Malone lose out to Dromore
By Stephen Barbour
Malone lose by 14-7 against Dromore in Junior Cup Semifinals
In front of a packed crowd at Barban Hill the home supporters got their wish when the 1st xv came through a difficult test against an experienced Malone team to make the Junior Cup Final at the Kingspan stadium on Wednesday the 2nd January 2019.
Dromore controlled the territory in the first twenty minutes with the visitors defence contesting every ball to frustrate their attempts to make an early break through with scrum half Lee Steenson pushing an early penalty attempt wide. When the break through came it was a simple pickup from a scrum by number 8 Ben Heath who moved the ball through the hands of Steenson out half David Lyttle and right winger Andrew Gilmore who joined the line for centre Andrew Rutledge to go in unopposed to touch down to the left of the post with Steenson unable to convert to leave Dromore 5 – 0 in front. Malone did come back forcing a lineout penalty deep in the Dromore twenty two. Good ball was swiftly moved across the pitch with left winger Jack McMurtry being tackled into touch five metres from the line. Dromore secured the lineout for Steenson to clear the danger into touch. The home side failed to take advantage of several good attacking scrum positions and penalties to add to their score. Another lineout this time allowed the ever popular prop Andrew Black who had replaced Jonny Simpson to be on the end of a rolling maul to touch down for his teams second try with Steenson adding the points to give his team a 12 – 0 half time lead.
Malone started the second half strongly as they applied pressure with their pack led by second row Lee Barlow and back row Matthew Fisher putting in the big hits as they continued to frustrate the efforts of the home side to extend their lead. Dromore were struggling to contain the Malone front row of Philip Eadie, Lee Barlow and Seif El Deen in the scrums. It was 15 minutes into the second half before Steenson added a further penalty to extend the Dromore lead to 15 – 0. Any thoughts this Malone team would give up the fight were dispelled as they dominated the final 20 minutes with the Dromore side having to dig deep in their defensive effort. Despite being reduced to 14 players after replacement Gary Crawford was yellow carded the Malone team kept the pressure on Dromore with second row Tiarnan Dillon and Captain Max Porter putting in a strong defensive effort to keep their team in the match. From a lineout Dillon secured ball for the backs and forwards to combine with Lee Barlow scoring a well deserved try with full back Bruce Duff adding the points to narrow the Dromore lead to 15 – 7. The visitors continued to dominate possession in the final 10 minutes but were unable to breach the well organised home defence. The final whistle sounded much to the relief of the large home support. Dromore coaches Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk were delighted with the win. The Malone team had shown a physicality Dromore will have to contend with when they play holders Ballynahinch seconds in the final at the Kingspan stadium on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
This will be the third time Dromore have contested the Junior Cup Final. They last contested the final in the 2004/5 season when they lost 33 – 18 to Ballymena seconds. Their only win came in the 1938/9 season when they defeated Coleraine 3 – 0 in the Final.
Ballynahinch seconds will be going for their third back to back success in the Junior Cup.
Both Dromore coaches Jonny Cullen and Jamie Kirk are former Ballynahinch players who played on the 1st xv with Jonny Cullen having Captained the team. With this being a local derby we are sure to see a big crowd present at the Kingspan stadium for this eagerly awaited Cup Final.
Malone seconds manager Davy Heron will be disappointed his team have lost out for the second consecutive season in the semi finals of the Junior Cup. He can be pleased his players played their part in a hard fought Cup tie that never lacked intensity from start to finish.
Dromore team: 1. Justin Savage, 2. Stuart Sloan, 3. Jonny Simpson, 4. Matthew McMaster, 5.Ross Bingham, 6. Adam McGregor, 7. Peter Elliott, 8. Ben Heath, 9. Lee Steenson, 10. David Lyttle, 11. Brian McClearn,12. Graeme McCandless, 13. Andrew Rutledge, 14. Andrew Rutledge, 15. Adam McDonald, 16. Andrew Black, 17. Fraser Mulholland, 18. Jonny Maguire, 19. Aaron Stewart, 20. Michael Allen.
Malone team: 1. Ricky Greenwood, 2. Philip Eadie, 3. Seif El Deen, 4. Tiarnan Dillon, 5. Lee Barlow, 6.Tom Dullage, 7. Matthew Fisher, 8. Max Porter (Capt), 9. Callum Jeffrey, 10. Connor Spence, 11. Jack McMurtry, 12. Gareth Millar, 13. Andy McConnell, 14. Jack Knox, 15. Bruce Duff, 16. Ali Barnes, 17. Charlie Shannon, 18. Gary Crawford.