The inaugural Northern Ireland Rugby League Conference Grand Final was won by Ballynahinch Bulls who overcame East Belfast Bulldogs 38-26 in an excellent clash at Portadown.
Centre Stuart Morrow led the way scoring a hat trick of tries for the Bulls who started and finished strongly, Easts producing their best rugby in the period before and after the break.
Ballynahinch began superbly and were 18-0 up in as many minutes but by the hour mark the sides were locked at 22-all.
The Bulls re-grouped to post three late tries but, rewarding their unstinting effort, Easts had the final say on the whistle with a consolation touchdown.
Ballynahinch included cousins, Niall, Robert and James McBriar; Niall and James among their try scorers, scrum half Davy Nicholson posting their other four-pointer while Jonny Cullen landed five goals.
There was also a further family connection in the winning Bulls outfit with cousins Tim, Josh and Steve Morton all victorious.
For the Bulldogs, full back Ryan Fisher, prop Stan McDowell and loose forward Paul Magee all made an impression.
The match was the culmination of a four team season with Portadown Pumas and Strangford Sharks also competing in a series of festival weekends, with the English referees who have been flown over to officiate commenting on the standard and strength of the competition.
Meanwhile, Irish youngsters are being sought to take part in the Under 16’s European Cup, scheduled for Serbia between 17th and 23rd August.
A ‘Euro Celts’ side is entered which offers the opportunity for Irish players to join those from other European Nations to gain valuable international experience and exposure while also offering a superb life experience.
The qualification rule is that players can not have turned 16 prior to September 1st, 2009.
Anyone interested should contact Dean Reacher for further details at Wilberforce College, Saltshouse Road, Hull, HU8 9HD – UK.
T: +44 (0)1482 711688 F: +44 (0)1482 798991 W: www.wilberforce.ac.uk