Enniskillen u15…….. 27
Carrickfergus u15…… 5
Enniskillen rugby fans will be hoping the performance of Skins under 15s will be the catalyst for the future at Mullaghmeen.
Having already secured the Ulster Carpets Regional League title earlier in the season the young players secured a place in the Ulster Plate final against Carrickfergus RFC at the Mid Ulster Sports Complex.
The Co. Antrim side were undoubted favorites going into Saturdays game, on account of playing in the top flight of youth rugby and also having a much larger squad than the Fermanagh lads, however right from the kick off it was evident that the Skins players had other ideas.
Playing in to a very strong wind they immediately put Carrick under pressure with aggressive running and impressive handling from the forwards allowed stand in scrum half Michael O’Hare to utilize the pace of Skin’s back line. The pressure paid dividends and after only five minutes their strategy was rewarded when center Tyler Millar outpaced the opposing defense to open the scoring with the first try. Captain Jarlath Maguire was unsuccessful with the consequent conversion with the Fermanagh side narrowly leading 5-0.
A second score soon followed after great team work with the forwards stamping their authority on the opposing pack. Led by Jamie Kelly and Rory Morris, Enniskillen were making large inroads against the Carrick defensive line and very quick ball allowed for the rest of the pack to drive forward into Carrick’s 22. With Skin’s just 10 yards out, young Millar was not going to be stopped and recorded his second try and increased the lead to 10 points.
Things were not going Carrick’s way and after the restart kick was blown out of play Enniskillen decided to take a scrum on the half way line. A powerful engage from the dominant front five provided Kelly with the perfect opportunity to brake off from No.8 and the enthusiastic youngster showed great strength to initiate a great phase of offloading rugby which again released Millar to secure his hat-trick of tries. The final try was again unconverted as the two sides went in at half time with the score 15-0
Carrickfergus must be commended for the way in which they tried to come back in the second half, with their backs becoming more committed after the break and putting several phases together to pressurize the Enniskillen defense.
Carrickfergus were finally rewarded for their efforts. Several infringements led the referee to penalize the Fermanagh outfit. Carrick needn’t have been asked twice as their forwards gathered the ball to drive over the line and register their team’s first points of the afternoon.
With the game now poised at 15-5 the Skins players began to play the conditions, now with the wind at their backs captain Maguire punted several excellent kicks into the corners to push the opposition back into their own 22. With Enniskillen applying the pressure they eventually won a line-out against the throw. O’Hare gathered the ball smartly and spun a brilliant pass to Maguire who crossed the line for Enniskillen’s fourth try of the day.
With a commanding lead, Enniskillen regathered possession quickly and with the impressive Maguire again putting the defense under pressure with an expertly judged kick, the Fermanagh side were awarded a penalty. Taken quickly the ball was recycled through several phases with Aiden McKenna and Boyd Carson taking it forward and allowing the pack to again drive into Carrickfergus territory, from the resulting ruck young Scallon broke through to score under the post and give Jarlath the satisfaction of rounding off his days work with a conversion and a winning margin of 27 to 5 for the Enniskillen team.
Saturdays win was just reward for the boys from Mullaghmeen and they should be very proud of the way they handled both today,s match and the season as a whole, having only been beaten twice since September in all competitions.
It bodes well for the future of rugby in the county as we can look back on the 2013/2014 season when all our youth teams have enjoyed excellent results and look forward to next season with the anticipation of continued success.