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Undefeated Ballynahinch Thirds favourites to retain Crawford Cup

Ballynahinch III are aiming for a 'hat-trick' of Crawford Cup wins when they start favourites to defeat Omagh II in the final at Kingspan this afternoon.

The Ballymacarn team have already clinched the trophy five times this century and seven in all.

They have already clinched the Junior I title undefeated, with 17 successes, 678 points and conceded only 81. In this Cup competition they eliminated Dungannon III 58-10, Ballymena III 59-0 and Malone III 30-8.

Mark McCormick, their captain and winger, welcomes Robbie Irvine back to out-half after having he suffered a broken jaw two months ago but the services of their regular scrum-half will be missed.

"Unfortunately Chris Gibson, who has played in all the previous rounds, has been called up by the Seconds but that should not weaken us too much," said McCormick.

"Our team is a mixture of youth and experience with winger Ryan Smith just out of Down High last year.

"Ryan Murdoch, our other winger, is our top try scorer with 19 but we also have strength up front.

"John Gunson, who was a member of the Hinch team that won the All-Ireland Senior Cup in 2009, will be invaluable in what I feel will be a hard physical game."

The progressive Omagh club will be making their second visit to Kingspan as their firsts were defeated in the Junior Cup final by Instonians 13-0 in December.

Omagh's PRO Glen Patterson said: "I feel we have had a great year and are pleased to return to Kingspan for the second successive year after our appearance in the Harden Cup final.

"Our team is very young with second row James Catterson and back row Richard Elkin just left Omagh Academy while captain Lee Pollock is probably the eldest and he's only in his mid twenties.

"Neil Maclaine at out-half and his brother Stephen on the wing will have a big part to play on the outcome.

"Neil Mellon is an attacking full-back and has scored many points with his boot while scrum-half Adam Beattie is the ideal link man. Special mention must also go to our manager/coach James Kane who has brought all these lads together twice a week for training and his efforts have paid dividends."

To reach this stage Omagh defeated Larne II 40-11, Ballynahinch V 45-14, Ballyclare II 21-10 and Dromore II 27-13.

Belfast Telegraph


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