ALL IRELAND LEAGUE
Malone and Banbridge top Div 1B with two points separating the two teams. Both teams meet at Gibson Park on Saturday with potentially 12 Ulster players involved in the game. It has all the ingredients to be a thrilling encounter with so much at stake for both teams. Ballynahinch will be hoping to maintain their title challenge with a win against Old Wesley. Both teams are level on points in 4th and 5th place. Again spectators should be treated to another entertaining game at Ballymacarn Park. First Trust Senior Cup holders City of Armagh - fresh from retaining the Cup take on a much improved Buccaneers team at the Palace Grounds. Like City of Armagh - Buccaneers retained the Connacht Senior Cup and have won their last two AIL matches. Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham knows how important their game is against Old Belvedere at the weekend. The Dublin side have a two point advantage over their visitors. Crucial game for both teams who have lost their last two AIL games.
It was a season that promised much with Queens University now in need of points to keep their place in the Division. They face top four sides Navan RFC and UL Bohemians in their next two games. Two wins could see the students challenging for the playoffs.
John Andrews and his Rainey players have their work cut out to finish in the top four with Sligo, Wanderer and Galway Corinthians closing on the Magherafelt side. In this Division we have two Ulster teams Belfast Harlequins and Dungannon fighting it out with Skerries and Sunday's Well to avoid finishing in 9th and 10th place. Rainey travel to Belfast Harlequins this week in an Ulster derby with Dungannon hosting Wanderers. All three Ulster teams need the points.
Omagh suffered a surprise defeat at Seapoint to fall 14 points behind league leaders Ballina. The County Tyrone side find themselves in 4th place four points ahead of 5th place Malahide as they once again pursue the playoffs. They face 3rd place Bruff at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields on Saturday. Bangor are another Ulster team who need to start picking up league points. With the teams below them picking up vital league points Michael Ferguson and his players know how important the game is with Seapoint this week. City of Derry are only one point ahead of 8th and 9th place Thomond on 16 points with the North West side travelling to Limerick to play Thomond at the weekend.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Fascinating contest between Instonians, Ballyclare and Dromore for the league title. Instonians have come in with a late run unimpeded by having to play any mid week games like Ballyclare and Dromore. All three would be expected to pick up maximum points this week. Their opponents Grosvenor, Carrickfergus and CIYMS are also all capable of causing upsets. The bottom of the table looks like a contest between Coleraine, Enniskillen and CIYMS to avoid finishing in 9th and 10th place. Coleraine are home to Portadown with Enniskillen hosting Cooke. CI have Dromore at Belmont.
Academy overwhelmed the students from UUC to open up a two point league over Limavady and Clogher Valley with Randalstown in 4th place. Again all four teams will be targeting maximum points this week. Lisburn have at least guaranteed themselves 9th place and the playoffs with that win over Lurgan on Saturday.
Donaghadee moved a step closer to the league title after Cavan conceded their match against the North Down side. They now have a 17 point advantage over 2nd place Monaghan with five games remaining.
RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP
Had the pleasure to be at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday afternoon to watch a thoroughly entertaining game of club rugby with Ballyclare emerging as convincing winners over a strong Ballynahinch seconds side that included Ulster Academy players Jack Regan and Aaron Hall to win 31 - 14. Great credit must go to Ballyclare coaches Mike McKeever and Ricky Lutton for preparing their team who put on a wonderful display of running rugby their opponents could not match as the County Antrim club look to retain the Towns Cup. It was noticeable how strong the Ulster AIL second xv teams were in the second round matches of the Towns Cup. The teams representing the Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship did not disappoint with Dromore defeating Banbridge seconds and Enniskillen winning at Dungannon. Ballymena seconds proved too strong for Coleraine at Eaton Park.
We have four well matched quarter finals listed for Saturday the 23rd February 2019
Enniskillen v Ballymena seconds
Clogher Valley v Portadown
City of Armagh seconds v Dromore
Ballyclare v Randalstown
IRISH STUDENTS 31 SCOTTISH STUDENTS 3
Despite the difficult conditions at the Dub the Irish students proved too strong for their Scottish counterparts scoring 5 tries to win 31 - 3. Ballynahinch number 8 Conall Boomer put in a man of the match performance that will not have gone unnoticed by the watching Ulster coaches. Other Ulster players involved included Queens University captain David Whitten who put in an impressive performance in the 2nd Row. Bench replacements included Queens University players Alexander Clarke and Rory Bell along with Jonathan McKeown former Ballymena Academy player and Dublin Uni player. Brendan McSorley is not a familiar name in Ulster. He came through the Youth system at Clogher Valley RFC and plays his rugby for Maynooth University. Well done to all the Ulster born players who played their part in this convincing win.
NECK ROLL TACKLE
This is a subject that is raised with me by many rugby followers. I spoke to Richard Kerr Provincial Referee Development Manager - Ulster
Neck rolls are illegal and if seen should be a minimum penalty kick. They are however quite difficult to spot and as a result are often missed by referees. In games where Ulster Society touch judges are appointed , it is one area that the referee will ask the touch judge to be extra vigilant on. There is a clear difference between a neck roll and a player being legally rolled out of a ruck around the chest.
HOW LEAGUE WINNERS WILL BE DECIDED IN ULSTER 2018/19
Greg Irwin CMC has clarified how league winners will be decided in all Ulster Rugby Competitions.
The final league position of teams that finish on equal league points is decided by the outcome of the fixtures between the teams involved and points difference. This should split the teams but if not then it comes down to the total average difference between the points scored and the points conceded in the games actually played in their league and then if this fails to produce a result then the team scoring the greatest number of points per game actually played in their entire league section.
