Clare exit cup in Coleraine.
Saturday saw another big game for the Cloughan men when they travelled to the North Coast to play Coleraine in the quarter final of the Miller McCall Wylie Junior Cup. Illness kept Stewart Cusick from the match day squad, Gareth Byers replaced him in the centre. James Greer returned to full back and Ryan Tweed to the wing. Ross Johnston joined Weatherup and McKinstry in the back row. A cold wind blew diagonally across the pitch and there were a couple of sharp showers of rain/hail during the game.
Ballyclare kicked off with the wind advantage in the first half. Coleraine immediately went on the offensive. A break from their centre almost reaching the Ballyclare line. His off load caught the Coleraine receiver off balance and he lost his footing allowing Ballyclare to hold him up over the line. A superb shunt by the Coleraine pack at the resulting 5m scrum saw Ballyclare go 5-0 down within 5 minutes. The conversion from wide right into the wind was good to add 2 points. 7-0
As was to be the pattern of the game Ballyclare enjoyed a period of sustained pressure deep in Coleraine territory. Midway through the first half after several attempts to break the Coleraine defence a penalty was awarded to Ballyclare inside the Coleraine 22, to the right of the posts. Captain Gary Weatherup instructed Robbie Reid to kick at goal to put Ballyclare on the score board. The kick looked to be heading through the posts but the wind caught the high ball and it agonisingly rebounded off the right upright. The loose ball was knocked on by Coleraine giving a scrum to Ballyclare. Coleraine were able to regain possession and kick to safety.
Following another spell of pressure by Ballyclare, approaching the half hour mark, Coleraine managed to break out of their own half. Bursting into Ballyclare territory, some great last ditch tackling curtailed Coleraine’s advances. Ballyclare were unfortunately penalised for not releasing in the tackle, Coleraine converted the penalty to go 10-0 in front. Ballyclare ended the first half enjoying multiple phases of play on the Coleraine line but couldn’t take advantage as the Coleraine defence held strong. Half time, 10-0 to Coleraine, but it was hoped that Ballyclare would get the breakthrough soon.
Midway through the second period the score remained at 10-0, Ballyclare were still ahead on the territory and possession stats. Resolute Coleraine defence denying Ballyclare any reward. Coleraine worked their way towards the Ballyclare 22 where a kick out of defence landed midfield. It was gathered by the Coleraine wing who rounded the bunched Ballyclare defenders to score in the right hand corner. With time running out this proved to be a hammer blow to Ballyclare hopes. 15-0
With the game approaching full time Coleraine were deep inside Ballyclare territory. With Ballyclare in possession of the ball, a pass that didn’t get to hand was seized on by Coleraine and they scored again behind the posts. The final whistle sounded as the conversion crossed the bar bringing the score to 22-0. An afternoon to forget for Ballyclare, but credit must go to Coleraine who took their chances well. Coleraine join Ballynahinch 2’s, Omagh and Portadown in the semi-final draw on Monday.
Ballyclare continue their compass point travels round Ireland next week. After being west and north in the last week they travel south to Wexford where reigning champions Enniscorthy await for the All Ireland Junior Cup quarter final. The team will travel on Friday evening, staying overnight in the neighbouring town of Gorey. There are plans for a supporter’s bus to go for the day on Saturday, numbers dependant. Anyone wishing to travel should contact Club Chairman, Peter Kirk, ASAP.
Ballyclare 1st XV 1-15; R Henderson, D Jones, A Boyd, W Logan, G Bartley, R Johnston, G Weatherup, J Mckinstry, C Morrow, R Reid, M Kirk, D Clarke, G Byers, R Tweed, J Greer
Replacements; W Rea, C Smith.