Team: Sat 27th April 2019 v Omagh
1. Jayden Friel
2. Eoin Parkinson
3. Dan Geoghegan
4. Conor Mangan
5. Eoin Harris
6. Mathew Duffy
7. Jynaid Reyes
8. Jack Speer - Captain
9. Ben Hopkins
10. Kaymin Shortt
11. Tiernan McFadden
12. Leon Duffy
13. Orrin Burgess
14. Ewan Douglas
15. David Henry
Subs: Conor Smith, Brian McGettigan, Daithi Doherty, Odhrán Finn, Dylan Coyle, Cuan Brophy & Jack Gibbons.
After a long and gruelling season the Letterkenny Under 16s team arrived in Cookstown having been unbeaten in the league and only suffering 2 losses all season to Armagh in both cups, they were all set for the big day and were oozing with confidence coming of the bus. After a quick change in the changing rooms they took to the practice field on what was a very windy and damp morning, with storm Hannah still bellowing in the distance, the stage was set and the lads all looked ready.
At 12pm they took to the astro pitch in the Mid Ulster Arena and having won the toss opted to play into the wind for the first half.
Omagh get the match underway kicking from left to right and Letterkenny gather and run at the opposition and gain some good ground through some nice breaks from forwards and backs alike, then they are awarded a penalty near the 22 and they opt for a forward move and the ball is filter through to a charging Mathew Duffy who breaks the defensive line and with a great burst of pace crashes over 10 meters to the right of the uprights. Orrin slots the conversion and the score is [7 – 0] after 7 mins of play.
Letterkenny continue to show their dominance in the opening period of the game and continue to bully their way up the field. But Omagh are not going to lie down and win some possession of their own until they spill the ball forward on the Letterkenny 10 meter line as the wind plays havoc with any would be long passing game. The Letterkenny pack does well in the scrum as the will continue to do for much of the match and Ben feeds Kaymin who in turn whips it out to Orrin and to the Gasps and groans of the large crowd on the day he opts to put boot to ball with a huge Gary Owen straight into the gale, the ball soars high and comes straight back at the attacking backline of Letterkenny and Orrin leaps high and with both hands manages to grab hold of the ball and sets off on one of his powerful runs and he is not to be stopped on this occasion and scores a great try under the posts. He slots the conversion and the score after 10 mins is now [14-0].
Omagh however use the wind to their advantage from the restart and find themselves deep in Letterkenny’s 22 where they manage to keep Letterkenny pinned for the next 5 mins or so and are awarded a scrum. From the scrum they run the ball out wide and score in the right corner. Conversion is missed with the difficult wind and score after 16 mins [14-5].
Omagh continue to keep the pressure on Letterkenny with some good interchange rugby but the Letterkenny defence on the day is good with some great tackles from forwards and backs alike. With 10 mins to go one of the Omagh players takes a knock and is forced off the field. Letterkenny win the possession again and feed the ball out wide to Tiernan McFadden and he makes 10 meters up the field before being brought to the ground and into touch. But Letterkenny jump the highest in the lineout with Jynaid soaring above the Omagh jumpers, Letterkenny try and get the ball out the line again but with the tough handling conditions on the day the ball is knocked on for a scrum to Omagh.
Omagh win their scrum and feed the back line who gain some good ground and now Omagh seem to have the wind in their sails and with several good phases of play find themselves across the white wash again to the left of the posts this time. The conversion is good and that concludes the first half as the ref blows his whistle [14-12].
Orrin gets the second half under way and Jack Speer is first up and steals the ball from an Omagh player but Omagh keep up the pressure and force Letterkenny back towards the halfway line but then they give away a penalty which Orrin boots into the right corner 5 meters out.
Letterkenny win the lineout with a cheeky short lineout to Dan Geoghegan at the front of the line and he puts his head down and goes for the line but is stopped short but recycles the ball well and Jack Speer picks from the back of the ruck and crashes over in the corner. Orrin steps up and faces down storm Hanna and with a huge boot aimed at the far left corner manages to use the power of Hannah to direct his superb kick on target and through the uprights. [21-12] after 1 min.
From the restart Letterkenny gather the ball and feed it to Kaymin and he puts a lovely chip kick over the top and the ball bounces nicely down the line and into touch about 10 meters out. Jynaid soars high and spoils again putting the ball back on the Letterkenny side where the pack setup the ruck and Dan picks from the back and adds another 5 meters to his tally for the day.
The coaches make a change after 7 mins with Conor Mangan making way for Conor Smith and Leon Duffy making way for Brian McGettigan. Letterkenny keep on the pressure and are awarded a penalty 5 meters out and they again opt for a forward move, with players peeling left and right the ball is fed to Jack Speer on the charge and he crashes over for his second of the day halfway between the right post and right corner. The wind plays its part and the ball drifts right and wide and the score after 10 mins is now [26-12].
This time a poor restart from Omagh sees the ball drop short of the 10 meter and Orrin swoops down and gathers and feeds it to Kaymin who goes on one of his dancing runs leaving would be tacklers on the deck behind him, two of whom collided to the amusement of the crowd in an effort to halt Kaymin’s surging run, he looked sure to get to the corner but the last Omagh defender takes him out with a high tackle 5 meters short and Letterkenny are awarded another penalty. Again Letterkenny employ the rehearsed forward move and the ball again is in the hands of Jack Speer who is looking for his hat trick but is stopped short this time.
Letterkenny keep on the pressure and have another lineout 5 meters out down in the right corner but again the Omagh defence does well and sops them from scoring.
Further substitutions are made : Eoin Harris, Mathew Duffy to be replaced by Odhrán Finn and Daithi Doherty.
Letterkenny gather another attempt to clear with the boot and this time we see David Henry making some more yards to add to his great tally on the day, he then chips over the top and it is gathered by Omagh but brought over their own line for a 5 meter scrum.
Again Omagh are not for lying down and refuse to let Letterkenny in and again clear their lines but the ref has spotted an infringement and awards Letterkenny the penalty just inside the 22 and yes they go for the special move again and Conor Smith this time the target but he too is brought down short of the line. They do however win a scrum 5 meters out and Ben feeds the scrum and picks from the back and with a clever snipping run crashes over under the posts for the final try on the day, the conversion again is slotted and the score with 5 mins left is [33-12].
Letterkenny continue to keep Omagh pinned deep inside their own half for the remaining mins and the ref blows the final whistle to large cheers from the players, coaches and supporters that had travelled all the way from Donegal.
A fitting finale to a superb season from a large group of players in the under 16s squad, as many other players contributed throughout the year and deserve full credit also for their hard work.
A big thanks to Boyd, Andrew, Michael, Billy and Shane for all their hard work throughout the year and also to all the parents and helpers throughout the season that have done so much work in the back ground to assist this fine team in bringing home a piece of silverware from Ulster.
Also a huge thanks to the sponsors of our new kit, main sponsor Fabri Clad Engineering and Valu Centre Letterkenny, you helped make the lads look the part and we greatly appreciate your support.
Just a final word from me, I hope you have all enjoyed the write ups throughout the season and I hope I have manage to capture at least some of the highlights in each game, apologies if some have been missed.