Photo by Ken Redpath
Armagh 2nd XV Celebrate Winning the Crawford Cup
Crawford Cup Final
On Easter Tuesday Armagh 2s played Coleraine 2s in the final of the Crawford Cup at Ravenhill. After claiming the Junior 1 league championship the previous week Armagh hoped to make it an historic league and cup double for the club.
Facing a big strong Coleraine side Armagh kicked off into the breeze and started strongly with their forwards claiming early possession. Captain Simon Cuttle made a half break and fed centre Johnny Allen who spun a long pass out to winger Alex Luneiu who went over in the corner for a try on 3 minutes. Fullback Matthew Steenson missed the tricky conversion so the score stayed 05-0.
A few minutes later Armagh were awarded a penalty after Coleraine infringed at a ruck which was successfully converted by Steenson to bring the score to 08-0 after 7 minutes. After a period of play in the middle of the park Coleraine fought back to 08-03 after a penalty on 29 minutes.
Shortly after the Armagh backs moved quick 2nd phase ball from the forwards with Michael Hooks making a scintillating line break on the half way line only being stopped 5 metres out from the corner flag by a last ditch Coleraine tackle. From the resulting Coleraine lineout, no.8 Benny Lamb snapped up possession to go over in the corner. Steenson converted from the touch line to bring the half time score to 15-03. This was a hammer blow for Coleraine on the stroke of half time to give away another score.
Armagh restarted with the breeze behind them with brothers Freddie and Simon Cuttle combining well with Hooks and the experienced Johnny Allen in the centre. Robbie Faloon who looked sharp throughout the game brought play into the Coleraine 22 where ball was recycled by the forwards with Davy Martin and Gareth McNeice leading from the front. With play almost on the Coleraine line prop Richard Morton crashed over for another try near the corner. Steenson who by now was oozing confidence slotted over another excellent conversion.
The score now stood at 22-03 in Armagh’s favour on 49 minutes. At this stage Peter Lamb came on for Andrew Smyth at hooker, Andrew Knipe came on for Freddie Cuttle at scrumhalf and Philip Fletcher came on for Simon Carlisle to introduce fresh legs to the Armagh effort. After a storming performance at no.8 Benny Lamb came off after a serious ankle injury to be replaced by Richard Shilliday.
On 63 minutes after an Armagh lineout deep in the Coleraine half the Armagh backs moved the ball wide for Robbie Faloon to get on the end of a neat grubber kick from Luneau to score in the corner. Steenson again converted from the touch line to bring the score up to 29-3. Sam Sheppard came on for Luneau on the wing and got involved straight away with a good break taking play into the Coleraine half.
Armagh even at this late stage were intent running the ball at every opportunity and after being turned over by Coleraine on the 10 metre line, the Coleraine winger broke away to score a consolation try on the final whistle. After the conversion the referee blew for fulltime with the Armagh celebrations starting immediately.
This was a magnificent performance by the seconds with a combination of strength and mobility in the forwards and experience and agility in the backs. Captain Simon Cuttle tackled like a Trojan and was able to keep his backline moving during all day. Matthew Steenson, Willie Martin, Willie Hill and Gareth McNeice along with each and every member of the 20 man squad played their part throughout this final and the result was just reward for some fantastic performances during the season.
When the Firsts were negotiating their way through a difficult fixture programme, many players stepped up and give their all for the team and club. With commitment like this from a special squad of players the future of the club is in good hands. Next up for the seconds is an away game with Banbridge 3s this Saturday in the Harden cup.
Simon Carlisle, Andrew Smyth, Richard Morton, Willie Hill, Willie Martin, Davy martin, Benny Lamb, Gareth McNeice, Freddie Cuttle, Simon Cuttle, Robbie Faloon, Michael Hooks, Johnny Allen, Alexis Luneau, Matthew Steenson, Andrew Knipe, Richard Shilliday, Sam Sheppard Philip Fletcher, Pete Lamb.