Banbridge RFC U17s coaches John Mullan, Bill Harbinson and Tim Honeyford were understandably delighted after their team’s stunning 47-10 victory over Portadown in the Ulster Plate final in Cookstown on Saturday.
“It was a great result. It was champagne rugby really,” said a gleeful John Mullan.
“It was just phenomenal. The boys were really hungry and wanted to show what they’ve got and they did that in abundance.
“During rhe first half, their support play, off-loads, lines of running and everything was there. It all came from the training ground straight onto the field of play. That’s what they wanted to do and they were really impressive, particularly in the first half.
“It was 40-5 to us at half-time and when you’re in that much of a lead, it’s hard to sustain that level of play. We took our foot off the gas in the second half but we got all the bench on.”
It was a superb end to the season for the U17s, who had a spate of injuries in the middle of their league campaign. Mullan reckons if all of their budding young stars had stayed fit, they could have completed a clean sweep of U17 trophies.
“They wouldn’t have been far away,” he said.
“They’re a great squad with an abundance of talent. There are guys coming from Ulster youth and new guys becoming involved with Ulster youth. We have a back line who, on their day, nobody can touch.
“There are a lot of guys who our first team coaches are well aware of and probably looking at already. Guys like the Cromies, James Waugh, Andrew Hutchinson and Andrew Rainey among others.”
On Saturday, there were seven different try scorers as the Banbridge boys ran riot through their shell-shocked opponents, who could do little to curb their attacking flow.
“Andrew Jackson shone in the forwards,” said Mullan.
“He controlled the whole forward unit and looked after them. He led from the front along with Adam Cromwell, who also played really well.
“Adam Rainey was super in the backs. Every time he got the ball, he made at least 30 or 40 yards and he popped up with a try as well. It was super.
“The boys were delighted. It’s great for them and it’s great for me too. It makes everything even more worthwhile. It’s been a long season because I’ve been playing too. I didn’t play for 10 years but then the fifths were short and it never leaves you.”
With the U15s and U17s winning their finals, it’s now over to the U19s on Saturday 10 May.