Ballmoney fifths welcomed Randelstown to Kilraughts Road as John Waide, the current fifth’s captain, provided an historic moment for himself and the club as he played his 700th game for Ballymoney RFC. Conditions were good as the sun shone and a light breeze blew across the pitch.
The fifths normal squad was bolstered with some familiar faces from years gone by, all eager to play their part and share this special day with John. Desi Nevin, Neil Brown, Barney Kelly, Brendan McCaughey, Jerome McAllister, Kenny Dunlop, Mark Rea, Richard Johnston, Robert Adams, Shaun Boyd, Alan Campbell, Uel McDowell, Peter Shields all came temporally out of retirement to make cameo appearances. Although some of the substitutes did not stay on the pitch as long as they intended, perhaps a sign of the modern physical game, none looked out of place and all made their impact on the match.
It has been quite a number of weeks since the fifths played their last match. The enthusiasm was evident as the home side dominated the early exchanges; however the finishing was not clinical, as a lot of good early chances were not taken. It was Jerome McAllister who opened the scoring with a penalty mid way through the first half. This seemed to settle the home side who followed up with two good tries.
Firstly Andy Mcnaugher finished well in the corner, showing good pace to beat his opposite man. Next it was Ian Johnston to touch down after the fives’ set up one of their trade mark mauls, following a line out deep in the Randelstown 22’. This left the half time score 12 – 0 to the home side.
Changes were made at early in second half, which saw more of the large squad introduced to the game. Alan Campbell replaced Peter Shields, to start a new half back partnership with the classy Kenny Dunlop. Desi Nevin looked sharp along with Neil Brown, however not all went to plan as Richard Johnston’s introduction lasted approximately 60 seconds as a split eye and popped knee ending his dream comeback.
Uel McDowell replaced Richard, shortly after advising the large crowd that he was going to demonstrate how he could “hook the ball in the scrum with his head”.
Unfortunately Uel did not get the opportunity to show off his party trick as he was stretchered off moments later with a lower leg injury.
Ballymoney then extended their lead with a super try from Ian’s son, Neil Johnston. Neil sprinted in from around the half way line after a slick move from the Ballymoney back line. Randelstown fought back with a try from their number eight. However it was the home side who charged forward again. Jerome McAllister racing in for the touch-down, after some great work in the loose from the Ballymoney forwards. John Waide, Barney Kelly and Brendan McCaughey to the fore.
Randelstown scored a consolation try, however it did not dampen the celebrations at the final whistle. Ballymoney comfortable winners by 25 points to 12. John Waide unanimously voted man of the match.
A big congratulation to John Waide on this magnificent achievement and it was testament to the large crowd which came out to support John at this momentous occasion.