A fantastic five from Ballymoney Rugby Football Club have sensationally lined out for the Ulster Juniors squad.
The Toon recorded the highest number of players from any club to be selected for the provincial team.
The squad is made up of top-quality players from junior division teams across the province.
Selectors picked a new-look team with only four players having played before for the Ulster Juniors.
Ballymoney’s Scott Nelson is one of those players having featured in Ulster Junior squads over recent seasons.
Scott is joined by fellow Ballymoney players Aaron Ramage (Prop), David Campbell (backrow), Ben Henderson (Outhalf) and Cormac McCartney (fullback).
Ballymoney RFC chairman Craig Whyte hailed the achievement of his players and said it was a great boost for the club.
He said: “It is great for the club to have a representation in the Junior Ulster Squad and for the guys picked it is a fair reward for the committment and effort they have put in over the season.
“We wish them the best of luck and I have no doubt they will do both their fellow Ballymoney team mates and Ulster Junior squad members proud.”
Everyone connected with Ballymoney wished all the guys and the rest of the squad the best of luck ahead of Saturday’s game (5th May) away to Munster and for the rest of the inter-pro series.
Unfortunately on Saturday Ulster were beaten 34-15 by Munster.
However, two Ballymoney players shined for Ulster in the defeat by racking up all of the away side’s points.
Aaron Ramage and Cormac McCartney both scored tries, with Cormac kicking a conversion and penalty.
The last game is against Leinster at Larne RFC on Saturday 12th May with kick off at 2.30pm. For that match at Larne RFC it is hoped that Ballymoney RFC will be taking a bus.
If you are interested in going please contact Jonny Hanna or e-mail the website - www.ballymoneyrfc.com - for more information.
Ulster Juniors played their first inter-provincial match on Saturday 28th April against Connacht at Dromore RFC.
Unfortunately Ulster were narrowly beaten 10-13 against Connacht in a thrilling contest .
The five Ballymoney players all played their part with Cormac McCartney kicking a penalty and converting a try by Ballyclare’s Gary Clothworthy on 60 minutes to take the score to 10 - 7 in Ulster’s favour.
However a penalty on 70 minutes and another one on 75 minutes gave Connacht the 13-10 win.
Ulster took a 3-0 lead through the boot of McCartney but on 10 minutes Connacht scored a breakaway try to leave the score 3 - 7 at the interval.
Since Ballymoney’s promotion to Qualifying One back in 2008 they have had other players involved in the Junior Ulster team.
In the 1980s club players J McAllistar, James Morrison, Toss Skelton, Kenny Dunlop, John Waide and Davy Tweed all featured for Ulster Juniors with Kenny captaining the team on a number of seasons.
Tweed famously went on to play for the full Ulster team as well as making appearances for Ireland.
In the mid-90s Ballymoney’s good run of form in Qualifying Two saw a call-up for more players such as Darren Patrick, Nick Armstong and current coach Jason Taggart.
It is under the coaching of Jason Taggart and the combined hard work of the whole Ballymoney squad that has seen the high development of skills and fitness among the players that has raised them to this level.
The open, attacking style of rugby that Ballymoney plays has been developed since Jason came on as coach.
He has brought out the skill sets needed to play at the highest level.
The adaption of the squad to change to suit the development of the modern rugby game has also allowed them to be become a top table side in Qualifying One. Since 2008 past club captains James Carson, James Cleland, Jonny Hanna, Aidy Graham and Scott Nelson have all represented the Juniors with Aidy Graham captaining not only his own club team but also Junior Ulster.
Martin Irwin and Ryan Brace also featured in the team with Martin playing for two seasons before leaving for Ballymena 1XV last year.
Meet the players
Cormac McCartney is only in his second season with Ballymoney having come from Dalriada the year before.
This has been his first year at full-back and has shown the skill and pace to beat many defences in the league. For a young man he shows great maturity and has captained the 1st XV on a few occasions this year.
He also has the pressure of being Ballymoney and Junior Ulster’s place kicker.
David Campbell is a previous player-of-the-year at Ballymoney RFC. A hard-working back-row forward, he is well known in the league for his industry and tackle count.
David can play anywhere in the back row and is a favourable lineout jumper.
Again he started at open-side and led from the front against Connacht.
Ben Henderson has finished his first year of senior rugby playing 10 games for the 1st XV after coming out of school last year. He has hit the ground running and showed his skill and strength all year.
He is excellent in both attack and defence, with nothing getting past him easily. For a young man he coped well in his first Junior Ulster game starting at 10.
Aaron Ramage is one of the senior men of the 1st XV squad at Ballymoney RFC.
He joined the club in 2009 and has been a cornerstone of the squad since, winning the Towns Cup in 2010.
Aaron started the first game for Junior Ulster at loose head and is a key man in the scrum and lineout.
Scott Nelson brings along with Aaron the most experience, and his feet are always on the ground.
He is a natural leader on the pitch and can control a game from scrum half. With Scott starting at 9 and Ben at 10, it means the Junior Ulster half-backs are the Ballymoney half-backs.