Just over 12 months ago Davy Buchanan was left devastated on the Kingspan Stadium turf as Enniskillen’s challenge for the Towns Cup came up just short.
This season Buchanan will be captain as the Mullaghmeen men bid to erase the memory of that defeat to Bangor last Easter Monday.
If he’s being honest, the prospect of raising the venerable old trophy stirs him less than his gratitude for the opportunity to atone for last year’s defeat so quickly.
“It’s a fantastic occasion for everybody involved with the club and we’re very fortunate to have made the final again this year, after the result didn’t go our way last year.
” After leaving school I played in the first Towns Cup final we reached in a long time in 2007. After that I had to wait ten years before I got another opportunity to run out in the final. To get back there again this year to try and right the result and win it third time lucky, as an Enniskillen man, it would be a fantastic success.
It would be a testament to the level of commitment shown by players of the club over the years, to the supporters that we’ve had and to our sponsors as well and to the general community who have supported us over the years.
“I’ve assumed the captaincy this year from Alan Wilkinson who has had to step down from the first 15 and we have lost another few players from last year. We have been lucky in that the boys who have come in have really bought into the systems under Willie [Gibson] and Stevie [Welsh], our coaches. They have worked hard and trained our and have come into their own.
“Yes, there are going to be experienced heads who were there last year and who will have felt the disappointment of having lost last year. We’ll all be hoping to right that and bring a good honest performance on Easter Monday. That’s what we have to focus on, our own team and our own performance.”
While Skins Head Coach Willie Gibson has identified improved forward play as the platform for the side’s success this year, Buchanan insists the back line carries, if anything, a sharper cutting edge than it did this time last year.
“There’s no doubt that first phase play starts from the scrums and line outs, and if we can win the battle up front and provide good clean ball to the backs we have a talented back line who will put away scores and we’ve seen that throughout the course of the season.
“Robert Baloucoune is an excellent talent. It’s great to see a young lad, just out of school contributing in the way he has to our team. He is one of what will be a 20 man squad on Easter Monday, but with injuries across the season we’ve had to call on other boys, so it has really been a club effort to get us this far.”
Ballynahinch’s second 15 got the better of Clogher Valley in what was a bruising semi-final. Buchanan knows that the side will not only be formidable opponents, but that they will be keenly motivated to get a result on Easter Monday afternoon.
“The start of the match will be a key component in deciding the outcome of the result. We let Bangor get an early start on us last year and we were playing catch up. We’ll be able to take the experience from that. We’ll be looking to shut that down with our defence, which has been good in previous games, especially in the semi-final.
“Ballynahinch are one of the top five in Ulster rugby and they have a large and talented pool to draw from. They are the current Junior Cup winners and they will be looking for a result on the day to complete a rare cup double.
“But when it comes to cup rugby, there are no favourites. It’s about concentrating on your own performance and if you can impose your style of play and patterns on the opposition then that should have a big bearing on the results.”
Another factor Buchanan hopes will be a feature in the final is a large Enniskillen travelling support and he called for a big showing from the Mullaghmeen faithfull in the Kingspan on Monday.
“It’s an old adage, but anywhere you go that extra bit of support is like a 16th man. We certainly noticed that with the large attendance at the home semi-final against Armagh. It’s much appreciated and I’ve not doubt there’ll be a large contingent up to support the Skins on Easter Monday. In the tougher moments in a game that extra bit of support can really help.”
Posted: 5:29 pm April 16, 2017