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Ballyclare cool ahead of key battles


Mike McKeever
Mike McKeever

By Ronnie Ingram

Undefeated Ballyclare face two cup quarter-finals in successive weeks, the first of which is against Grosvenor in the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup this afternoon.

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And it promises to be a busy seven days as they are at home to Crosshaven in the All-Ireland Junior Cup next week.

Ballyclare have already defeated Grosvenor 18-5 in Kukri Division 1, but coach Mike McKeever is taking nothing for granted.

"That defeat will make Grosvenor even more determined as they are a very strong side with an excellent scrum-half that makes few errors and loves to play a wide game," he stated.

"Last season we finished second in three competitions, the Kukri and Conference Leagues and reached the Towns' Cup final.

"I feel we have a stronger and bigger squad now and hopefully that will lead to success."

The coach makes one change as Matthew McCullough has played all nine games so far and will be rested to allow Ross Patterson to play in the centre.

"We have six Ulster Juniors in the squad, which is comprised of mainly local players. On our recent cup trip to Castlebar, 17 of the 20-man squad were products of Ballyclare High," said McKeever.

Ballyclare have a number of experienced and talented players in full-back Gary Clotworthy, scrum-half Ryan McIlwaine, captain and No.8 David Clarke, back-row Ross Johnston and their attacking threat in the centre Joel McBride.

Instonians, meanwhile, will start as favourites in their clash but may have difficulty in getting over last week's 45-29 defeat at Clogher Valley after they led 19-0 after 16 minutes.

They face an Enniskillen side at Shaw's Bridge that has already beaten them 8-3.

Portadown, with no league wins to date, face an uphill task against Carrickfergus at Chambers Park, while Armagh II, who have already defeated Dromore 31-21, have to travel this time.

Draw: Portadown v Carrickfergus, Instonians v Enniskillen, Grosvenor v Ballyclare, Dromore v Armagh II

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