OMAGH ACCIES II………………………………..14
OMAGH Accies seconds warmed up for their eagerly anticipated Towns’ Cup clash at home against near neighbours Strabane with a gutsy comeback victory over their Ballymena counterparts at Eaton Park on Saturday of last week.
The Accies found themselves 12-0 down inside the first quarter of an hour before they clawed themselves back into contention by the break with Glenn McKinley scoring a try converted by Stuart Ballantine, who missed a later penalty. The visitors eventually secured a thrilling late victory in the final stages of the second half when Eoin Murnaghan intercepted a loose Ballymena pass and raced in under the posts from halfway. Ballantine converted.
“They came out flying and a few early mistakes from us had us pinned back,“ observed Accies skipper Steven Maclaine.
”You‘re fearing the worst at that stage but we came back into it. When we had the ball we didn‘t look off the pace, it was just the case that we were losing the ball too easily and giving them easy possession.
“Their first score was soft with an easy gap around the edge of a ruck and the second came after they battered our line, spread it wide and got in at the corner.
“We have a habit of starting slow in general this season, we’re always waiting to react to something and once we knew what type of game we were involved in then we were able to get going.
”We dominated the second half and they never really got a sniff at our line, apart from a couple of our mistakes which led to penalties, but other than that we dominated possession and territory.
”It was frustrating in some senses because we couldn‘t convert but we know our chance was coming when they went down to 14 men after I was tipped on my head a wee bit by their 7, who got yellow carded.
”But they put us back down the park again and we thought maybe that opportunity was gone and then Eoin Murnaghan stepped up, plucked an intercept and went under the posts and that gave us the seven pointer for the lead.
“Then they didn‘t kick the restart 10 metres, which gave us a scrum and after keeping hold of the ball for a few phases we were able to get it off the park.”
While the victory over Ballymena will give the Accies second string confidence for the remainder of their Premiership campaign, it will also send them into this coming today’s Towns’ Cup opener with Strabane on a high because the prestigious competition is one Omagh hold in high regard.
“Hopefully we can get through,” Maclaine said. “We’ve started to get a bit of consistency in our team, but injuries and unavailability [in the firsts] can come back to bite us a bit more because we get told on a Thursday that we’re losing such and such and such and such and it does unsettle things.
“Then you’re dragging guys up last minute but because the ones haven’t had a game there shouldn’t be any unavailability or injuries that aren’t already known about, but it will have an impact because the likes of Matthew Clyde and Jonny Sproule were playing with us on Saturday.
“The Towns’ Cup is always something we try to target but it’s a difficult competition because there are some big sides in it, particularly those Qualifying One sides like Dromore, Ballyclare, even Clogher and Enniskillen, who are going well.
“We’d like to see ourselves pushing on a couple of rounds, but if you come up against those teams it’s going to be very difficult.”
There will be a pre-match reception for sponsors and guests at 1:30pm with the kick-off at 2:30pm.
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD