Old Boys face daunting sequence of matches

Wing forward Heaney attacks the Old Wesley defence. PICTURE : Charles Henderson.
Wing forward Heaney attacks the Old Wesley defence. PICTURE : Charles Henderson.

After a welcome break from what has been a difficult start to the season, Rainey Old Boys were preparing for another testing block of fixtures, beginning with an Ulster League game at Ards on Saturday.

But, unless an alternative opponent can be found at short notice, they will again be inactive, because Ards have to play Bruff in a re-arranged fixture instead.

A bereavement in the Limerick club’s camp caused the postponement of their AIL game two weeks ago.

While Rainey have had to use thirty-five players already in six matches, Ards have, by all accounts, had an even more torrid time with injuries. After conceding sixty points at Sligo, they failed to field at Derry in the Ulster League and called off their game at Ballynahinch last week at short notice. The Ards-Rainey game will now be played after Christmas.

On October 25, Rainey meet Division 1B side Malone in the quarter-final of the Senior Cup at Gibson Park where they have done well in the past.

The Cregagh Red Sox recruited well over the summer and at full strength would be a formidable hurdle for a Rainey side hoping to come through without any more injuries.

They expect to have a larger pool to select from for the next three daunting AIL matches and they will be badly needed.

Old Wesley have already signalled their intent, rattling up an impressive tally of tries in their three wins to head the table by four points.

They won the corresponding fixture at Donnybrook last season and on both their previous appearances at Hatrick Park.

Rainey then travel to County Kildare on consecutive Saturdays to face third placed Naas and second placed NUIM Barnhall.

The Old Boys have a good home record against Naas, but have never won at Forenaughts where a late rally earned them a welcome draw on their last visit. Parsonstown is another tough place to go to and Barnhall are always a very capable outfit.

A potentially exciting young Rainey 2nd XV has had a terrible time with injuries so far this season and the jinx struck once again at Eaton Park on Saturday when they finished up with twelve men against a strong Ballymena 2 which took full advantage to pull clear in the final quarter to win 39-8.

Rainey were on the receiving end for much of the first half,but defended with commendable discipline. Great tackling and solid work in the set pieces kept a fluent home side at bay and their efforts were rewarded when hooker Shaw scored out wide to leave them 5-0 up at the break.

The Braidmen nudged ahead with a try converted by experienced out-half Tim Small,but Rainey regained the lead with a Dillon penalty.

When No.8 Dawson, centre Barr and wing Mc Clelland had to retire with injuries, Ballymena exploited the space out wide to run riot in the latter stages and win by a flattering margin.