Both Armagh under 16s and 14s got through to the finals of the cup competition due to be played at Kingspan Stadium on the 2nd May 2015.
The under 16s had probably their hardest game of the season against a determined Rainey side but sheer determination and courage in their defence enabled them to scrape thriugh by the narrowest of margins 14-10.
Played in ideal conditions at the Royal School pitch Armagh struggled to make any real impact in the first half and a couple of breakaway darts from the three quarters was all the had to show for their possession.
A couple of chances fell to Pearce Lennon from cross field kicks from Cormac Fox but he couldn’t quite hold on to the ball and the opportunity was lost. However 10 minutes from half-time Niall McKee forced his way over the try line for Cormac to convert.
Half-time Armagh 7 Rainey 0.
The second half was all Rianey and only very determined defence by all 15 Armagh players stopped Rainey from grasping the initiative. Armagh couldn’t hold out for ever and a fine movement enabled them to squeeze over for a well deserved try in the corner.
Their impressive out-half slotted over a magnificent conversion to level the scores. Armagh couldn’t get a foothold in the Rainey half mainly because they gave away so many penalties.
In fact I do not recall Armagh getting a penalty the whole of the second half while Rainey had 8 or 9 plus 3 frees.
It therefore needed a bit of inspirational play from Barry Finn who made a terrific break from 50 yards and brushed aside 4 would be tacklers to score under the posts.
Cormac again slotted over the conversion to give Armagh some breathing space but Rainey were not finished yet and 10 minutes from time they burrowed over for another try.
The conversion was missed so Armagh had a slight advantage. Rainey threw everything at them and only heroic defence and tackling enabled Armagh to win and go to Ravenhill.
This was a magnificent performance from the Armagh team dtermined to not lose their unbeaten record and they now lok forward to the final against their old rivals Virginia.
The under 14s didn’t want to be undone either and they had a terrific win against a big Coleraine side also at the Royal.
Things didn’t look good for Niall Chapman’s side when the went down 7-0 early on when a penalty attempt bounced of a post and Coleraine reacted quicker to touch down for a converted score.
Armagh bounced back with typical Aaron Whyte run to dive over in the corner.
Ryan Carmichael for such a young lad put over a great conversion to equal the scores. Coleraine reacted strongly and forced Armagh to defend for the next period of time before Sam Murray scored from one of his storming runs to leave Armagh leading for the first time in the match.
Things were tight in the second half and Armagh had to rely on their reserves to keep Coleraine out.
There was some brilliant defence and the odd counter atacking from the locals. It wasn.’t until Cormac Houlahan raced away for an individual try almost the length of the pitch that Armagh could relax a bit and start to look forward to also appearing at Kingspan on May 2 nd
All in all a great day for all associated with youth rugby in Armagh ,players coaches mentors and parents.
We all will look forward to May 2nd and do our best to bring further honour to Armagh in what has been a remarkable season for the club.