Greg points out that the outcome of matches and points differential should normally sort the issue.
With three teams competing for the league title in Div 1 of the Ulster Rugby Championship and four teams in Div 2 there is a possibility that points differential could decide the winners. The same would apply to the teams fighting to avoid finishing in 9th place in Div 1.
NUTTY KRUST UNDER 18 FLOODLIT TOURNAMENT : QUARTER FINALS
Malone v Banbridge. Played Wednesday 20.2.19.KO 7.45PM: Venue Chambers Park, Portadown RFC
WEEKEND RESULTS/TEAM LISTS SATURDAY 9TH FEBRUARY 2019
FIRST TRUST SENIOR CUP FINAL. PLAYED FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2019
City of Armagh 9 Ballymena 7
City of Armagh team: 1. Paul Mullen, 2. Andrew Smyth, 3. Philip Fletcher, 4. Joshua 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. Jonathan Morton, 17. Oisin Kiernan, 18. Nigel Simpson, 19. Evin Crummie, 20. Timothy McNiece.
Points scorers: Cormac Fox 3 x pens.
Ballymena team: 1. Nacho Clandero Crespo, 2. Andrew Ferguson, 3. Christopher Cundell, 4. David Whann, 5. Connor Smyth, 6. JJ McKee, 7. Marcus Rea (Capt), 8. James Gallagher, 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Tim 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.
Points scorers; Jonny McMullan 1 x try, Tim Small 1 x con.
RIVER ROCK TOWNS CUP SECOND ROUND
Ballynahinch seconds 14 Ballyclare 31
Ballynahinch team: 1. Ben Cullen, 2. Clayton Milligan, 3. Kelvin Hamilton, 4. Tom Martin, 5. Jack Regan 6, Graeme McKitterick, 7. Aaron Hall, 8. Brian Howard, 9. Lewis Finlay, 10. Hilton Gibbons, 11. Jonny McCoubrey, 12. Robin Harte, 13. George Pringle, 14. Aaron Ferris, 15. James McBriar, 16. Conor Piper, 17. Joe Bingham.
Points scorers: Jack Regan and Joe Thompson 1 x try each, Hilton Gibbons 1 x con and Joe Thompson 1 x con.
Ballyclare team: 1. Dean Jones, 2. Matthew Coulter, 3. Al Boyd, 4. Ryan Tweed, 5. Grant Bartley, 6. Aaron Playfair, 7. Gary Weatherup, 8. Dave Clarke, 9. Andy Eastop, 10. Niall Lawther, 11. Michael Kirk, 12. Robbie Reid, 13. Joel McBride (Capt), 14. Owen Kirk, 15. Gary Clotworthy, 16. Jack Black, 17. Ross Patterson.
Points scorers; Michael Kirk 2 x tries, Owen Kirk and Joel McBride 1 x try each, Robbie Reid 1 x try and 3 x cons.
Clogher Valley 32 Limavady 10
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 Fegan, 17. Mark McKenna.
Points scorers: Rodney Bennett 2 x tries, David Sharkey 1 x try, 1 x penalty try + con, Paul Armstrong 2 x pens and 2 x cons.
Limavady team; 1. John McCollum, 2. Luke Montgomery, 3. Clive Scott, 4. Michael Rice, 5. Adam Currie, 6. Stuart Simpson, 7. Perry Semple, 8. Jody McMurray, 9. Jamie Millar, 10. Gavin Martin, 11. Mark Woods, 12. Jamie 'Mo' Millar, 13. Jim McCartney, 14. Tom McClelland, 15. Matthew Haslett, 16. Graham McAleese, 17. Jason Kerr.
Points scorers: Matthew Haslett, Jamie 'Mo' Millar 1 x try each.
Dromore 26 Banbridge seconds 6
Dromore team: 1.Mark Hylands, 2. Fraser Mulholland, 3. Tom Lyttle, 4. Matthew McMaster, 5. Ross Bingham, 6. Adam MacGregor, 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Ben Heath, 9. TJ Morris, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Andrew Rutledge, 12. Graeme McCandless, 13. Aaron Stewart, 14. Brian McClearn, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Andrew Black, 17. Rory Pepper.
Points scorers: Adam McGregor, Adam McDonald, Fraser Mulholland, Ben Heath 1 x try each, David Lyttle 3 x cons.
Banbridge team: 1. Scott Cromie, 2. Andrew Jackson, 3. Ross Haughey, 4. Robin Sinton, 5. Matthew Laird, 6. Paul Ross, 7. Dale Carson. 8. Ryan Hughes, 9. Aaron Kennedy, 10. Neil Kilpatrick, 11. John Porter, 12. Ross Cartmill, 13. Hugo Harbinson, 14. Chris Patterson, 15. Robin Thompson, 16. C Reid, 17. John Wilson.
Points scorers: Aaron Kennedy 2 x pens.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Coleraine 3 CIYMS 31
Coleraine team: 1.Dijon McCorkell, 2. Martin Juzl, 3. Aidy Nevin, 4. Fergal Wiseman, 5. Josh Christie, 6. Simon McLean, 7. Bernard Mullan, 8. Steven Dickey, 9. Matthew Leighton, 10. Greg Jordan, 11. Martin Senk, 12. Adam Parke, 13. Mikey Poskett, 14. Brian Cochrane, 15. Jonny Crowe, 16. Cillian Butler, J McCaw.
Points scorers: Greg Jordan 1 x pen.
