 8. James McMahon, 9. Robert McLean, 10. Conor McGeough, 11. Andrew Lee, 12. Andrew Mills, 13. Peter Cashel, 14. Adam Roache, 15. Caolan Mulgrew, 16. Nathan Smyth, 17. Daniel Mikolajczyk .
Points scorers: Adam Roache 1 x try.
Enniskillen team: 1. Gavin Warrington, 2.Ryan Cathcart (Capt), 3. Gareth Beatty, 4. Jamie Kelly, 5. David Buchanan, 6. Jack Rutledge, 7. James Carleton, 8. Ricky Lee, 9. Jarleth Maguire, 10. Adam Lendrum, 11. John Arnold, 12. Tyler Millar, 13. Mark O'Shea, 14. Gavin Parke, 15. Ashley Finlay, 16. Alan Ferguson, 17. Gary Thorton.
Points scorers: Jack Rutledge, John Arnold, Tyler Millar 1 x try each, Adam Lendrum 2 x cons and 1 x pen
Ballynahinch seconds v Ballyclare
Clogher Valley v Limavady
Dromore v Banbridge seconds
Dungannon seconds v Enniskillen
Portadown v Larne
Ballymena seconds v Coleraine
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Grosvenor v Cooke. Postponed.
FIRST TRUST SENIOR CUP FINAL
CITY OF ARMAGH V BALLYMENA. PLAYED FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2019 KO 7.30PM
Last season City of Armagh won the First Trust Senior Cup for the first time defeating Ballymena 17 - 13. On the back of this defeat Ballymena had lost the 2015/16 Final 19 - 10 against Ballynahinch. Their last win came when they defeated Rainey OB 25 - 6 in the 2012/13.
Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham: Injuries rule out Stephen Mulholland and Bruce Houston for the Cup Final. Winger Jordan Foster is ineligible to play. After the two recent AIL defeats against Ballynahinch and Buccaneers the coach is anxious to see the team bring the First Trust Senior Cup back to Eaton Park. He believes his team have nothing to fear against the current Cup Holders. Both he and the players are confident they can get the win. What he wants is his team to play to the their full potential and perform on the Kingspan pitch. The team have trained well during the week with that cohesiveness and continuity coming through in the squad. Everybody in the club is excited about the Final and the opportunity it presents for the players. It would be so nice to bring the trophy back to the clubhouse. Things are going well in the club . The key is for the 1st xv to start putting wins together with the players enjoying their rugby.
City of Armagh team: 1. Paul Mullan, 2. Andrew Smyth, 3. Philip Fletcher, 4. Josh McKinley, 5. Peter Starrett, 6. James Hanna, 7. Robert Whitten, 8. Neil Faloon, 9. Harry Doyle, 10. Cormac Fox, 11. Shea O'Brien, 12.Chris Cousens, 13. Chris Colvin (Capt), 14. Andrew Willis, 15. Ryan Purvis, 16. Jonny Morton, 17. Oisin Kiernan, 18. Nigel Simpson, 19. Evin Crummie, 20. Jonny Pollock
Ballymena team: 1. Nacho Clandero Crespo, 2. Andrew Ferguson, 3. Chris Cundell, 4. David Whann, 5. Connor Smyth, 6. JJ McKee, 7. Marcus Rea (Capt), 8. James Gallagher, 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Timothy Small, 11. Darrell Montgomery, 12. Glenn Baillie, 13. Matthew Norris, 14. Jonny McMullan, 15. Rodger McBurney, 16. Jonny Spence, 17. Josh Bill, 18. James Taggart, 19. Connor White, 20 Dean Reynolds.
RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP SECOND ROUND
Dungannon seconds v Enniskillen. Played Wednesday 6th February 2019 KO 8PM. Enniskillen won 22 - 5
Clogher Valley v Limavady
Portadown v Larne. Match awarded to Portadown
Ballynahinch seconds v Ballyclare
Dromore v Banbridge seconds
Ballymena seconds v Coleraine. Played Monday 4th February 2019 KO 7.30PM. Ballymena won 50 - 0
Clogher Valley v Limavady
Clogher Valley team: 1. Philip Hopper, 2. Kyle Cobane, 3. Neil Henderson, 4. Eugene McKenna, 5. Michael Treanor (Capt), 6. David Sharkey. 7. Aaron Dunwoody, 8. Ryan Wilson, 9. Mark Ellis, 10. Paul Armstrong, 11. Fleming Agnew, 12. Rodney Bennett, 13. Reece Smyton, 14. Josh Coulter, 15. Ewan Haire, 16. Josh Coulter, 17. Mark McKenna.
Graeme Eastwood Limavady Head coach: His squad are carrying a few injuries this week with the coach sticking to his policy of blooding young talent in the Cup competitions this season. He is confident his young and talented squad can get a result at the Cran this week.
These two teams have already met in the league this season with Limavady winning 25 - 3 at the John Hunter Memorial Playing Fields. Both teams are due to meet at the Cran on the 30th March in a match that could decide who is promoted to Div 1 this season.
Ballynahinch seconds v Ballyclare
Ballynahinch seconds team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Kelvin Hamilton, 4. Tom Martin, 5. Brian Howard, 6. Graeme Mckitterick, 7. Aaron Hall, 8. Gareth Gill, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Matthew Norton (Capt), 11. Jonny McCoubrey, 12. Robin Harte, 13. George Pringle. 14. Aaron Ferris, 15. James Mc Briar, 16. Jerry Cronin, 17. Joe Bingham/Stuart Elwood/Davy Harris.
