OMAGH ACCIES ………13
COLERAINE ……………. 6
OMAGH Accies are Ravenhill bound after producing a heroic defensive display to get past the dogged challenge of Coleraine in Saturday’s gruelling Junior Cup semi-final, at the Mellon Playing Fields.
Richard Boyd took his Bannsiders to the Tyrone venue seeking to spring another upset having ousted Ballyclare earlier in the competition, but despite a spirited performance Coleraine lacked the necessary cutting edge to halt Omagh.
Omagh’s victory was built on a super work ethic in which the defence paved the foundations for a merited success.
The loss of Johnny Sproule, James Catterson and Adam Stephenson through injury during the week was a massive setback to their preparations, but the players drafted in responded superbly to the challenge before them.
Mervyn Edgar was slotted into the second row with Dean Porter earning his first XV start of the season, while Alan Heaney and Yonga Telani teamed up in the centre.
Coleraine boasting an unbeaten run in all competition this term set out their stall from the outset as they put Omagh on the back foot. Alan Clarke, Niall Irwin, Bokkie Carstens and Chris Nash featured prominently in their challenge, but with Omagh prop Mark Smyth delivering a man of the match display Omagh’s defensive shape stood firm.
Playing at pace Omagh succeeded in closing down the options to Coleraine with the Accies first up tackling repelling several dangerous situations to the delight of Coach Phil Marshall.
“I am absolutely delighted with the character the team demonstrated today,” he stated before adding “Losing three key players was a blow but the guys proved there is strength and character in this team. It was a squad performance with all twenty players playing their part as I rotated throughout to give players a rest at key stages. Our scrum held up and I thought the winning of the game hinged on an excellent defensive showing.
“The lads brought in all did a great job and they have given me a few selection conundrums ahead of next week’s final.”
With Kyle Alexander, Jamie Sproule and Adam Longwell responding to the leadership of Smyth, Omagh gradually got to grips with Coleraine’s early pressure. Both teams had an off day from the tee as Alan Clarke and Neil Maclaine failed to land a number of kickable opportunities.
Omagh broke the deadlock with a quality Smyth try. The vice-captain timed his run to perfection and having latched onto Stewart McCain’s delivery the big prop muscled over the try line despite the attention of several would be tacklers. Maclaine missed the conversion, but as Omagh turned the screw Ryan Mitchell applied the finish to another quality attacking move.
Omagh went through several phases and worked possession back and forth across the field until Mitchell was sent through the gap to dot down for another unconverted score. Omagh were dominating possession and despite extending their lead through a Maclaine penalty they really should have been out of sight at the interval.
Twice Omagh butchered try scoring opportunities with clear overlaps on offer to the relief of the Coleraine defence as a stray pass in midfield allowed the visitor’s time to regroup and repel the surges.
The 13-0 half time advantage was scant reward for Omagh who were embracing themselves for a Coleraine backlash on the turnaround. Coleraine did throw everything into it in the second half in a contest that was well officiated by referee Chris Wilson.
Wilson’s sensible approach allowed both teams to concentrate on rugby with the Bannsiders reducing the deficit via two Clarke penalties. Clarke missed a number of other chances to trim the margin further and with the Omagh defence on top Coleraine never looked like grabbing a match saving try.
Omagh failed to trouble the scoreboard as poor execution scuppered some promising moves but they deservedly held on to set up a Ravenhill shootout against Ballynahinch Seconds on Tuesday week 13th December.
LIKE a commanding officer readying his troops for battle, Omagh Accies coach Phil Marshall is demanding that his charges...