Header2014 IRFC

1st XV Win 26-15 at Omagh 1st XV


Photos (Thanks to Jonnie Mussen)



On Saturday 17 September 2022 travelled to the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields to play Omagh Accies at a very difficult time for the Omagh club following the tragic recent death of 21 year old Phillip Rainey who was so highly thought of by the whole club as was conveyed by a heartfelt and emotional speech by Omagh’s President Kevin Murnaghan during the excellent pre match lunch. Instonians President Owen Lambert had attended the funeral just the weekend before to offer his own and the club’s condolences. Before kick off the players of Omagh 1st and 2nd XV, City of Armagh 2nd XV and Instonians 1st XV stood together in a minutes silence for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and young Phillip Rainey and also Terry McDonagh a club stalwart from City of Armagh who passed away recently too.

14:30 – With the sun shining and very little wind the conditions were perfect for running rugby as Omagh kicked off. Instonians had 3 players making their 1st starts of the season in wing Sam Fryars, openside Max Preston and second row/back row James Welling.

14:34 – Omagh 3 – Instonians 0

Both sides showed early intent to move the ball wide and when Instonians came in from the side at a ruck just inside their own 10 metre line a fine kick by Omagh out half Ballantine opened the scoring.

This young Omagh side were clearly intent on using the conditions to let the ball do the work and showed great continuity between forwards and backs as they attacked out wide back and across the pitch. One such attack down the blind side from their own 22 put the left wing into open space and only good cover defence from Instonians prevented an opening try. Instonians tackling was good however with a Harry Gallagher tackle early on setting the tone.

Instonians then attacked and moved the ball well through the phases from side to side testing the Omagh defence which held firm. With both sides still intent on running the ball Omagh’s handling was better at this stage with Instonians frustrated at key moments by knock-ons or losing the ball forward in the tackle. This did however result in scrums with Instonians immediately putting the young Omagh pack under real pressure regardless of whose put in it was.

14:42 – Omagh 3 – Instonians 5

When Omagh strayed offside on half way a good kick to touch from Matthew Keane gave Instonians a line out on the Omagh 22 on the left. From the line out Instonians showed good composure to use runners as they patiently moved the ball infield and then Matthew Keane dummied the pass at the ruck and sailed through under the posts to score. What should have been a simple conversion was missed as the ball fell off the tee just as it was being struck by Jonathan Milliken.

Instonians set piece was functioning well and a pattern was emerging of a dominant Instonian scrum followed by a kick to touch and then from secure line out ball the ball was moved wide. Omagh defended well with Instonians still knocking the ball on or losing the ball on occasions.

14:47 – Omagh 8 – Instonians 5

Omagh’s game plan was to keep the ball alive and up the tempo with strong runners gaining ground and then quick release and very good support lines which stretched the Instonian cover.

From one such period of continuity in attack, and despite fine tackles by Sam Fryars and Daniel Keane , Omagh moved the ball along the line for the right wing to score in the corner and deservedly took the lead.

14:51 – Omagh 15 – Instonians 5

Instonians looked to respond with out half Ruari O’Farrell playing with his head up and looking to release his outside backs but the knock-ons continued to hamper Instonians progress.

The best tries are often the simplest and that was the case when Omagh had a scrum on the Instonian 10 metre line and looked for quick ball away. A simple miss pass to the outside centre into space with the inside centre running a great support line to take the pass and score close to the posts with out a hand being laid on him. The simple conversion gave Omagh a 10 point lead and set a challenge for this Instonian side.

14:51 – Omagh 15 – Instonians 12

Again Instonians looked to their strong set piece. Dominant scrum , scrum penalties, good line out ball and then the trademark driving maul off that to set up attacking positions. Frustration was evident with the final pass not going to hand.

To their credit though Instonians kept their composure and kept attacking and from a scrum penalty and kick to the corner on the Omagh 22 hooker Neil Saulters peeled round the back of the line out and fed no 8 Ally Burke who made great ground deep into the Omagh 22 and this time the transfer between forwards and backs was slick as the ball was passed perfectly along the line to Sam Fryars to score in the right hand corner to the obvious delight of captain Eoghan Murphy. An excellent touchline conversion from Jonathan Milliken made it a 3 point game.