Ballyclare team: 1. Dean Jones, 2. Matthew Coulter, 3. Al Boyd, 4. Ryan Tweed, 5. Grant Bartley (Capt), 6. Aaron Playfair, 7. Gary Weatherup, 8. Dave Clarke, 9. Andy Eastop, 10. Niall Lawther, 11. Michael Kirk, 12. Joel McBride, 13. Robbie Reid, 14. Owen Kirk, 15. Gary Clotworthy, 16. Jordan Birnie/ Jack Black. 17. Ross Patterson.
Ballyclare Head coach Mike McKeever and 1st xv Manager Stephen Crawford asked me to include a note on the passing of Mr Paul Gamble a former Ballyclare RFC mini coach, club rugby supporter, Ulster and Irish Rugby fan and father to one of his 1st xv players at Ballyclare High School. It has been a shock to all at Ballyclare High School and Ballyclare RFC. The thoughts of everyone go to his wife Michelle, Son Jack and family. Paul Gamble had many friends within rugby and all would agree he was a complete gentleman.
Dromore v Banbridge seconds
Jonny Cullen Dromore 1st xv Head coach: He is sticking to the same side for the match with Banbridge seconds. On the injury front the coach is hoping to have scrum half Lee Steenson available for their crucial league matches in March.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1
Coleraine (10) v CIYMS (9)
Cooke (5) v Ballyclare (1) Postponed
Dromore (3) v Enniskillen (8) Postponed
Grosvenor (4) v Carrickfergus (7)
Portadown (6) v Instonians (2)
Coleraine v CIYMS
Head coach Benjy Van Der Byl is hoping to have a few of his injured players available this week with selection to be finalised on Thursday night.
CIYMS Head coach Gareth Fry: The coach felt his team were unlucky not to see out their recent 29 - 27 defeat to Instonians at Belmont conceding a late score to lose the match. It was a really gutsy performance from all 17 players. Unfortunately seven of the players from the match day squad against Instonians are unavailable this week. He is still able to field a competitive team that maybe lacks confidence and cohesion at this time. It is a massive game for both teams this weekend. Coleraine is not an easy place to visit at any time but like ourselves they are chasing a couple of wins to keep them safe this season. Both teams would never have thought at the beginning of the season they would be occupying the bottom two places in Div 1. But it shows the competitive side of this league. You lose a couple of games and you put yourself under pressure. The coach has been really impressed with the performances of the team post Christmas . He is hoping they continue this weekend.
When these two teams met at Belmont on the 6th October 2018 Coleraine outscored CIYMS by six tries to four to win 36 - 29.
Grosvenor v Carrickfergus
Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford: The coach has to deal with a number of late fitness tests before finalising selection on Thursday night. Both Allen McCluggage and Stuart McIIwaine remain unavailable for another two weeks. Full back Mark Johnston is available and will come into contention this week. The scoreline flattered his team the last time they played Carrickfergus.
Carrickfergus Head coach Warren McClean: Again the coach will have to make a few changes due to injury and unavailability. He is looking his team to bounce back from their defeat against Randalstown . He believes they are capable of causing an upset against a very fit and young Grosvenor side.
When these two teams met at the Tom Simms Memorial Grounds on the 13th October 2018 Grosvenor won 31 - 13.
Portadown v Instonians
Portadown team list : 1. Mark Henderson, 2. Rab Reid, 3. Matthew Davison, 4. Matt Stevens, 5. Danny Alexander, 6. James Wright, 7. Gary Hall, 8. Lloyd Gravatt, 9. Brian Forrestal, 10. Brett Flack, 11. Jack Orr, 12. Jordan Taylor, 13. Josh Matchett, 14. William Holden, 15. Tom Ceasar, 16. Aaron McMaster, 17. Aaron Abraham.
Portadown assistant coach Mark Neilly: He feels if his team play to their potential the result will take care of itself. It is all about the Portadown pack matching up to the Instonians forwards.
Instonians Head coach John Andress: He is able to pick from a nearly fully fit squad for this weekend. His only absentee is Hooker Neil Saulters.
When the two teams met at Shawsbridge on the 13th October 2018 Instonians won a closely contested game 14 - 10.
PREMIERSHIP SECOND XV LEAGUE
Ballymena seconds (4) v Banbridge seconds (6) Postponed
City of Armagh seconds (2) v Ballynahinch seconds (1) Postponed
Malone seconds (5) v Omagh seconds (3)
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 2
Larne (8) v Ards (6)
Limavady (1) v Ballymoney (5) Postponed
Lisburn (9) v Lurgan (7)
Randalstown (4) v Clogher Valley (2) Postponed
UUC (10) v Academy (3)
Larne v Ards
Ards scored six tries when they defeated Larne 37 - 3 at Hamilton Park on the 27th October 2018.
Lisburn v Lurgan
Lisburn Director of Rugby Mike Knowles: Acknowledges the importance of the match for his Lisburn side. The coaches are hoping to have Adam Jameson, Ryan Hill and Jake Bebbington returning from injury this week. Epi Ratu is likely to start after being unavailable for several weeks. Back row forward Noel Hooke remains unavailable due to injury.
Lurgan Assistant coach Jason Wallace: Lurgan are expected to be similar to the team that lost 19 -15 away to league leaders Limavady two weeks ago. The only change will be Daniel Lyness who is ruled out with a fractured collar bone.
When these two teams met at Pollack Park on the 27th October 2018 Lurgan won a close game 14 - 10.
UUC v Academy
When these two teams met at Roughfort on the 27th October 2018 Academy scored nine tries in a 55 - 8 win.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 3
BHSFP (10) V Monaghan (2)
Donaghadee (1) v Cavan (11)
Letterkenny (6) v Newry (5)
Ophir (12) v Civil Service (9)
Strabane (7) v Holywood (4)
Virginia (8) v PSNI (3)
Enjoy your rugby this weekend.
Updated 16:09 - 7 Feb 2019 by Roger Corbett