CIYMS team: 1. Aaron Kilpatrick, 2. Scott McNarry, 3. Gavin Woods, 4. Cory Tipping, 5. Mark McConkey, 6. Scott Dowle, 7. Jason Gilliland, 8. Shane Moffatt, 9. Cameron Stewart, 10. Rob Haldane, 11. Gareth Peden, 12. Callum Irvine, 13. Matt Butler, 14. Michael Fry, 15. Peter Raine, 16. Michael Lilly, 17. Euan Nelson.
Points scorers: Gareth Peden 2 x tries, Callum Irvine, Shane Moffatt, Mark McConkey 1 x try each, Rob Haldane 1 x pen and 1 x con, Cameron Stewart 1 x con.
Grosvenor 18 Carrickfergus 21
Grosvenor team: 1. Willy Rea, 2. Stuart Smyth, 3. Mark Cartmill, 4. Andrew Kelly, 5. Peter Dawson, 6. Sam Purdon, 7. Connor McKee, 8. Ben Davies, 9. Neil Adams. 10. Peter Davison, 11. David Egner, 12. Cameron Knell, 13. Josh McConkey, 14. Jonny Farquhar, 15. Adam Skelton, 16. Mark Rainey, 17. Matthew Fitzsimons.
Points scorers: Neil Adams, Peter Davison 1 x try each, Adam Skelton 1 x con and 2 x pen.
Carrickfergus team: 1. Adam Gibney, 2. Alan Whitley, 3. Paul Greenaway, 4. Chris Rodgers, 5. Curtis Rea, 6. Ryan Gibson, 7. Ross Marsden, 8. Ryan McGonigle (Capt), 9. Conor McCambridge, 10. Sam Wallace, 11. David Moore, 12. Reece Berry, 13. Fionn McCormick, 14. Brian Alexander, 15. David Carse, 16. Rab Williams, 17. Jack Millar.
Points scorers: Conor McCambridge, David Carse 1 x try each, Fionn McCormick 3 x pens and 1 x con.
Portadown 12 Instonians 34
Portadown team: 1. Mark Henderson, 2. Rab Reid, 3. Matthew Davison, 4. Matt Stevens, 5. Danny Alexander, 6. James Wright, 7. Jordan Taylor, 8. Lloyd Gravitt, 9. Brian Forrestal, 10. Brett Flack, 11. Jack Orr, 12. Ollie Montels, 13. Mark Adamson (Capt), 14. Josh Matchett, 15. Tom Ceasar, 16. Conor Webster, 17. Gary Hall.
Points scorers: Lloyd Gravitt 1 x try, Mark Adamson 1 x try and 1 x con.
Instonians team: 1. Dennis Shuttleworth, 2. Conor Gallagher, 3. Alan Whitten, 4. John Andress, 5. Tom Matthews, 6. Massimo Kiri Kiri, 7. Cameron Barr, 8. Lewis McNamara, 9. Paul Marshall, 10. Richard McCarthy, 11. Donal Moloney, 12. David Scott (Capt), 13. Matthew Kilpatrick, 14. Ross O'Donnell, 15. Wayne Kelly, 16. Sean Shuttleworth, 17. Colm Cregan.
Points scorers: Donal Moloney 2 x tries, Alan Whitten, Matthew Kilpatrick, Lewis McNamara 1 x try each, Richard McCarthy 1 x pen and 3 x cons.
Cooke v Ballyclare Postponed
Dromore v Enniskillen Postponed
PREMIERSHIP 2ND XV LEAGUE
Malone seconds 22 Omagh seconds 21
Malone team: 1. Lee Barlow, 2. Scott Finlay, 3. Seif El Deen, 4. Ryan Clarke, 5. Josh Davidson, 6. Jonny Davis, 7. Tom Dullage, 8. Max Porter (Capt), 9. Callum Jeffrey, 10. Connor Spence, 11. Jack Knox, 12. Matthew Hamilton, 13. Finn Stoneman, 14. Chris Jordan, 15. Mark O'Connor, 16. Gary Crawford, 17. Dave Cave.
Points scorers: Scott Finlay 2 x tries, Jonny Davis 1 x try, Mark O'Connor 2 x cons and 1 x pen.
Omagh team: 1. Nathan Kilfedder, 2. Peter Todd, 3. Ethan McKeown, 4. Stuart Allan, 5. Kaine Holden, 6. Michael Gibson, 7. Jack Mitchell, 8. Matthew Clyde, 9. Taine Lagan, 10. Peter Scott, 11. Ryan Mitchell, 12. Dean Kane, 13. Eoin Murnaghan, 14. Stephen MacLaine, 15. Scott Elliott, 16. Glen McKinley, 17. Jake McCay.
Points scorers: Matthew Clyde, Stephen MacLaine 1 x try each, Eoin Murnaghan 1 x try and 3 x cons.
Ballymena seconds v Banbridge seconds Postponed
City of Armagh seconds v Ballynahinch seconds Postponed
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Larne 20 Ards 17
Larne team: 1. Micah Stevenson, 2. Craig Gibson, 3. Luke Burford, 4. Matt Crampsey, 5. March Gilbert, 6. Ryan McAllister, 7. Jonny Ogilby, 8. Charlie Cloke, 9. Ryan Garrett, 10. BJ McFaul, 11. Jacob Swan, 12. Aaron McBride, 13. Jonny Hall, 14. Scott Montgomery, 15. Jordan Burns, 16. Chris Rea, 17. D Campbell.