Instonians made their first changes with James Welling on for Rhys Davidson and Shalk Van Der Merwe on for Anton Lupari.

Omagh went straight back on the attack up to the Instonians 22 but Harry Gallagher came up with the jackal and a relieving penalty. The line out was won initially but then Omagh turned it over. Another Instonian scrum penalty shortly afterwards and an excellent kick to touch on the Omagh 22 set up a great opportunity to take the lead before half time.

15:07 - James Welling caught the line out ball and a good driving maul took the ball deep into the Omagh 22. The maul was still moving forward but it had slowed down so Matthew Keane passed inside to Frazer Laughlin but the ball was lost in the tackle now and the chance was gone.

Instonians were now knocking on the door though and Ruari was starting to find space for his outside backs with a fine run from Bevan only stopped by good Omagh defence in their 22.

HALF TIME – Omagh 15 - Instonians 12

Omagh regrouped at half time and went straight on the attack again with their 9 taking a quick tap penalty and only a stray pass preventing a good scoring opportunity.

15:20 – Omagh 15 - Instonians 19

Another scrum penalty to Instonians and quick ball off the line out and this time Ruari kicked cleverly into open space downfield. Omagh cleared to touch on their own 22 . A clean line out catch from Eoghan and good driving maul was brought down by Omagh and when Matthew Keane went to take a quick tap he was prevented from doing so and the Omagh 7 went to the bin. Instonians went for the scrum and drove Omagh over the try line for Matthew to dot the ball down and put Instonians ahead. Jonathan Milliken converted from about 15 metres to the right of the posts

This young Omagh side showed great character to go straight back on the attack again keeping the ball alive and testing the Instonian defence. Instonians defence was solid however with Max Preston , Bevan Prinsloo and Sam Fryars all to the fore.

Ruari was now constantly probing for openings for Instonians and the back line was more fluent and consistent in their handling with Bevan in particular testing the Omagh defence which held firm.

Captain Eoghan Murphy then took a breather to allow Ryan Hanson some game time. Alan Whitten completed a good shift and Anton came back on.

15:33 – Omagh 15 - Instonians 26

From a scrum in the Omagh 22 their no 8 picked off the base but was tackled by Matthew Keane and James Welling came in quickly to get the jackal and earn the penalty. Kick to the corner, clean catch and driving maul to the line at which point Matthew Keane saw the opportunity to break and complete his hat trick. Jonathan Milliken added the extras.

With 20 minutes still to go Instonians brought on Jordan Foster and Connor Gallagher for Frazer Laughlin and Neil Saulters meaning all 20 players got game time. Rhys Davidson came back on for James Welling too.

To their credit this young Omagh side did not take a backward step and it was end to end action for the good crowd to witness. Instonians had upped the tempo and both sides showed their fitness as there was no let up in the attacking rugby on display from both sides. Instonians were now showing the continuity in attack that Omagh had displayed in the first half.

15:48 – Instonians ran the ball from their own 22 and when it reached Bevan he raced past 3 men on his way to the Omagh 22 but the final pass to right wing Sam Fryars went forward to prevent what would have been a great score.

Sam Fryars then had a strong run himself and close to full time Ruari nearly got through for a try his game would have deserved but on each occasion the Omagh defence held firm.

FULL TIME -   Omagh 15 - Instonians 26

This was a useful encounter for both clubs and both will have aspects of their game to work on as we move closer to the start of the AIL on Saturday 1 October. On the evidence of today both games between these sides in the AIL will be worth watching.

Instonians next challenge is another testing one at AIL 2B side Dungannon next Saturday 24 September. Great to be playing our good friends at Stevenson Park again and reigniting that old rivalry.

There were fine debuts today for Max Preston , Sam Fryars and James Welling which only adds to the competition for places and helps drive performance levels in the group.

As for MOM today there were a few contenders with Bevan in particular a strong candidate but it is hard to look past someone who scores a hat trick of tries so it goes to Matthew Keane.

Thanks to Omagh for the game and their wonderful hospitality both before and after the game in what is a very difficult time for the club. We also thank the ref for helping to let the game flow. To all Instonians we hope to see many of you next Saturday in Dungannon in the last match before the AIL begins.