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Forster Cup: Braid hope to prove experience is key

By Ronnie Ingram

Published 18/04/2015

Influence: Gary Longwell is coach of Randalstown II
Influence: Gary Longwell is coach of Randalstown II

The Forster Cup final will be a contest of experience against youth when Ballymena V take on Randalstown II at the Kingspan this afternoon (1.00pm).

The mighty Eaton Park team, who are the holders and have won the trophy on seven occasions, are packed full of players who have been involved with senior rugby for seasons.

Their average age is 45 and they are captained by 54-year-old Davy Laughlin. The holders of the Ravenhill Cup have a formidable front row of Davy McNeill, hooker David Gaston and Jimmy Allen with Paul McBride, son of Willie John, in the second row.

Manager Peter Crabbe, who was captain for 21 seasons, feels that his team is technically sound but may have lost some of their earlier pace. He said: "We still know what to do and when to do it and that combined with the camaraderie on and off the pitch is the secret of our success."

Randalstown II have had an impressive season, winning the Junior 4 crown after going undefeated. In contrast, they are made up of mainly 18 to 21-year-olds with the eldest being 25.

Coached by Alastair Strange and Gary Longwell, their enthusiastic manager Gregor Sloane is looking forward to the challenge.

"History is being made as this is the first time one of our senior teams has played at Headquarters," he said. "It has been a remarkable season so far for such a young squad that will progress further in years to come."

Following this decider, Larne will play Limavady in the Gordon West final at 3pm. In the Forster Plate showpiece, Ballymoney III face Instonians III at Ballyclare while the Crawford Plate finalists Clogher Valley II and Bangor II meet at Lisburn (both at 2.30pm).

Belfast Telegraph

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