Points scorers: 1. Scott Montgomery, Craig Gibson 1 x try each, Ryan Garrett 1 x try, 1 x pen and 1 x con.
Ards team: 1. Andrew Foster (Capt), 2. Tom Arthur Donnan, 3. Matty Kane, 4. Ross Torney, 5. Robert Hull, 6. Ryan Thompson, 7. Onisi Burekama, 8. Graeme Taylor, 9. Alex Hendrickse, 10. Paul Cox, 11. Matthew Warnock, 12. Mark Banford, 13. David Armstrong, 14. Adam Coulter, 15. Michael Taylor, 16. Matty Bell, 17. Paddy Bond.
Points scorers: Ryan Thompson, Ryan Torney, Graeme Taylor 1 x try each. Paul Cox 1 x con.
Lisburn 26 Lurgan 22
Lisburn team: 1. Jamie Dickson (Capt), 2. Matthew Nelson, 3.Uate Caquea, 4. Cameron Brough, 5. Dave Curry, 6. Andy Barron, 7. Adam Jameson, 8. Stuart Evans, 9. Dinis Manso, 10. Richard McGregor, 11. Connor Gasgoine, 12. Ryan Hill, 13. Jake Bebbington, 14. Craig Walsh, 15. Epi Ratu, 16. Matt Edgar, 17. Kitione Dominiqbau.
Points scorers: Craig Walsh 2 x tries, Kitione Dominiqbau, Uate Caquea 1 x try each, Richard McGregor 3 x cons.
Lurgan team: 1. Graham Currie, 2. Marty Follis, 3. Josh Lyness, 4. Richard Shilliday, 5. Neil Adamson, 6. Lewis Lawson, 7. Sam Longstaff, 8.Dean Wilson (Capt), 9. Chris Jenks, 10. Dylan Gill, 11. Richard Hull, 12. Te Rangihau Te Whetu, 13. Ben McIIwaine, 14. Jack Wilson, 15. Stephen Nolan, 16. Ryan Emerson, 17. Matthew McConaghy.
Points scorers: Richard Hull 2 x tries, Sam Longstaff 1 x try, Stephen Nolan 2 x cons and 1 x DG.
UUC 0 Academy 62
Academy team: 1. Chris Nash, 2. Lee Moody, 3. Troy Wilson, 4. Brian Cahill, 5. Jonny Torrens, 6. Jamie Watts, 7. Stewart Martin, 8. Richard Henderson (Capt), 9. David Kenny, 10. Jordan Buchanan, 11. Jamie Wilson, 12. Callum Lyle, 13. Mark Wylie, 14. Simon Beattie, 15. Chris Cooper, 16. Adam Martin, 17. Kyle Gregg.
Points scorers: Richard Henderson, Jamie Wilson, Simon Beattie 2 x tries each, Callum Lyle, Mark Wylie, Brian Cahill, 1 x try each, Chris Cooper 1 x try and 6 x cons (17 x points)
Limavady v Ballymoney Postponed
Randalstown v Clogher Valley Postponed
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
BHSFP V Monaghan Postponed
Donaghadee v Cavan. Conceded by Cavan
Letterkenny 28 Newry 21
Ophir 12 Civil Service 14
Strabane v Holywood Postponed
Virginia 24 PSNI 17
FIXTURES SATURDAY 16TH FEBRUARY 2019
ALL IRELAND LEAGUE ROUND 12
Cork Constitution (1) v Clontarf (3)
Dublin University (5) v UCC (8)
Garryowen (4) v Terenure College (10)
Lansdowne (2) v Shannon (9)
UCD (7) v Young Munster (9)
St Mary's College (7) v Naas (3) Played Friday 15.2.19.KO 8PM
Ballynahinch (4) v Old Wesley (5)
City of Armagh (6) v Buccaneers (8) KO 3PM
Malone (1) v Banbridge (2)
Old Belvedere (9) v Ballymena (10)
Ballynahinch v Old Wesley
Ballynahinch Assistant coach: Tom Rock - For Ballynahinch it is taking it one game at a time. It is looking at the next game and taking it game by game. Injuries continue to impact on the playing squad. Callum McLaughlin remains unavailable for this block of AIL games. Centre Stuart Morrow is awaiting surgery on a foot injury and will not play again this season. Prop Campbell Classon had surgery on a thumb injury and is not expected to be available for 4 weeks. Conor Kelly has had ACL surgery and is not expected to be available until 2020. Josh Jordan continues to make progress and is targeting a return before the end of the season. Both Rory Butler and James Simpson have returned to training with fitness decisions to be made on Thursday night on whether they play for the 1st xv or 2nd xv this week. Both Bradley Luney and Ryan Wilson are expected to be included in the 1st xv squad this week.
The coaching staff were disappointed that a strong second xv that included Ulster Academy players Jack Regan and Aaron Hall lost their 2nd Rd Towns Cup tie at home to Ballyclare 31 - 14 on Saturday. The team weren't at the races with the coaching staff really disappointed with their performance. The challenges for the coaches and players is to see the players regroup with a lot of big games coming up for both the 1st xv and 2nd xv.
Old Wesley are a good side. They have a strong set piece and play good rugby. It will be a tough challenge for the Ballynahinch team. The players have to step up to win the ball and be comfortable with it going forward. Defensively the team are strong. It is all about putting the pieces together at home on Saturday. They have to guard against complacency in their performances.
Ballynahinch number 8 Conall Boomer put in an man of the match performance for the Irish students against the Scottish students at the Dub on Sunday. As Tom Rock explained to me Conall Boomer is a key player for Ballynahinch and has been consistently performing for the 1st xv this season.
