Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 76-19 at home to Skerries 1st XV. Legue won and promotion to 2A


On Saturday 6 April 2024 Instonians welcomed Skerries President Maurice Cregan to a packed pre match lunch at Shaws Bridge where the theme was Instonians Youth Rugby. Director of Youth Rugby Michael Fairbanks gave an excellent summary of the great work being done by the club’s school outreach program, sponsored by Harry Corry. Also in attendance were parents of Porthcawl youth rugby team from Wales who were unbeaten in 10 years and showed our boys the levels they need to aspire to. Our Welsh visitors treated us to an excellent song to finish the lunch. Being from Wales they could all sing.

Instonians knew that they were receiving the league trophy after the game from John Robinson from the IRFU but they wanted to finish the season in style in front of their own supporters. Skerries may have needed just 1 point depending on other results at the bottom of the table so this was not a dead rubber by any means.

14:30 Instonians 0 – Skerries 0

Storm Kathleen had managed to avoid Shawsbridge as Instonians kicked off towards the far car pack in bright sunshine with the breeze. Instonians were playing in their black strip to avoid a clash with Skerries.

14:34 Instonians 7 – Skerries 0

Both sides showed early intent to run the ball and were cancelling each other out until Instonian scrum half Rhys O’Donnell spotted a gap on the blind side from near the halfway line and drew the man to find full back Bradley McNamara who broke free down the touchline before sidestepping the covering defender to dive over to score giving Richie McMaster a relatively easy conversion.

14:41 Instonians 7 – Skerries 5

Skerries came straight back keeping ball in hand and severely testing the Instonian defence in their 22. Only a line out steal from David Whitten and then a great jackal from young Jack Parkinson(who was playing 7 today)stopped Skerries getting on the scoreboard.

The danger seemed to have cleared when Richie McMaster kicked the penalty to touch for a line out on the Instonian 22 on the clubhouse side. The throw went right over the top of the line out however, where Skerries took it on the burst and a quick recycle saw their right wing going over in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed but Skerries were up and running.

14:41 Instonians 14 – Skerries 5

You tend to run out of superlatives for young Instonian full back Bradley McNamara but when he fielded a kick in his own half, he took off on a quite simply sensational run slaloming through the entire Skerries defence before popping the ball to Bevan Prinsloo near the line under the posts. Bevan touched down and Ritchie added the extras.

14:48 Instonians 21 – Skerries 5

Instonians were clearly intent on playing a fast game and using their backs at every opportunity. Great hands from deep in their own half took play to the Skerries 22 and from a ruck scrum half Rhys O’Donnell broke before drawing his man to find Marty Voster who gleefully ran through to dive under the posts giving Ritchie McMaster another simple conversion.

14:55 Instonians 26 – Skerries 5

Instonians pack was dominating the set piece and a superb driving maul on the Skerries 22 was only stopped by the visitors infringing and when Instonians kicked for the line out 5 metres out there was an inevitability about Oli Clarke scoring from the back of the driving maul. The conversion was missed but the bonus point 4th try had been achieved well before half time.

15:06 Instonians 33 – Skerries 5

Instonians were rampant now, in control up front and unleashing the backline at will. Skerries were defending heroically but the pressure proved too much and Bevan Prinsloo is not the man the opposition want to see getting the ball close to the line and he powered over in the corner with Ritchie McMaster nailing a superb touchline conversion.

15:14 Instonians 33 – Skerries 12

The match was now over as a contest with the only question being whether Skerries could get 4 tries to earn the losing bonus point that they might need to stay up and right on half time they moved the ball well to go deep into the Instonian 22 where this time their support runners off the 9 managed to get over under the posts with an easy conversion to follow.


HALF TIME –Instonians 33 – Skerries 12

The half time team talks would have been very different with “more of the same” from Instonians and “forget the scoreline, we need 2 more tries” from Skerries.

15:19 Instonians 33 – Skerries 12

Skerries kicked off with the breeze and immediately went in search of their 3rd try with their officials still nervous on the touchline with half time scores elsewhere very tight.

