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Battling Dromore refuse to give up on the Junior 3 title fight

By Ronnie Ingram

Dromore II remain in the Junior 3 title chase after a resounding 52-17 victory over Ballynahinch V - meaning the championship could well be decided when they meet leaders Ballymena III in a fortnight's time.

Presently, the teams are level on 26 points but the Eaton Park team have a game in hand, against Academy II on Thursday evening. Both have lost on three occasions and although Ballymena recorded an earlier 27-7 victory over their rivals, this time the venue will be at Barban Hill where Dromore are undefeated in the league all season.

Their only hiccup was a 17-17 draw with Queen's so they will give the formidable Ballymena a tough encounter.

In the Crawford Cup semi-final, they were eliminated 27-13 at home by Omagh II but the Tyrone team went on to trounce Ballynahinch III 52-14 in the final.

"This was a game we knew we had to win to keep the pressure on Ballymena so we started very strongly and were 21 points ahead after 10 minutes," stated Dromore manager Roger Irwin.

"Following a blind side move we had numbers and hooker Philip Ireland crashed over for the first for Matthew Russell to convert. Flanker Dylan Cobb and then captain Russell touched down but Hinch started to play a bit and following their try we made it 28-5 at the interval.

"Our fourth came after turnover ball and following a couple of runs up the middle we had numbers for Carl Stirling to dive over in the corner."

In the second period, Cobb crossed for his second before Dromore's strong running centre Michael Allen broke through a few tackles to race away under the posts for Russell to add his fifth conversion.

"Ireland sustained a head injury so we had to rejig the pack and that allowed Hinch to exert some pressure for a time but we finished off with two more tries," explained Irwin.

"Second row forward Graham McCandless, who had started in the centre before Ireland's injury, had put in a lot of work and he powered over for our seventh. The last one was a solo effort from full-back Stirling.

"He kicked the ball high, ran flat out to regather after a fortunate bounce and broke through a couple of tackles to go between the posts. It was an encouraging and confident effort and all the hard work has paid off."

The increase in the standard of play at Dromore had its foundations laid years ago.

Secretary Harry Maguire said: "The vast majority of the players on our firsts and seconds are under 25 and they have come through our Mini rugby, Dromore Primary and the local High School.

"They have been together as a squad for a long time and that leads to greater competition for 1st XV places."

Portadown's under-18 side have unfortunately been forced to withdraw from the Nutty Krust semi-finals due to an injury crisis.

Ballymena will replace them and will now meet Rainey in the last four tie on Tuesday, April 14 at Chambers Park.

The other semi-final will see Omagh take on Dromore at the same venue one day later.

Belfast Telegraph


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