Ballymoney High School under 16 rugby team travelled to Ballyclare Rugby Club on Thursday last to play in the final of the
High Schools Plate.
It was a great achievement for this team to reach the final - in fact, some would say much unexpected.
In the quarter final they had defeated Banbridge High School 19-0 and in the semi-final they defeated Omagh High School 16-10.
Mr Watson the team coach knew that the opposition in the final, Ballynahinch High School, would be tough opposition as they
had knocked out the team that put Ballymoney out of the High Schools Cup.
The game started poorly for the Ballymoney team with Ballynahinch scoring right from the start. Indeed at half time we trailed
by 15 points to nil.
The big forwards from Ballynahinch were too strong for the Ballymoney defence even though they were a match in the scrum were Ballymoney held their own.
Immediately after half time Ballynahinch scored again and the Ballymoney team looked a beaten side. Ballynahinch went on to score 36 points. However it showed the character of the Ballymoney team when in the last five minutes of the game they
not only kept going but scored arguably the best try of the final. The ball was flashed along the Ballymoney back line.
Philip Beattie appeared in the centre position and he timed his pass to perfection giving the ball to left wing Uel Irwin. Uel rounded his man and then stepped inside the fullback to score a well-deserved try between the posts.
Aaron McAuley, the Ballymoney captain, added the conversion to leave the final score 36-7.
The Ballymoney lads came away from the final not only with their loser’s medals but with a memorable experience and the
incentive that there is always next year. Six of this team will be in the team next year as they are currently year 11. Forwards like Alastair Eakin, Adam Coulter, and Kundan Chaudhary should be scary opposition next year. Forwards like Lewis Orr, Daniel McCaw, and Adam Buick, if they were to get fully fit, would be an asset to any rugby team in the future.
The staff at the High school also appreciates the involvement of the players in the team whose first love would be football. If players like Luke Mitchell, Mark Dickson, Lewis Magee, Mark Mooney, and Uel Irwin had not played in the team it would never have reached the final.
Their running and handling skills coupled with a half back pairing of Stevie Culbertson and out half
Aaron McAuley, who really knew what they were at, were a joy to watch.
Well done to all the players involved and we wish you every success in your sporting career irregardless of the sport.