Ballynahinch U14 Lose Out In Cup At Kingspan

Ballynahinch U14s lose Cup Final at Kingspan Stadium to Virginia

Ballynahinch U14s lose Cup Final at Kingspan Stadium to Virginia

Colin Donaldson took his U14 squad to Kingspan on Saturday to face Provincial League champions Virginia writes James Kirk.

Despite holding their own in terms of possession and territory, the U14s could not find the cutting edge to trouble their physically bigger opponents who took their chances superbly to dominate the scoreboard.

Adam Blain during the Ulster Carpets U14 Development Cup between Ballynahinch U14 and Virginia at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.( Photo by John Dickson/Dickson Digital ©).

Ballynahinch dominated the first fifteen minutes with the match taking place almost entirely in the Virginia half.

However, they rarely threatened the opposing tryline despite willing carries from the likes of Adam Blain and Thomas McPhillips.

Callum McCargo hands off a Virginia defender.

Conditions made it difficult to move the ball wide but outhalf Joshua Woods kicked with plenty of variety.

The vocal County Down crowd were hopeful that the points would come.

Virginia scored with their first attack when abrasive number 8 Eoin Clarke attacked the blindside off a scrum and blasted through the Ballynahinch defence to score.

Then disaster struck just before half-time when Virginia drove into the Ballynahinch 22, sucked in the defence and then kicked cross field to their winger.

He looked certain to score until a sensational cover tackle cut him down just short of the line.

However a superb off load to supporting player Killian Walsh sent him over the try-line and when Milo Stafford converted the try Ballynahinch found themselves twelve points down at half-time.

Joshua Woods in action during the Ulster Carpets U14 Development Cup between Ballynahinch U14 and Virginia U14 .

The next score would be crucial and Ballynahinch looked certain to get themselves on the board early in the second half when they camped on the Virginia line.

A couple of quick passes would have sent them over as Virginia were too narrow in defence

However, a knock-on as they attempted to drive over the line saw the chance missed and when Virginia scored through Alex Dowd to take a seventeen point lead there was no comeback for Ballynahinch.

In the closing moments Virginia scored the best try of the match with backs and forwards inter-passing through multiple phases and eventually working winger Sean O’Neill over in the corner to put the gloss on a well-deserved 22-0 victory.  

James Graham powers forward against Virginia.

The uneven structure of Youth Rugby in Ulster has meant that despite being one of the leading sides in their age category, Ballynahinch U14 have been playing in the Regional League, a competition they dominated and were rarely challenged.

Virginia played in the Provincial League which provided stronger opposition on a weekly basis and they clearly benefitted from that kind of preparation.

While they battled against other Provincial league sides to reach the final it was clear on Saturday that the likes of Adam Blain and Callum McCargo faced a level of physicality in defence that they hadn’t previously encountered.

Ethan Donaldson makes a quick pass in the Ulster Carpets U14 cup final at Kingspan Stadium against Virginia.

And the star Ballynahinch midfield of James Graham and Harvey Campbell had much less space than they were used to.

The boys will be disappointed but have had a brilliant season and made their coaches, parents and club proud.

They took their defeat with dignity and can look forward to the youth rugby awards night on Friday to cap an excellent season at youth level for the club.

Ballynahinch U14s 1-23: Thomas McPhillips, Oliver Kinnear, Ryan McMullan, Jack Patterson, Callum McCargo, Owen Hamill, Tiernan McCann, Adam Blain, Ethan Donaldson, Joshua Woods, Maxwell Buchanan, James Graham, Harvey Campbell, Jackson Buchanan, Jack Fallon, Daniel Graham, Charlie Willis, Curtis Johnston, Ronan Hodge, Josh McKibbin, Ross Cherry, John Brown.