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Guinness Carrick Sevens 23 Report

Posted On: Friday, May 26, 2023

The Guinness Carrick Sevens took place over the week-end of 28th to 30th April and produced some excellent rugby over all three competitions. Like last year, the weather was not all that kind for for the Saturday competition and the threat of thunderstorms – which in the event didn’t materialise – probably affected attendance on Sunday. Although the entry for the Mens’ Open competition on Saturday was down on normal levels – possibly the impact of the cost of living crisis on the willingness of teams from outside Northern Ireland to travel but mainly the effect of the sheer number of Cup and play-off games in local rugby in the second half of April – the quality of the rugby from the teams entered was high and the competition was closely contested. This was also the case for the Under 18s competition of Friday evening and the Ladies Tournament of Sunday. Indeed, in the Under 18s tournament, a couple of conversions going over/not going over could have resulted in a complete change around in the composition of the various finals. There were two teams from outside Northern Ireland; regular visitors Novos Ladies from Newcastle- Upon- Tyne who excelled themselves in reaching the final of the Cup competition and Dundee Valkyries who made a first appearance and ended up winning the Bowl in the Ladies competition. Our Fijian friends from County Down again entertained the crowd with their own fast and open brand of rugby and Philippines Harlequins made a first appearance and won the Willis Bowl on Saturday afternoon.Although there was no entry this year from long -term supporters Forrester, it was good to see Norrie and some of his compatriots in attendance and enjoying the odd shandy! There was also the usual childrens’ corner and the crowds on Saturday and Sunday were entertained in the gap between pool and play-off games by Cheeser’s spinning drop goal and frozen T-shirt competitions. As ever, the world famous Reaper Burgers were on sale and, no adverse effects having been reported from last year, the special Reapers’ Sauce – ingredients top secret – again proved extremely popular.

The Sevens got under way on Friday evening with the Under 18s competition sponsored by Sewing Solutions, with Marina Motors sponsoring the Player of the Tournament award and Noraut Ltd the match balls. The Everest Cup was won by City of Armagh who produced a strong second half fight bacjk to beat Dungannon in the final. The Plate was won by Instonians (RBAI)who edged out Portadown in the final, having lost out on a Cup final place by just two points in a hard-fought pool match with Dungannon. Carrickfergus Cowboys won the Bowl final, narrowly defeating Roughfort Raiders (BRA) and the closeness of the overall contest was demonstrated by the fact that Carrickfergus came close to defeating eventual winners Armagh in their pool game. The Marina Motors Player of the Tournament award went to Josh McAuley of Carrickfergus Cowboys; his all round game both in attack and defence was excellent across the three games in which he played. At the close of the competition the Everest Cup – named after past President of Carrickfergus RFC Johnson (Jonty) Everest who sadly passed away several weeks before the Sevens – was presented to the Captain of City of Armagh RFC by Jonty’s son and daughter. The other prizes were presented by John Stewart of Sewing Solutions.

The Quigg Golden Open Sevens on Saturday – for which Player of the Tournament sponsor was Dobbins Inn and ball sponsor was Glenkrag – was won by Omagh Accies who, like City of Armagh on Friday night, produced a great second half comeback to defeat Instonians in the final to lift the Holmes Salver. Omagh’s success was all the more creditable because they had to work hard to get to the final, their semi-final game against Grosvenor having gone to extra time. Instonians beat Fijian side NI Kaviti in their semi-final. The Plate was won by City of Armagh who overcame BR Barbarians in their final while Philippines Harlequins won the Bowl final to lift the Willis Bowl. The Dobbins Inn Player of the Tournament was Andrew McGrath of Instonians. At the conclusion of the Tournament the Holmes Salver was presented to the Omagh Accies Captain by Scott Holmes, the grandson of the late Alan Holmes who along with Wallace Luney, Ian Beggs, Davy Adams and Richard Price set up the Carrick Sevens Competition in 1973. The other prizes were presented by Eddie Quigg of tournament sponsors Quigg Golden.

On Sunday eight teams competed in the Mid & East Antrim sponsored Ladies Tournament, for which the Player of the Tournament sponsor was Clanrye Private Residential Home and the ball sponsor was J C Motors. The overall winners were Queen’s University, Belfast who defeated English visitors Novos in a closely contested final to take the Lynda Waring Memorial Cup. Banbridge won the Plate Final, beating Lisburn Ducks while Dundee Valkyries took the Bowl, defeating Randalstown in the final. The Wooden Spoon went to City of Derry who beat Carrick in the play-off. Clanrye P R H Player of the Tournament was Kerry McIlwaine of Queens. At the conclusion of the Tournament the Lynda Waring Memorial Cup and other awards were presented by the wife of the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim , Mrs Sheila Williams.

In his concluding speech, Club President Terence McCracken paid tribute to the Sevens Committee for their work in putting together another successful tournament, thanked all of the volunteers for their efforts over the week-end and in particular expressed the gratitude of the Club to the sponsors without whom there would not be any Tournament.

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