Depleted Accies bow out of Towns’ Cup

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Depleted Accies bow out of Towns’ Cup thumbnailOmagh Accies’ Neil MacLaine tries a box kick in their Towns’ Cup defeat to Armagh seconds at the Palace Grounds on Saturday.

ARMAGH seconds ran in 11 unanswered points in the latter part of the second half against an injury depleted Omagh Accies in the Towns' Cup, emerging victorious by 24 points to 13 at Palace Grounds on Saturday.

Armagh II XV ...24
Omagh Accies I XV...13

Injuries to both second rows, John and Jamie Sproule, flanker Adam Longwell and a yellow card for skipper, Kyle Alexander, saw a finely poised match with the Accies gaining the upper hand, swing dramatically to the home side.

With this early exit Omagh can now focus on the league campaign and in particular a very tough run of fixtures beginning with the local derby on Saturday followed up by the visit of Instonians and then Ballyclare on the first Saturday in March.

“We prepared, picked a team and set up to win but it wasn't to be," admitted Omagh coach, Phil Marshall, after the game. "We had a few nursing injuries, a couple unavailable but also guys knocking on the door for a first team place, so it was important to give them a run at this level. You can't legislate for injuries like today. I had our tight head prop in the second row and our scrum half going in to flanker, but that's rugby."

Armagh started quickest on Saturday and took the lead with a converted try under the posts as the Tyrone men, took their time to settle, though they hit back with a penalty from Neil Mellon.

The Palace Ground side were more inventful in the opening period and deservedly extended their lead with a penalty of their own before Omagh replied on the stroke of half time when Mellon finished off a backline move by squeezing in at the corner. The Accies had a great chance to score prior to this but squandered a great opportunity. Mellon duly stepped up to add a touchline conversion to leave the score tied at 10 at the break. Half time 10-10.



Both sides swapped penalties as the Tyrone side started to find some momentum, looked stronger and were asking questions of the home defence, before injuries to the Accies engine room took over and Longwell took a knock but returned later. This changed a match in which Omagh were staring to hurt their opponents and were looking the more likely to win. Armagh added a try and two penalties as a much shuffled pack tried to keep them at bay but could not stem the tide with the home side going on to win by 24 points to 13.

While obviously disappointed with this loss and the opportunity for another run out at headquarters, the remaining games facing the Accies camp become clear with back-to-back titanic clashes against Clogher and Instonians followed up by a free Saturday before Ballyclare come to town. Ards win over Randalstown means they will have to make a mid-week trip to Tyrone at some stage.

“We know what we have to do but are looking no further forward than the visit of Clogher next week. They have had a good run of form recently and are pushing Portadown for fourth place and a place in the All-Ireland league campaign," said Marshall.

Omagh put 50 points on Clogher at the Cran earlier on in the season to retain 'John Rainey's Cap' on a wide pitch perfect for running rugby and put the home team to the sword, but with a team gaining in confidence with the return of David Sharkey, no-one in Omagh will be under any doubts about the difficulty of the fixture.

“They will be hurting from the earlier match and have embarked on a good run of form," admitted Marshall. "We are really suffering with injuries at the minute and will have to see who responds to treatment during the week. It may be a last minute call for some players."

With injuries to both second rows and five centres either unavailable or injured, Omagh have an injury crisis, but on a positive front they hope to welcome back the quartet of James Catterson, Mervyn Edgar, Richard Hemphill and Alistair Beckett. Kick-off on Saturday is 2.30pm.

Omagh Accies team: Neil Mellon, Neil Brown, Stephen MacLaine, Scott Barr, Ryan Mitchell, Neil MacLaine, Stewart McCain, Kyle Alexander (c), Mark Brown, David Thompson, John Sproule, Jamie Sproule, Richard Harpur, Adam Longwell, Dean Porter

Subs: Ethan McKeown, Adam Beattie.


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