Ulster releases include Jack Regan and Zac McCall with Jonny McPhillips and Aaron Hall to be confirmed.
In their first meeting at Donnybrook on the 1.12.18 Ballynahinch won 27 - 16.
City of Armagh v Buccaneers
This is a important block of games for City of Armagh against four teams playing below them in this league. Three of the matches are at home with one away.
City of Armagh Assistant coach: Chris Parker - Injury rules out full back Ryan Purvis who ruptured an AC joint in the Senior Cup Final against Ballymena. Other injuries include Jonny Pollock who will be fitness tested this week. Both Daryl Morton and Harry Boyd are back training and will be involved for either the 1st or 2nd xv next week. Back row Ryan O'Neill has seen a Specialist and will not require Surgery on his knee injury. He will continue working with the physios and is expected to be available in 3/4 weeks time. Stuart Lester has a hamstring injury and is expected to be available for the Towns Cup game with Dromore. Nigel Simpson who made his return off the bench against Ballymena is expected to come into contention for a starting place this week. Timothy McNeice who replaced Ryan Purvis on Friday night is expected to retain the full back jersey. The squad is expected to be on similar lines to the team that retained the First Trust Senior Cup. No decision has been made whether to go with another forward/back to replace Timothy McNeice on the bench.
It was emphasised to the team in the dressing room after their win in the Senior Cup their focus has to switch to the AIL which is their bread and butter. It is crucial the team continue to pick up league points. Buccaneers are a very good team. For the Armagh players it is a case of not standing off them from the start. It is a case of the players getting off the line and squeezing this Buccaneers side. The teams have already met twice this season and know each other fairly well. Buccaneers are coming off two wins over Old Belvedere and Ballymena. The players have to make sure they are hungry and play for 80 mins. They are in good spirits and felt fresh going into the game against Ballymena on Friday night. It was a case of the coaches managing the team through an unbroken run of 10 games. This involved giving the players nights off from training. This approach appeared to work quite well. City of Armagh have a tight knit squad that has counted for a lot this season.
In Round 7 at Dubarry Park City of Armagh lost 24 - 17 on the 1.12.18. In the All Ireland Bateman Cup semi final City of Armagh defeated Buccaneers 29 - 13 at the Palace Grounds.
Malone v Banbridge
Malone Head coach: Paddy Armstrong - Still waiting confirmation on Ulster releases. Prop Peter Cooper returns to the squad after injury. Graham Curtis will start again at scrum half after doing really well in his last three AIL games. Both James McAllister and Ben McCaughey continue to make progress from their injuries.
The coach is looking forward to the big challenge Banbridge will present for his team on Saturday.
Ulster releases: Jack Owens, Ross Kane and Graham Curtis with the releases of Adam McBurney, Matty Agnew, Joe Dunleavy and Matty Dalton TBC. Stewart Moore remains on the injured list.
Banbridge Head coach: Simon McKinstry - The coach was pleased with the teams last two AIL wins away to City of Armagh and home to St Mary's College. The St Mary's College win was particularly pleasing with no Ulster releases in the matchday 20. This block of fixtures involves three games away to Malone, Old Wesley and Ballymena with Ballynahinch at home. Pleasing for the coach has been the return to fitness of Robin Sinton and Matthew Laird who both played against Dromore in the Towns Cup last Saturday. Along with the return to the squad of Mike Bentley these three forwards add depth to the forwards for the remaining AIL games. What has pleased Simon McKinstry is the form shown by second row Alex Thompson in his last two games. Simon feels Alex is playing at the level that earned a place in the Ulster Rugby squad. The return of Jonny Little to the backs has been welcomed.
For the game at Gibson Park the players are looking forward to this match. The Banbridge coach felt Malone have been one of the strongest teams they have played this season. In the first meeting between the two teams it was nip and tuck going into the final minutes. This was when the Banbridge scrum won the game for the team.
Ulster releases: Caleb Montgomery and David McCann ( Ireland under 20s) with the releases of Rob Lyttle, Greg Jones and Jonny Stewart TBC.
Banbridge recorded an impressive 21 - 11 win in Round 7 at Rifle Park on the 1.12.18. The County Down side are unbeaten in their last five AIL games with Malone stretching back to the 12.9.15 when Banbridge won 20 - 13 at Gibson Park. In fact that record stretches back over eight games if you include meetings in the SONI Ulster league and the First Trust Senior Cup.
Old Belvedere v Ballymena
Ballymena Head coach Andy Graham could not fault the effort of his players in their First Trust Senior Cup defeat to City of Armagh. He felt a missed penalty early in the second half could have put his team 10 - 3 in front. In the final quarter the team got stuck in their own twenty two and were unable to threaten the Armagh line. Injuries and unavailability will impact on his selection this week. Both props Chris Cundell and Nacho Clandero Crespo are unavailable with injuries ruling out Rodger McBurney and James Gallagher. Second row David Whann picked up a perforated laceration across his eye on Friday night and has been ruled out for several weeks. Out half Timothy Small also picked up an eye injury in the same match but has been cleared to play this week. Stephen Mulholland who missed the Cup Final injured his knee in the AIL game at Ballynahinch and remains unavailable. Jordan Foster another absentee is unavailable due to work commitments. Azur Allison remains on the injured list. Eoin Ritson has returned to training and is expected to play for the 2nd xv this week. Work commitments continue to rule out Jack Bolger. James Beattie continues his rehab after undergoing ACL surgery in October. The one positive piece of good news is the return of Paddy James who is expected to be included in the matchday 20 on Saturday.
