2 months ago
By Stephen Barbour
The forty-fifth Guinness Carrick Sevens took place over the week-end of 28th to 30th April 2017. Main article contains the report
The forty-fifth Guinness Carrick Sevens took place over the week-end of 28th to 30th April 2017. Despite a reduced entry, the week-end produced some excellent and highly competitive matches, with most of the finals being being closely contested. While the strong breeze and cool conditions on Friday and Saturday were not ideal, at least the week-end was dry and that is not something that can always be said in this part of the world! All of the usual entertainment was on offer over the week-end and the Grim Reapers were once again in action selling their world famous Reaper Burgers. Their out-fits are definitely getting trendier each year, the burgers are larger and their manner of dealing with customers is becoming more polished although experts would advise avoiding remarks such as " be careful of your false teeth" as the merchandise is handed over!
The Tournament began as usual on Friday evening with the Kukri Under 18s Boys competition for the Everest Cup which had been won in the two previous years by Edinburgh College. This year, however, they met stiffer opposition from local sides and, in the end, had to settle for winning the Plate. In the semi-finals of the Cup competition they were well beaten by Go Ahead Eagles, a team associated with a well-known North Belfast School which has produced a number of Lions including one selected for this year's tour to New Zealand! In the other semi-final Dungannon defeated Randalstown. The strong Dungannon side then outscored Go Ahead Eagles by four tries to two in the final to take the Everest Cup which was presented to them at the end of the evening by former club President Johnson Everest. Dungannon also provided the the Player of the Tournament in Conor McGeough. Edinburgh College overcame Randalstown in the Plate final while Belfast Met defeated Ophir to take the Bowl.
The Quigg Golden Open competition on Saturday produced some very good matches with the Dungannon senior side this time proving to be the team to beat. In the group stages, Forrester fielded a team named in honour of tour stalwart Andy Inglis who sadly passed away during the year. After their success in winning the Bowl last year - with just a little help from Carrick - normal service was resumed with a 100% losing record, the only blemish being the fact that they accidentally scored a try against Carrick All Stars! The four group winners in the competition were NGN7s, BR Barbarians, Dungannon and Lisburn Exiles. BR Barbarians came together to honour the memory of Ben Robinson and, with the logo "Recognise /Remove"on their jersey reminded all concerned of the need to take action if a head injury is suspected during a sporting event. The Lisburn Exiles team, composed mainly of Fijian players, was making a welcome return after their absence last year. The semi-final game between NGN7s and BR Barbarians ended in a 28 points apiece draw and was decided by a golden try scored by the Barbarians in extra time. In the other semi-final, Dungannon beat the strong Lisburn Exiles side by 22 points to 10. The final was keenly contested but, despite a late BR Barbarians rally, Dungannon ran out winners, scoring four tries to their opponents' three. The Player of the Tournament award went to Dungannon's Nico Aholelei. The Plate was won by Edinburgh College who defeated Queen's Pirates in the final . Carrick side Warriors beat Instonians to win the Bowl final thanks partly to a storming second half display from Johnny Sheriff. At the conclusion of the competition the Holmes Salver was presented to the winning Dungannon side by Roger Holmes accompanied by Eddie Quigg of Quigg Golden.
Sunday was Ladies Day, with the Guinness Qualifying Ladies tournament and the Mid & East Antrim Ladies Development competition taking place. On what was probably the best day of the week-end in terms of weather, the crowd was treated to some highly competitive matches. In the Ladies Development competition the qualifiers for the semi-finals were Carrick, Queen's, Lisburn Harlequins and Malone. Carrick defeated a well organised Queen's side by 15 points to 10 while Lisburn Harlequins had a slightly easier passage beating Malone by 26 points to 12. The final was a hard fought affair, with Lisburn's two first half tries offsetting Carrick's effort late in the game to leave Lisburn Harlequins as winners . The Player of the Tournament award went to Leah Broden of Lisburn Harlequins.
Because of a smaller than hoped for entry, the Guinness Qualifying Ladies tournament was played on a League basis with the top two teams contesting the Cup final and third and fourth placed teams playing for the Bowl. Cavan, who have been strong supporters of the Carrick Sevens in recent years , fielded two teams and, in the event, these two ended up playing for the Bowl, with Cavan 1 reversing the result of the group match to take the trophy. In the Cup final, Malone defeated Ballynahinch, running in four unanswered tries. Hazel Jordan of Malone was adjudged to be Player of the Tournament.
At the conclusion of play, Malone were presented with the FLP Salver by the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales and Lisburn Harlequins were presented with the Lynda Waring Memorial Cup by Lynda's son Milo. The President of Carrickfegus Rugby Club, Craig Addley, presented a cheque for £1,000 to the Wooden Spoon Charity.The cheque was received on behalf of the charity by the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough. In his concluding remarks, Craig Addley once again thanked the sponsors Guinness,Quigg Golden,Kukri, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and NK Fencing without whose support support an event like the Sevens simply could not take place.
While the entry was down again this year, possibly in part a reflection of the seemingly ever-lengthening League season, the Guinness Carrick Sevens produced some entertaining rugby over the week-end and the crowds who came to support and watch certainly seemed to enjoy the occasion.
Updated 19:47 - 1 May 2017 by Stephen Barbour