15:27 Instonians 40 – Skerries 12

It was Instonians who got the next score however as from a ruck on the Skerries 22 scrum half Rhys O’Donnell showed great awareness to see space on the blindside and made a half break before executing a grubber kick to perfection for Bradley McNamara to gather and run in behind the posts to give an easy conversion.

15:31 Instonians 45 – Skerries 12

Instonians were now ringing the changes and Simon McMaster had only just replaced Bradley McNamara when he was on hand to take a scoring pass from a great move from deep started off by a super break from Bevan Prinsloo. The touchline conversion was missed by Ritchie McMaster.

15:38 Instonians 52 – Skerries 12

Rhys O’Donnell was the next to take a breather with Matthew Keane slotting in nicely to scrum-half and young Josh Eagleson coming on at 10 and Ritchie McMaster moving back to full back.

Matthew wasted no time in taking a quick tap on halfway and making good ground and Bevan Prinsloo then took off to score a great individual try up the right touchline. Young Josh nailed a good conversion and Instonians had gone past 50 and not for the 1st time this season.

15:41Instonians 57 – Skerries 12

David Whitten now made way for Rhys Davidson and Liam Kaprigiannis for Schalk Van Der Merwe. Despite having the whole bench on now, the pattern of play did not alter and after another flowing backline move from deep, Simon McMaster sidestepped the last defender to score in the left-hand corner. The breeze had got stronger, and Josh Eagleson missed the conversion from out on the left.

15:45Instonians 62 – Skerries 12

Instonians were simply enjoying themselves in the sunshine and entertaining the large home support in a packed balcony and along the touchlines. Another flowing move from deep took play right up to the try line in the right-hand corner and who was there at the breakdown but prop Alan Whitten to score in the corner and to everyone’s surprise he asked to take the conversion. Let’s just say it did not go over.

15:49Instonians 62 – Skerries 19

To their credit Skerries managed to block out the scoreboard and showed great character to put together a great passage of continuity with forwards and backs handling well to get over in the far left-hand corner with a great touchline conversion to boot. Skerries just needed 1 more try now to get that precious losing bonus point that they might need.

Then a surprise for the home crowd as Alan Whitten came off and the whole Instonian team started to clap him off. As the home crowd joined in the applause the penny started to drop that this might be Alan’s last home match and if it was then what a fine send off he had been given.

15:58Instonians 69 – Skerries 19

Skerries continued to keep ball in hand looking for the 4th try that might turn out crucial but it was Instonians who scored next following another good break from Bevan Prinsloo and a perfect draw of his man to release Simon McMaster to run in for his hattrick from 50 meters out.

16:02Instonians 76 – Skerries 19

There was still time for 1 more score from the home side and after a great break from Matthew Keane from the halfway line, the ball found its way to Simon McMaster for his 4th try of the day having only come on in the 2nd half.

FULL TIME – Instonians 76– Skerries 19

What a fantastic performance from Instonians to finish off a sensational league campaign. John Robinson from the IRFU presented the trophy to the 2 captains of Instonians. Robert Whitten had ruptured his Achilles before Xmas and Mark Keane had stepped in as his vice-captain. The clubhouse was bouncing after the match as Skerries found out that despite getting no points from the game, results elsewhere had gone their way and this young side stay up in 2B to go again next season.

As for Instonians, they are now in 2A next season but first of all they have a day at Ravenhill on Saturday 4 May with QUB lying in wait in the Senior Cup Final. Buses will be going from the club to Ravenhill and back with details to follow but for now just put the date in your diary.

As for MOM there are loads of contenders with Simon McMaster scoring 4 tries in half an hour, superb performances from the centre pairing of Ian Whitten and Bevan Prinsloo and excellent cameos from Bradley McNamara and Rhys O’Donnell who were instrumental in many of the early scores today, but for the dominance of the scrum in particular, there is only man it can go to and it is Alan Whitten who announced to the team pre match that he was retiring this season. What a stalwart Alan has been to Instonians, he went through some tough times and then got to play with his 3 brothers this season for the 1st time. He has 1 match left however, and no doubt he will be relishing his last hurrah at headquarters on Saturday 4 May 24. See you all there.