Ulster releases: Marcus Rea, Bruce Houston.
Ballymena team + replacements: 1. Josh Bill, 2. Jonny Spence, 3. James Taggart, 4.JJ McKee, 5. Connor Smyth, 6. Connor white, 7. Dominic Gallagher, 8. Marcus Rea (Capt), 9. Michael Stronge, 10. Bruce Houston, 11. Darrell Montgomery, 12. Glenn Baillie, 13. Matthew Norris, 14. Jonny McMullan, 15. Timothy Small, 16. Houston Bonnar, 17. Andrew Ferguson, 18. Mark Foster, 19. Dean Reynolds, 20. Paddy James.
Andy Graham: This league is so competitive. His players have to really front up this weekend. A win will see them move above Old Belvedere. A win for Old Belvedere will see them pull away from Ballymena. For his players every game remaining in the AIL is a Cup Final. The players have to take heart from the things they are getting right. Their defence has been one of their positives with City of Armagh unable to break through on Friday night. Having Paddy James and Bruce Houston available in the backline will add a different dynamic to the team going forward. The coach believes he still has the experience in the pack to front up against Old Belvedere.
Ballymena won the first meeting in Round 7 at Eaton Park 28 - 14 on the 1.12.18
Nenagh Ormond (7) v Old Crescent (5) Played Friday 15.2.19. KO 8PM
UL Bohemians (4) v Cashel RFC (2) Played Friday 15.2.19. KO 8PM
Blackrock College (9) v Dolphin (8)
Galwegians (10) v Highfield (1)
Queens University (6) v Navan RFC (3)
Queens University v Navan RFC
The students lost 24 - 17 in Round 7 0n the 1.12.18
Belfast Harlequins (8) v Rainey OB (3)
Dungannon (9) v Wanderers (5)
MU Barnhall (1) v Galway Corinthians (4)
Sligo (6) v Skerries (7)
Sunday's Well (10) v Greystones (2)
Belfast Harlequins v Rainey OB
Neal Wilson 1st xv Manager Belfast Harlequins: The team is to be confirmed on Thursday night with not to many changes expected from the away win at Skerries. Players have trained well during break and are targeting wins in all their remaining home matches to avoid a potential relegation/playoff this season.
Rainey OB Head coach John Andrews:
In a very close game at Hatrick Park on the 1.12.18 Rainey OB won 10 - 7
Dungannon v Wanderers
Head coach Andy Hughes is having to deal with Jonah Mau'u returning to NZ followed by Conor McGeough by the end of February. He will lose his young scrum half Adam Evans who is going out to NZ to play rugby for the season. He was frustrated that several of his players picked up injuries in training on Tuesday night with prop Glenn Sinnamon already ruled out with a hip injury. Club Captain Stephen Todd remains unavailable with a back injury. Players including Ross Stewart, Mervyn Brown, Daniel Maxwell, Jamie McNeill and Andrew McPhillips will undergo fitness tests on Thursday night. The coach is hoping Mark Faloon will make himself available next week. The good news is that James Mc Mahon has got game time against Greystones and Enniskillen and will come into contention for this week. Both Lucca Avelli and Sean O'Hagan are expected to be included this week after returning from injury. Scrum half cover Jack Reavy remains unavailable due to concentrating on his studies.
The Dungannon team is expected to be from front row Sean O'Hagan, James Gamble, Malcolm Allister and Ross Stewart, second row from Alex Gormley, Peter Doran/David Leyburn, Back row from Mark Riddell (Capt), David Leyburn/Alex Gormley and James McMahon. Backs John Russell, John Buckley, Matthew Montgomery, Mervyn Brown, Lucca Avelli, Caolan Mulgrew, Andrew McGregor.
The coach is looking forward to the game on Sat. Every game points are precious. He felt the team played some great rugby at Greystones and gifted them two of their four tries. It is all about the team getting the defensive structure in place that worked so well against Rainey OB.
Three of the four games Dungannon play in the next block of AIL games are at home as the team look to move away from the bottom end of the league. They are currently level on points with 10th place Sunday's Well.
Dungannon lost 28 - 3 at the Aviva away to Wanderers on the 1.12.18
Bangor (6) v Seapoint (10)
Malahide (5) v Tullamore (8)
Midleton (2) v Ballina (1)
Omagh (4) v Bruff (3)
Thomond (9) v City of Derry (7)
Bangor v Seapoint
Head coach Michael Ferguson will be looking his players to cut out the simple mistakes that are costing his team dearly in matches. Curtis Stewart is away for a month with work but the coach welcomes back Mikey Weir back from injury. He is also hoping James Henley will return in the next few weeks to strengthen his back row options. In the backs Ally Lockhart returns to the squad to help boost the backline options.
Bangor team+ replacements: 1. Philp Whyte, 2. Andrew Shaw, 3. James Leary, 4. Lewis Stevenson, 5. David Caughey, 6. Craig Burton, 7. Jamie Clegg, 8. David Bradford (Capt), 9. Liam Preston, 10. Gareth Millar, 11. Mark Widdowson, 12. Desi Fusco, 13. Adam Alexander, 14. Nathan Graham, 15. Phil Broderick, 16. Andrew Jackson, 17. Charlie Clegg, 18. Michael Ferguson, 19 Mikey weir, 20. Ally Lockhart.
