Donegal Town U13s travelled to the Mid Ulster Sports Arena, Cookstown on Saturday last to play Lurgan RFC in the Ulster Final of the Plate Competition.
Conditions were perfect for rugby with just a slight breeze coming from the Cookstown end of the field. Towy Neale Secretary of the Ulster Youth Committee was on hand to welcome the arriving teams and should be commended on the excellent venue and organisation on the day.
Donegal played against the breeze in the first half and Lurgan used this to their advantage with Donegal having to defend well against the Lurgan onslaught. This constant pressure was rewarded when the Lurgan winger Zac Davidson went over for a try in the corner after 15 minutes. The conversion was missed. Second Row Curtis Roper had to come off with an injury and was replaced by Charlie Behan. Lurgan kept up the pressure on the Donegal defence for the remainder of the half but were denied by a stubborn Donegal defence. Ciaran McGrory, Brian Fagan, Sean Campbell, Gerard Mc Intyre and Joshua Boyd worked extremely hard in defence. Half time score Lurgan 5 Donegal 0.
Donegal started the second half with a more concerted effort and were rewarded with a try scored by No. 8 Liam Doherty after five minutes. The wind ensured the conversion was missed. Donegal maintained this pressure for the next 15 minutes and were rewarded with another try scored by Prop James Smith and unfortunately this conversion rebounded off the crossbar. Donegal brought on Jack Scott for Joshua Boyd, David Byrne for Gerard Mc Intyre and Conor Mc Crossan for Iarla O’Murchu. Now with the score 10 points to 5 points it was game on. Donegal had a couple of chances to penetrate the Lurgan defence but some basic handling errors let them down. Lurgan on the other hand did not panic and kept the pressure on the Donegal defence and were rewarded in the last minute of play when their centre Ben Davidson evaded a number of tackles and got in for a try in the corner, which was not converted.
Final score Donegal 10 points to Lurgan’s 10 points. A draw was probably a fair enough result on the day. Both teams share the Ulster Carpets Plate 2013-14.
Donegal had good performances from props James Smith and Victor Joe Mitchell. Hooker Dennis Mc Menamin also worked hard. Edward Moss had a solid game at scrumhalf getting good quality ball out to the backs. Out-half Jamie Crawford also had a solid performance and set up some good attacks in the second half. Liam Doherty’s ball carrying throughout and work at the breakdown and exceptional driving through the rucks resulting in turn over ball. This earned him man of the match. Seamus Og Byrne and Michael Callaghan also worked hard throughout the game. The entire squad should be proud of their performance in this hard fought final.
The squad should be commended for the commitment they showed this year playing in 16 competitive games and training on 26 occasions. Their record of 14 wins and two losses is also to be commended. They also went unbeaten in the League. Coach Steve Cullen and Charlie Boyle should be commended for the hard work they put in all season with this great bunch of lads. Coach Paul O’Gara should also be commended for his good work fine-tuning the lads for the finals. Well done to all.