Malone win their opening Senior Cup game against City of Derry
Malone win their opening Senior Cup game against City of Derry By 47-3
Match report by George Millar
It was a welcome return for Malone 1st and 2nd xv's to Gibson Park after both teams suffered opening day defeats at Banbridge and Larne. With Road works a feature in East Belfast at present; Daddy Winkers Lane is undergoing a facelift. This barrier that separates Gibson Park Avenue (Access off Cregagh Road) and Ladas Way (Access off Ladas Drive) was my first surprise to see that the pot holed Road adjacent to the Rugby Club had been resurfaced. 'Not before time'. As you entered Gibson Park the impact off ongoing works to the clubhouse and the refurbished playing surfaces now available to coaches and players reflected the hard work put in by the clubs commitees to complete the clubs ambitious developments plans to celebrate the club's 125th Anniversary in 2017/18.
Familiar faces welcomed you with Ulster Captain Chris Henry fresh from leading his Ulster side to a winning start against the Cheetahs on Friday night helping Club coaches Paddy Armstrong, Josh Pentland and Mark Taylor prepare the Malone 1st xv for their First Trust Senior Cup 1st round match with City of Derry. With both teams actively involved in their pre match routines the 2nd xv guided by their two club stalwarts Davy Heron and Sam McBurney were doing likewise on the adjoining pitch as they warmed up for their Conference league match with Ards 1st xv.
Standing in between the two pitches you appreciate the facilities now in place at Gibson Park. Not only has the club an outdoor gym there is increased seating alongside the 1st's pitch with the magnificent clubhouse now dominating the landscape.
Spectators were not disappointed by the early action on both pitches as strained necks of supporters tried to keep up with the action. The 1st xv dominated the first quarter against City of Derry with no points to show for their efforts. Against the run of play the North West side took an early lead when their out half Alex McDonnell converted a 25 metre penalty.
On the adjoining pitch Malone seconds scored a try through scrum half Chris Rowan to lead 5- 0 against Ards.
The early score by City of Derry brought about a second quarter response from Malone with three converted tries scored by Michael Shields, Dan Kerr (2) with Rory Campbell converting all three to give Malone an 21 - 3 lead at halftime.
Could the seconds maintain their bright start. Two further tries scored by Jonny Ogilby and the strong running Gareth Millar gave their side a 15 - 0 lead at halftime.
Malone firsts dominated the second half against their North West opponents scoring a further four tries through Michael Shields, Dave Cave, Shane Kelly and Michael Cartmill with Rory Campbell converting 3/4 to leave the final score 47 - 3 in favour of the East Belfast side.
It was not all plain sailing for Malone 2nds with visitors Ards scoring two converted tries to narrow the Malone lead to 15 - 14 with five minutes to go. With the firsts game blown up all eyes were on the 'Red Sox' seconds. A strong finish produced their fourth try with full back Jack Knox closing out the game to leave the final score 20 - 14 in their favour.
Rugby was clearly the winner on the day at Gibson Park. It was interesting to note the discussions on the touchline with several new faces turning out for the 1st xv along with how the Youth and Mini Sections of the club having resumed playing in the morning.
What struck you about this club is the passion at all levels to provide an environment with structures to support the men's and women's games that
are thriving at Gibson Park. It is interesting to note the strong links the Ulster players including Ross Kane, Callum Smith and Jack Owens have with the club. Both Callum and Jack who starred for the 1st xv last season will be joined by Ulster Academy players Peter Cooper, Joe Dunleavy, Matthew Dalton and Stuart Doddington at Gibson Park this season.
Malone 1st xv v City of Derry
1. Dane Fitzpatrick, 2. Dan Kerr, 3. Phil Eadie, 4. Josh Davidson, 5. Michael Shiels, 6. Dave Cave, 7. Ross Todd (Captain), 8. Ryan Clarke, 9. Shane Kelly, 10. Josh Pentland, 11. David Irvine, 12. Nathan Brown, 13. Michael Cartmill, 14. Rory Campbell, 15. David McMaster, 16. Scott Finlay, 17. Lee Barlow, 18. Max Porter, 19 Ryan Spence, 20 Connor Spence.
Malone Head coach Paddy Armstrong made nine changes to his starting xv for this Senior Cup match after their late 29 - 27 defeat at Banbridge in their opening Ulster Premiership match.
Next week Malone travel to play City of Derry at Judges Road in the Ulster Premiership before they make the long journey to Nenagh Ormond in County Tipperary for their opening All Ireland League match on Saturday 16th September.
Malone 2nds v Ards 1st xv
1. Ben Halliday, 2. Austen Blackburn, 3. Ricky Greenwood (Captain), 4. Andrew Bailey, 5. Tiarnan Dillon, 6. Josh Ferguson, 7. Jonny Ogilby, 8. Neil Alcorn, 9. Chris Rowan, 10 Bruce Duff, 11. Hugh Thompson, 12. Michael Browne, 13. Gareth Miller, 14. James Rae, 15. Jack Knox, 16. Jonny Caskey, 17 Dean Hewitt.
If you want to learn more about Malone rugby club go to the clubs website and explore its menu.
Personal contact :
President: Patrick 'Chippy' Baird. M 07802622222
Chairman: Michael Kearney. M 07803271183
Secretary: Raymond Thomas. M 07815803527
Gary Browne. M 07533527668
Secretary Lisa O'Connor. M 07516543682.