|Enniskillen U18 Boys
||10 - 13
||Armagh U18 Boys
Enniskillen U18 10
Armagh U18 13
Last Saturday Skins U18s fielded against the current ulster club champions at this age group with no less than 5 absentees due to GAA commitments, illness and a concussion. Not the perfect start but an opportunity for some fringe players to step-up to the mark and boy did they do just that... A much bigger Armagh side looked to dominate early but were firmly put in their place by a strong defensive performance by the forwards, and backs also standing their ground. Skins were to take the early lead after 5 minutes with an Oisin Monaghan penalty in front of the posts when Armagh failed to release after pressure in the rucks. This was to waken the visitors who immediately from kick-off forced a skins knock-on inside their 22, and again resilient defence kept them at bay until a decision by the ref led to Dylan Flynn
being shown a yellow card, allegedly off his feet at the ruck.
A man down was to prove too much for Skins as Armagh forced their way over the line leaving the score 3-5. Skins regrouped and stuck to the task and for the duration of the man in the bin it was hard to believe that they were they were short of numbers. The forwards were matching their opponents in set piece and in the loose and their sheer determination was the difference at times against this confident unbeaten Armagh side. Young players and senior alike were fighting and scrapping for every ball. A burst through the middle involving off loads to several players ended in Zak Kyle touching down close to the posts and Oisin Monaghan converted leaving the score 10-5 and deservedly so. Armagh were shown yellow just before half time when a player had words with the official following a rare occasion when skins were awarded a penalty.
The 2nd half was to prove to be more of the same with Skins now believing that they could compete with this unbeaten side. However, as in the 1st half, this was made more difficult by some unusual decisions from the official who took exception to the skins captain, waving him away on numerous occasions. Skins didn't take advantage of the extra bodies on the pitch and the makeshift back line underused in attack. The fluent big carries from Clarke, McStravick, Timoney, Leonard, Thompson and McCrystal that we had seen in the first half were still gaining ground, only this time the offloads weren't quite going to hand and led to Armagh possession. The defence had been good all day with McCrystal, Timoney and McManus tackling anything that moved around the fringes, and the backs putting their bodies on the line with Flynn, Kyle, Monaghan, Greenaway, McGowan, Anderson, Nixon and Brown, most playing out of position, putting in some bruising tackles. With that said Armagh were eventually awarded a try despite protests that the ball had been dropped over the line, making the score 10-10 with just over 10 minutes to play. A long range penalty opportunity wasn't successful for skins as they tried to close the game out and again line out opportunities close to the Armagh line weren't taken when they offered themselves. Instead it was Armagh, who on a rare visit to the skins half, were awarded a soft penalty which slipped just inside the posts making it 10-13 to the visitors. Skins rallied to get back for one final push to make amends but it wasn't to be. It was bitterly disappointing for the side to have the game taken from their grasp at the very end but this young side will learn from the experience. Once again the belief may not have been there before kick off when so many of the original starting team were absent but it certainly was by the end of this bruising game and the replacements have given the coaches something to think about as they prepare to face another senior league side next week in the form of Dungannon.