Sports round-up from across north Antrim

North Antrim MLA Daith� McKay pictured with Dunloy men James McLean, Sean McErlain and Jimmy Gaston.
North Antrim MLA Daith� McKay pictured with Dunloy men James McLean, Sean McErlain and Jimmy Gaston.

NORTH ANTRIM

McKay launches consultation on sports club rates

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has launched a consultation on his proposals to make Amateur Sports Clubs exempt from paying rates.

The MLAsaid that there was a huge public interest in the Bill and that over 300 sports organisations and individuals had responded to the document within 48 hours of its publication.

He said: “The consultation for this Bill will run for twelve weeks but already we’ve been taken aback by the level of public interest in this proposal. There really is huge diversity in the number of sports clubs that have responded to this and the sports codes that have replied already include cricket, rugby, hockey, tennis, boxing, karate, soccer, basketball, Gaelic games, weightlifting, rowing and athletics.

“This proposal will help reduce the financial pressure on many clubs that are playing a vital role in terms of public health, youth provision and community development. The cost of this is minuscule in terms of the Executive budget and it needs to be viewed in regard to securing longer term returns in Health, Justice and other departments. It is an ‘Invest to save’ proposal.

“In the past there has been cross party support for making amateur sports clubs rates exempt and I hope that this will be the case when the Bill comes to the Assembly next year. This legislation will make a real difference to the future of local sport clubs.”

ballymoney

Ballymoney Blaze

On Monday 18th November 2013, Ballymoney Blaze 2nds started their season against one of their toughest rivals Portadown Aztecs. Both teams were set for a tough and challenging match, hoping to make a good start to the season.

The first set saw the debut of Gavin McCaughern, one of Blaze’s latest recruits. Blaze started off well with some fantastic serving by Captain John White. Aztecs were not going to let this streak continue and broke the service after 5 points. After some brilliant hitting by Matthew Bertenshaw (Blaze) and Colin Kirkland (Aztecs) the set continued neck and neck, closing with a very tight score line, having to go to two clear points, with a score of 28-26 to Blaze.

In the time before the second set, Coach Johnny McClenaghan discussed some new tactics with the team and what errors to avoid in the second set. The second set also saw the debut of one of Blaze’s newest players Daniel White. It proved to be another extremely tight set with Aztecs taking theset with a score of 26-24.

The third set started off just as the other two had finished, with both teams battling for the win. The teams were well matched and no one seemed to be pulling ahead. But after some string serving by Aztecs, they started to pull ahead. Before long Aztecs has a substantial lead of 20-10. Despite all efforts, Blaze were unable to gain the points they had lost during Callum Russell’s service. The set finished with a great result for the away Aztecs side, with a score of 25-15.

Going into the fourth set Blaze were down two sets to one. Both teams got off to a strong start, sitting neck and neck for the first part of the set. Again, Aztecs started pulling ahead mid-set. At this point Player coach, Johnny McClenaghan made some tactical substitutions. Among these substitutions was Jonah Myer, making his debut for the club. At this point, Daniel and Ciaran White were also brought on. These young players demonstrated some great skill, showing a promising future for the club. Blaze played exceptionally well for the young team that they were, but unfortunately lost the fourth and final set 25-18 to Aztecs.

The final score of the match ending 3-1, with a win for away team Portadown Aztecs. Blaze would like to thank first and second ref, Johnny Workman and Jeff Scott and score keeper and assistant score keeper, Sarah Scott and Emma Kennedy. MVPs of the match were Blaze’s middle hitter Matthew Bertenshaw and Aztecs middle hitter Colin Kirkland.

ballymoney

Ballymoney prepare for big semi-final showdown

Preview: Ballymoney vs Ballynahinch 2nd XV, Ulster Junior Cup Semi Final, 30th November

Ballymoney face a tough Ballynahinch side for a place at Ravenhill.

On Saturday, Ballymoney welcome Ballynahinch 2s to Kilraughts Road, in what promises to be an excellent semi-final.

Ballymoney got through the quarter final against Donaghadee on a wet and windy day. James Campbell’s boot was the difference then, scoring all 15 points - but more impressive was the defence, keeping a lively Dee side off the scoreboard.

