Last Wednesday Dalriada 1st XV took on RS Armagh in the quarter final of the Subsidiary Shield at home and in a tight encounter a second half try was enough for the visitors to go through 14-3.
The game started with RS Armagh enjoying an abundance of possession and employing a very dynamic game with a lot of play revolving around their half backs and back row.
Dalriada defended very well against the threat with captain Matthew Glenn and open side Chris McKee tackling ferociously. Both sides were able to control their set piece possession and a lot of play moved between the 22s.
Armagh broke the stalemate first with a breakdown infringement was punished by a straightforward penalty.
As has been the case all season Dalriada responded and came right back at Armagh with now the midfield backs of Laughlin and Allen starting to make inroads to the Armagh defence and with Nathan Steele in at out half finding the runners with some excellent flat passing.
The pressure told and when Armagh strayed off side at a ruck John Laughlin was able to slot a 40 metres penalty to level the score. Certainly Dalriada finished the half on top leaving honours even at half time.
The RS Armagh team were certainly the more worried team while Dalriada were able to draw upon their cup experience, this being their fifth cup match.
Certainly the home team were the positive taking the field for the second half. The front row players Peter McCully, Andrew McWilliams and the excellent Andrew Marks all started to really make an impact taking the ball into contact and leading the way with turnovers at the breakdown.
Indeed the Dalriada side were probably unlucky not to take the lead early on in the half, however it was Armagh who broke out and some excellent scrambling defence by Jack Magee managed only to concede a penalty which they duly kicked.
From this point on the Armagh team grew in confidence and launched waves of attack and through a break in the centre were able to stretch the Dalriada defence from one side to the other to score in the corner.
The conversion was missed leaving the score 11-3. Dalriada tried to respond but could not break down the stubborn visitors’ defence.
Armagh managed to add a further penalty meaning Dalriada would have to score twice. They made a valiant effort to keep the ball alive trying to get their pacy wingers into play but conditions did not suit that type of game as Armagh kicked deep to seal off the match.
Certainly it was a brave effort by all concerned and there was an air of what might had been.
Dalriada 1st XV can look back on this cup run with a large degree of satisfaction with the team’s development and performances over the season, they have certainly ‘punched above their weight’ and have again re emphasised that Dalriada rugby is as strong and competitive as any of the best teams in Ulster.