Ballymoney aim to crack Coleraine in Easter rugby final

Ballymoney Rugby 1st pictured with coach Jason Taggart.INBM14-12 240JC
Ballymoney Rugby 1st pictured with coach Jason Taggart.INBM14-12 240JC

Ballymoney 2nd XV are aiming for glory when they play Coleraine 2nd XV in the final of the Crawford Cup on Easter Tuesday 10 April. Kick off will be at 2.30pm.

Ballymoney 2s have made history as this is the first time Ballymoney have been to the final of the Crawford Cup.

The last success for the 2nd XV was in the Foster Cup which is the competition for the lower Junior leagues.

The 2nd XV have progressed the last 5 years to see them develop into one of the top teams in junior rugby. They currently lie 2nd in the league and are guaranteed a top 3 finish.

However Tuesday’s match is made even more significant as Ballymoney play Coleraine, in a Ravenhill Derby match with Coleraine currently topping the Junior league 1 standings.

The 2nd XV is led by Captain John Bellingham and he stated this week: “The guys are really up for this match. Preparation is going well at the minute and everyone available is fully fit.

“We had a number of guys who started the cup run, but are cup tied as they appeared for the 1st XV in the Towns Cup so we start with the same team that won the semi-final in Dungannon.

“The squad has been together over the past 3 years and is made up of a number of players from our own youth system and from Dalriada School.

“We are a young side but what we lack in experience we make up for in heart. We have been beat in the quarter finals the past years but we all had a positive feeling this year and the hard work paid off. A number of the players have featured for the 1st XV this year and that experience should pay off. Coleraine beat us twice in the league and are sitting in top position so they are probably going into the game as favourites on paper, but it is a derby game and Ballymoney has shown over the years that you can’t be under estimated in a derby game and form goes out the window”

Club President John Campbell stated: “The club has been going from strength to strength over the past number of years. We finished this year with 1st, 2nd 3rd, and 4th XV being placed in the top positions in their leagues.

“We started a 5th XV as well last year and they have been growing in strength with a number of new guys taking up rugby for the first time. The big development has been in the development of youth players both through our own youth system and that of the local schools.

“The 2nd XV will take to Ravenhill with a large number of players from our own youth set-up and 7 of these guys played in the same U16 team that reached the Nutty Crust Floodlight Cup Final.”

John Campbell has another reason to be passionate about the final as his son James will be playing. He is also joined by Thomas Skelton and Stuart Nevin who are sons of current executive members Toss Skelton and Desmond Nevin.

Head Coach Jason Taggart states: “We don’t have a 1st’s and a 2nd’s at training but instead we have one large squad.

“The gap between the players from both teams is less and less and this has been shown by the recent success from both teams in the past number of years. A number of the guys have all featured for the 1st XV this year and a lot have really pushed for starting positions. Training has been going well and we have been working towards Tuesday and I have no doubt the motivation will be right to go out and win the cup. Although Coleraine will be favourites this is a derby and with derby games anything can happen. Ballymoney was always the Nearly Men but we turned that around in 2010 when the 1st XV won the Towns Cup and made history and now it’s the time of the 2nd XV to do the same and the whole club is behind them.”

Supporters wishing to go on the buses are asked to meet at the Club between 11am and 11.30am. There are plans for a light brunch before buses depart at 12.15pm. Spaces for the buses can be reserved by leaving your name with the bar staff on 028 2766 2991. Bus will cost £10. Entertainment and food will be organised for the club that evening so why not make a day of it? Come on the Toon!