The Maxol-sponsored Carrick 1st XV moved into the third round of the Millar McCall Wylie Junior cup with a comprehensive 36 points to 3 victory over a spirited but limited Omagh II side at Tom Simms Memorial Park on Saturday 5th October.
After an error strewn first half ,with defences very much on top, Carrick pulled away in the second half, two tries in the first ten minutes after the break effectively ending any chance for an Omagh side which offered little more than brave defence and rarely threatened the home side’s line. If it had not been for the high penalty count against them, most for unforced offences, the winning margin for Carrick could have been even greater. The Carrick scrum was on top throughout and they frequently stole line-out ball from their opponents (although they did lose a couple of their own), Omagh’s tendency to throw long being disrupted on a number of occasions by the home side’s locks Curtis Rea and Chris Rodgers.
In the second half, Carrick began to boss the break-down and their backs were given the opportunity to find holes in the Omagh defence.
Wings Brian Alexander and Ciaran Wilson both had fine games, the latter picking up two tries, while half-backs Simon White and Shane Kelly controlled the game well, particularly in the second half, and Kelly produced a number of line breaks which opened up the Omagh defence. Up front Paul Greenaway and Ryan McGonigle put in excellent performances, carrying strongly and knocking Omagh ball-carriers back on a number of occasions while loose-head Joel Bell, hooker Alan Whitley and open-side Jack Millar also contributed significantly to the defensive effort.
The first half was one in which Carrick dominated possession and territory but found it hard to break down a stubborn Omagh defence, while the visitors had limited attacking opportunities and came up against an equally determined Carrick defence when they did have the ball. The half was most notable for the string of penalties conceded by Carrick, mostly when in possession and in their opponents’ territory. All of the scoring took place in the first ten minutes, Omagh taking the lead after five minutes with a penalty for a break-down offence after Carrick had stolen the ball at an Omagh line-out just outside the home side’s 22. Carrick hit back a few minutes later, running back an Omagh clearance kick and going through a couple of phases before Simon White put a well placed chip behind the visitors’ defensive line and Ciaran Wilson won the race to the touch-down. The try was not converted but Carrick now led by 5 points to 3. The rest of the half was mainly taken up with Carrick trying to mount attacks but being frustrated by strong Omagh defence and their own profligacy in conceding penalties and failing to control the ball at vital moments. The visitors had a chance to take the lead on the stroke of half-time with longish range penalty effort but it drifted just wide and Carrick went into the break with their 5-3 lead intact.
Carrick did not have to wait for long in the second half to extend their lead. After a good break out from his own 22 by Brian Alexander, Carrick turned the ball over in the Omagh half but when the visitors tried a miss pass on their own 22 it was intercepted by centre Mattie Hadden who raced in to score near the posts. Shane Kelly added the conversion points to give Carrick a 12 points to 3 lead. Two minutes later this became 19-3 when a break by Shane Kelly put Ryan McGonigle in the clear and the flanker ran in from the 22 to score, Kelly adding the conversion points. From this point on, Carrick were in control of the game and even when Omagh had possession they were often being driven back by the Carrick rush defence. With sixty minutes gone, the home side extended their lead when, following a line-out just outside the Omagh 22, there were strong carries by Paul Greenaway and Chris Rodgers and quickly re-cycled ball allowed Ciaran Wilson to race in for his second try in the corner. The conversion attempt came back off the post but Carrick now led by 24 points to 3 and it had now just become a damage limitation exercise for the visitors and for Carrick a question of how much they could add to their score. With seventy minutes gone, a scrum on the Omagh 22 set up an opportunity and another break by Shane Kelly put Johnny Sheriff in space and the Carrick Captain brushed off a couple of Omagh defenders in running in to score from thirty metres out. The try was not converted but Carrick now led by 29 points to 3. Their final score did not come until injury time when a scrum penalty set up an attacking line-out and Alan Whitley got the touch down from the ensuing catch and drive. Shane Kelly added the extras and the game finished with Carrick comprehensive winners by 36 points to 3.
After a first half marked by the high error count, including too many penalties, Carrick produced a very solid second half performance to take complete control of the game. However, the will face sterner challenges than those offered by an opposition with limited attacking potential and the first comes next week when they travel to Dromore to face the current League leaders.
The Carrick team against Omagh II was:-
D. Moore; C. Wilson, J. Sheriff (Capt), M. Hadden, B. Alexander; S. Kelly, S. White; J. Bell (G. McKeown), A. Whitley, P.Greenaway, C. Rodgers, C. Rea, R. McGonigle, J. Millar, N. Greenwood (R. Crymble).