AN Omagh Accies rugby player has enhanced his growing reputation by making an impressive debut for the Ulster Juniors.
Scrum-half Stewart McCain recently played in all three inter-provincial games against Connacht, Munster and Leinster and marked his debut by being named man of the match.
McCain, who was joined in the Ulster squad by the Clogher pair of David Sharkey and Kyle Cobain and Enniskillen’s David Buchanan, said playing in the inter-pros had been a throughly enjoyable and rewarding experience.
So much so that he would certainly encourage his Coneywarren team-mates to give it serious consideration in the future.
“It is something I would be keen to do again for sure,” said the former Omagh Academy pupil.
“I would encourage the boys at Omagh to go for it because plenty of them are capable of playing at that level.
“I didn’t expect to get man of the match against Connacht and personally I thought I actually played better in the other two games. But then these things are all about opinions.”
Ulster got off to the perfect start by defeating Connacht 33-21at Enniskillen but then lost an arm wrestle with Munster 11-10 in Clonakilty. That effectively sealed the title for Munster and left the Red Hands with nothing but pride to play for against Leinster, who ran out 23-15 winners.
“The opening game aganst Connacht was a exciting match, the weather was good and both teams spread the ball at every opportunity,” continued the Omagh number nine.
“Munster was the complete opposite. It was a scrappy affair, their scrum and lineout got on top and, while we defended well, it was hard to gain a foothold. That said the outcome was in the balance until the final whistle.
“That was the key game. We just didn’t offer the same intensity against Leinster but at that point the players knew the championship was gone.”
Despite representing his club and Ulster with distinction, McCain isn’t expecting any preferential treatment when he returns to training at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.
A matter of weeks after the close of the season, club coach Phil Marshall already has his players on a strength and conditioning programme in preparation for the next campaign.
“I have only been down once but I’ll have to get stuck in now. I think the programme will improve the club as a whole and will be beneficial for all the players.
“We need to be looking to kick on next season and for me that’s at least a top-four finish and success in the cups.”
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