Bangor won 12 - 10 away to Seapoint in Round 7 on the 1.12.18
Omagh v Bruff
Head coach Phil Marshall has lost back row Stuart Allen to injury picked up playing at Malone last Saturday. Second row Jonny Sproule is unavailable with Kaine Holden taking his place. Richard Harper comes on to the bench as cover. Two backs Neil Brown and Stuart Ballantine face late fitness tests before selection is finalised on Thursday night.
In another close game Omagh went down 23 - 17 to Bruff on the 1.12.18
Thomond v City of Derry
Director of Rugby Paul O'Kane has several players unavailable for the trip to Limerick to play Thomond. Both tight head props Sam Duffy and Ben Pollin are out injured with Simon Logue unavailable due to work commitments. Other players ruled out include Craig Huey, Callum O'Hagan and James Perry.
City of Derry held on to record an impressive 19 - 13 win over Thomond at the Craig Thompson Stadium on the 1.12.18
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
CIYMS (8) v Dromore (3)
Carrickfergus (6) v Ballyclare (2)
Coleraine (10) v Portadown (7)
Enniskillen (9) v Cooke (5)
Instonians (1) v Grosvenor (4)
CIYMS v Dromore
CIYMS Head coach Gareth Fry: The coach has a number of players unavailable from the win at Coleraine with a few players returning this week. It was a good win for the team on Saturday but not a particularly good performance. The defence was very strong with the team getting the win. He feels his playing squad are in a better place than they were three weeks ago with a lot of rugby still to be played in the league.
Dromore will be very strong and obviously looking to get the win to keep them in contention for the league. It is a game his players are looking forward to.
Dromore Head coach Jonny Cullen: CIYMS have brought their form back. It will be another tough match at Belmont. Dromore make one change from the team that defeated Banbridge seconds in the Towns Cup with Matthew McMaster starting on the bench with Jonny Maguire returning to the second row.
When these two teams met at Barban Hill on the 13th October 2018 - Dromore scored eight tries in a 54 - 0 win.
Carrickfergus v Ballyclare
Warren McClean Carrickfergus Head coach: The team lost young out half Sam Wallace at Grosvenor with an ankle injury that saw the player undergo surgery on Monday. The coach would like to thank Grosvenor and their guys for all the help on the day. Several forwards are carrying injuries and will face late fitness tests before team is finalised for the match with Ballyclare on Saturday.
Mike McKeever Ballyclare Head coach: The coach keeps the starting xv that won at Ballynahinch in the Towns Cup. His aim is to build on last weeks performance. He brings the experienced Robert Boyd on to the bench for this match at Carrick. Although Ross Patterson did very well it is important he gets more minutes playing for the second xv to be a stronger option for next season.
In their first league meeting at the Cloughan on the 3.11. 18 Ballyclare outscored Carrickfergus by seven tries to four to win a highly entertaining match 45 - 22.
Coleraine v Portadown
It is all change at Coleraine with Benjy Van Del Byl stepping down as Head coach to focus on Youth Development. His place has been taken by Brian Hughes and Greg Jordan. Defeat for Coleraine this week could see them struggling to keep their place in Div 1 this season.
Portadown Head coach Stuart Lamb keeps the same side that lost at home to Instonians for the trip to Coleraine. His team have lost their last three league matches and need a couple of wins to avoid finishing in 9th place. It has been a difficult few weeks with the players buying into the new game plans. Trying to change game plans mid season has proven difficult . With a couple of wins needed it is a matter of the players putting their heads down and pushing on.
On the 3.11. 18 Portadown outscored Coleraine by five tries to one to win 34 - 7 at Chambers Park.
Enniskillen v Cooke
Head coach Stevie Welsh is looking forward to the visit of Cooke to Mullaghmeen on Saturday. His pack is expected to be the same bar number 8 Ricky Lee who was injured in the Towns Cup win at Dungannon. His place will be taken by Gavin Parke. The coach was delighted to welcome back second row forward Davy Buchanan from injury for the game at Dungannon. His presence will add experience to the forwards. In the backs the coach is hoping to welcome back James Ferguson, Matthew Dane and Nicky Finlay. The game on Saturday is important for Enniskillen as they look to move away from 9th place and the playoffs.
Colin Atkinson Cooke Head coach:
At Shawsbridge on the 3.11.18 Cooke outscored Enniskillen by three tries to two to win 25 - 15.
Instonians v Grosvenor
Head coach John Andress is delighted with the commitment from his players as they moved ahead of Ballyclare after winning at Portadown with a bonus point to top the league with four games remaining. The coach has virtually a full squad available for the remaining matches. Injury rules out Michael Melville for the remainder of the season. Paddy Bell picked up a shoulder injury in the Dromore game that ruled him out for eight weeks. Full back Wayne Kelly picked up an ankle injury at Portadown that will rule him out for two weeks. The good news is that the coach welcomes back Neil Saulters, James Martin and Andrew Keane from injury to the squad this week along with Lewis McNamara and Mark Mairs. NZ back row forward Massimo Kiri Kiri was red carded at the end of the Portadown match with the coach awaiting the outcome of his disciplinary hearing on Wednesday night.
John Andress believes the league this season is much stronger than last season when it was a two horse race. This season you had four teams at one stage with it becoming a three horse race between Instonians, Ballyclare and Dromore.
For his Instonians team it is all about turning up and performing with the results looking after themselves.
Grosvenor Head coach Robert Ford: The team lost Captain Andrew Kelly, Cameron Knell and Sam Purdon to injury in the first 20 minutes against Carrickfergus last week. Carrick played well and deserved the win. Robert wanted to express the best wishes from everyone at Grosvenor to young Sam Wallace the Carrick player who was injured towards the end of the second half and hope he has a speedy recovery.