Hinch had the tougher tie, defeating reigning Kukri Qualifying league champions Portadown 27-18. Hinch showed a lively back three on the counter-attack, and a worthy forward pack to win the ball from an aggressive Portadown side. And, lest we forget, Portadown edged a tight battle 10-3 with the Toon two weeks ago.

Advantage Hinch, then? Not necessarily. Travelling has always made a difference in this league, and the home advantage must be made to work in the Toon’s favour.

Up front, the pack is a Toon strength, and with Jonny Hanna returning from absence, and John Richmond’s return to form, there is much to choose from for coach Jason Taggart. Most pleasing this season has been the step up made from last season’s second team - Andy Gardiner, Sam Kyle, and Garvin Bellingham are now first team regulars - all showing strength and dogged determination. Alex Houston’s return after missing all of last season is also a welcome boost.

It is out wide, though, that the influence of backs coach Neil Beddow is really showing through. Where last season chances were going missing, chances are being created this year. James Cleland is opening up gaps to put the back three through, and James Campbell is starting to dictate the field position to attack from. With the right platform, and quick service, the Toon back line is capable of doing some real damage to any defensive lineup.

It is a match to be savoured, and if the weather reports hold true, we will see a strong game of rugby, battled hard up front, and with real menace out wide from both sides.

The final is in sight for the winners - 18th December at Ravenhill. The opponents will be decided in Coleraine, where the hosts entertain Kukri 2 leaders Ballyclare, in what is sure to be another excellent game.

Ballymoney 2s win 42-13 atMalone

Ballymoney 2s got another good win under their belt away to Malone 3s. In a good, flowing game of rugby, both sides had plenty of chances, but it was the Toon who made the most of their opportunities.

Tries came from Thomas Knight (2), Matty Blair and David Michael in the front row, and Simon Mcrea at fullback.

Neil Mulholland had another strong game and was named man of the match for a hard running 80 minutes.

In the only other game of the day, the 5th XV lost 38-3 away to Larne 3s.

ballyMONEY

Maxol mini-rugby

The Maxol Group has announced its sponsorship of the Ulster Mini Rugby Programme. The partnership will see leading forecourt convenience retailer Maxol hold the title of the official sponsor of Ulster Mini Rugby until 2015.

Mini Rugby is the introductory level of the sport throughout Ulster in which boys and girls aged 6-12 gain their first taste of the sport and begin to learn the basic skills.

The sponsorship deal over 2 years includes 32 Mini Rugby Festivals which are expected to involve more than 4,000 children from over 44 local rugby clubs and 200 rugby-playing primary schools across Ulster. It marks a major investment by The Maxol Group in local sport across the region and is an ideal fit with the brand , reinforcing its brand ethos ‘at the heart of’ local communities across Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the announcement, Brian Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer of The Maxol Group, said: “We are delighted to be the new title sponsor of the Ulster Mini Rugby Programme. This is an excellent opportunity for Maxol and our retailers to demonstrate our commitment to grassroots rugby and really deliver on our brand position to be ‘at the heart of it’ across all of the local communities in Ulster.”

The partnership was welcomed by Phillip Polack, Business Development Manager of Ulster Rugby, who said: “At Ulster Rugby we really want to give kids a taste for the sport at an early age and help to develop and nurture their relationship with the sport. Maxol really supports local communities through its extensive network of service stations, so it is a great partner for our Mini Rugby Programme.”

The Mini Rugby Festivals supported by Maxol will kick off on 30th November at Newry and Limavady Rugby Clubs, where children from surrounding clubs will take part in a series of rugby games. Each Festival will be attended by some well-known names from the Ulster Rugby squad who will meet and greet the young fans.

You can find out more about the Ulster Mini Rugby Programme by visiting www.ulsterrugby.com or visit www.maxol.com

Dates of Ulster Mini Rugby Festival supported by Maxol

Ballymoney - 1st March 201410am - U7s (P3)

Further club and primary school festival dates to be added over the course of the season.

COLERAINE

Eoghan Rua awards

Eoghan Rua Coleraine held their annual presentation of awards in the Royal Court Hotel, Portush.

Special guests for the evening were the Derry county chairman John Keenan, the chair of Ulster Camogie Kathleen Woods and Derry Camogie chair Maura McCloy.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of medals to the triple winning camogie side.

A fantastic season that began with the Eoghan Rua camogs winning the Derry Premier league continued to deliver as they went on to regain the Derry and win the Ulster senior championship.

for the first time.