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Omagh skipper highlights morale as key weapon

By Ronnie Ingram

Omagh teams in Junior Rugby have only suffered one defeat in 25 League fixtures, with the seconds still unbeaten in Junior One after 14 games and the thirds in Junior Three topping the table.

On Saturday, the seconds were without a game but the thirds proved too strong for Ballymena III, winning 61-0.

It was an unexpected winning margin as there was a closer contest earlier in the season, but that result was declared void as the official referee failed to turn up.

"We thought we were in for a hard tussle but as it turned out they were much weaker than the last time," commented Omagh captain Alan Knox.

"We started brilliantly with two Ashley McIlwaine tries in the first five minutes and then we kept the ball for practically all of the next 20 minutes.

"Ballymena were seldom out of their own territory and we capitalised on their mistakes, so tries came thick and fast and we were nearly 40 points ahead by the interval."

Ballymena never found any shape defensively as their opponents ran in seven first half tries. The others came from Kyle Alexander, winger Jamie Brown, inside centre Keith Givens with a breakaway try, Peter Todd and Simon Monteith.

"Our pack put in a tremendous amount of work with the back row of Sheldon Monteith, Stephen Moffett and Mark Miller excelling with Ian Scott being the vital link at scrum-half," stated Knox.

"Full-back Sam Brown was strong in defence and attacked from deep while 19-year-olds Neil McLean and David Cummings proved their worth."

The trend continued in the second half as Ballymena became more dejected and Alexander added a second with out-half Andrew Allen running in two before the final effort, which was the try of the match.

Cummings caught an accurate line-out ball and linked with prop Alexander, who powered through a few tackles before popping the ball to Knox a metre out. Two of the conversions were made by McIlwaine and one from Allen.

"There is great team morale at Omagh. There is always a large turnout at training and we are fortunate to have an abundance of top class front rows.

"That is one of the reasons for all our teams' success. If a team has a well organised pack, I feel that is 90 percent of the battle and that's why I am fortunate to be captain," concluded Knox.

Omagh have 20 points from 11 games, two points ahead of Rainey III with two games in hand and the two are still to meet. Hinch V are in third with 16 points from 13 outings, while Queen's III have 16 points from their 10 matches.

Belfast Telegraph

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