For the match at Instonians- Grosvenor are without Stuart McIIwaine, Allen McCluggage, Matthew Allen, Willie Rea, Connor McKee, Andrew Kelly, Jeff Mealiff, Sam Purdon, Cameron Knell and David Egner. The team have two tough games coming up with Instonians but still hoping to do enough before the end of the season to finish in 4th place.
Grosvenor are a very young side and lots of players have gained experience this year moving up from the seconds. Hopefully this will stand the team in
In their first meeting at Gibson Park on the 3.11.18 it required a late injury time try for Instonians to win 18 - 14.
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Dromore v Carrickfergus. Played Tuesday 19.2.19. KO 7.30PM.
When these two teams met at the Tom Simms Memorial Grounds on the 17.11.18 Dromore were narrow winners by 13 - 8.
ULSTER RUGBY PREMIERSHIP 2ND XV LEAGUE
Malone seconds (5) v Banbridge seconds (6)
Ballymena seconds (4) v Ballynahinch seconds (1)
Omagh seconds (3) v City of Armagh seconds (2)
KUKRI ULSTER RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Academy (1) v Ards (6)
Clogher Valley (3) v Lisburn (9)
Lurgan (7) v Larne (8)
Randalstown (4) v Ballymoney (5)
UUC (10) v Limavady (2)
Academy v Ards
Head coach Gareth Lynn is delighted his team have a two point advantage going into their remaining five league games. He was full of praise for the UUC side who never gave up on Saturday despite his team winning 62 - 0. They made his Academy side work for their win. He feels the players are very focused and in a good place . The blip at Clogher Valley woke the players up and made them realise they would have to work for every point. Second row Keith Dobbin fractured his hand in the defeat at Clogher with his season probably over. He is awaiting a decision on whether he needs a plate inserted. Despite the injury the coach is delighted to welcome back two second rows Jonny Torrens and Kyle Gregg from injury for the remaining matches. The squad is intact and has a settled look that helped the team to perform throughout the season. The players are very focused on winning the league. They know they have to treat every game like a Cup Final. The result last Saturday means nothing if the team cannot back it up this week. The team are enjoying their rugby . It is all about focusing on each game to win the match. The seconds and thirds are going well in the club with a great buzz everywhere. The challenge for Gareth Lynn and his players are winning matches and then targeting the bonus point.
Ards Head coach John West:
These two teams met at Hamilton Park on the 3.11.18 with the Academy winning 20 - 3.
Clogher Valley v Lisburn.
David Sharkey Clogher Valley: Clogher retain the same team that defeated Limavady with only one change. Prop Philip Hopper is injured and will be replaced by Stephen McWilliams.
Lisburn Director Rugby Mike Knowles: After their dramatic late win over Lurgan - Lisburn are forced to make changes because of injury. Both David Curry and Jake Bebbington are major doubts and are likely to be replaced by James Welling and Andy Neely.
In their first league meeting at Blaris on the 3.11.18 Clogher Valley were convincing winners scoring six tries in a comprehensive 40 - 17 win.
Lurgan v Larne.
Lurgan assistant coach Jason Wallace:
Graham Cloke Larne Head coach: The coach has been forced to make a number of changes for the trip to Pollack Park after their win over Ards at the Glynn. This has been the Achilles heel for the coach all season. If the players made themselves available and trained regularly they would finish in the top four. The coach is without Jordan Burns, Jonny Hall, Jonny Cole and Craig Gibson with Matthew Agnew unavailable due to injury. This is a match Larne can win. Lurgan are like ourselves, they are good at home with Graham Cloke and his players expecting a tough match.
Larne swept aside Lurgan scoring six tries in their 38 - 6 win when the two teams met at the Glynn on the 3.11.18
Randalstown v Ballymoney
Willie Allen Randalstown 1st xv Manager: The Randalstown players are expecting a hard game against Ballymoney on Saturday. The last time the teams met it was very close with the result being decided by a penalty in injury time. The team for Saturday will not be finalised until Thursday night with few changes expected to the team that won at Carrickfergus in the Towns Cup. Both props Neil Foster and Matty McBrien are unavailable this week which will mean Simon Adams coming into the match day squad.
Ballymoney Coach Jonny Hanna: Ballymoney 1st xv have had a few weeks off with no games. He is looking the team to get back to where they left off against UUC. They have a tough end to their league season with a number of away games. Selection for this week will be finalised on Thursday night. The players have no pressure on them and want to finish the season strongly. There is a good buzz about the club with 2nds and the 4th xv aiming for Cup semi finals next month.
It was a close game in their first league meeting at Kilraughts Road on the 3.11.18 with Randalstown winning 13 - 10.
UUC v Limavady
Jonny Wright Assistant coach UUC:
Graeme Eastwood Head coach Limavady: As the coach put it the destiny of the league title is in their own hands. For the coaches and players there are seven weeks of hard work left. It is time to refocus and take it one game at a time. To be the best Limavady have to beat the best. It is a challenge the players are looking forward to. Six players return this weekend for league action and a local derby the team will enjoy. March is a pivotal month with five games in a row with three crucial players returning in the next week the coach will be back to full complement for these remaining league games.
Limavady scored nine tries in a comprehensive 59 - 0 win over the students at the John Hunter Playing Fields on the 3.11.18.
GORDON WEST CUP QUARTER FINALS
Strabane v Cavan
Newry v Donaghadee
Holywood v Letterkenny
BHSFP v Monaghan