Coleraine suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, in the semi-final of the Junior Cup at Omagh.
In the face of one of the strongest sides in Championship 1, Coleraine produced a spirited game but were unable to find the finishing touches to create a score.
Trailing 13-0 at the break, the visitors secured two penalty conversions, the only scores, in the second half.
It was a bruising encounter which saw the entire Coleraine panel put in great effort and they will take away many positives as they prepare for the resumption of league matches. This week sees another Conference League game on Thursday evening with the main target following on Saturday, 17 December, with an away game to CIYMS, a game that could be pivotal in the search for league honours this season.
Speaking after the game Coleraine head coach Richard Boyd said: “The squad are naturally disappointed to miss out on a trip to the Kingspan Stadium but I am very proud of the squad and their efforts.
“We have already had a tough cup run away to Ards, a local derby against Limavady and a big win against a strong Ballyclare side. Omagh are an excellent side who are well organised by Phil and Ashley and we wish them all the best in the final.
“We actually started the game very well but couldn’t break down the strong Omagh defence and ended up 13-0 down after twenty minutes. It took us a while to get up to the pace of the game but I thought we were the better side in the second half and showed fantastic spirit to push Omagh all the way.
“It is a difficult place to travel and if we had landed our penalty attempts and got the rub of the green on a few decisions it could have been a different story, but it wasn’t to be.
“As I said to the players, we will learn more as a squad from this defeat than any of our fixtures so far this season. It is important we look at the video as a squad and ensure we improve in certain areas but the boys are still in determined spirit.
“Thursday night provides the perfect opportunity to rotate the squad against Malone and help to build momentum going into the CIYMS game.”
In the game on Saturday, Coleraine made the early running and put the home side under a lot of pressure. However, with 14 minutes on the clock it was Omagh on the attack and a two-man overlap let them cross the line in the corner. The conversion went astray. 5-0
Ten minutes later and again Omagh were on the offensive. A speedy attack culminated in an unstoppable rolling maul and the prop crashed through for the touch-down. The conversion went wide. As the match continued Coleraine put in a great defensive effort but two penalties resulted in Omagh claiming three more points, the score at the break 13-0.
In the second half Coleraine went on the attack from the start and within three minutes the pressure paid off and Alan Clarke scored three points from a 22-metre penalty. 13-3 Coleraine kept up the pressure and ten minutes later claimed three points, from 25 metres, courtesy of Clarke as the home side infringed repeatedly. 13-6
The visitors kept pressing and five minutes later Clarke again went for the posts after a high tackle from the home defence but the ball drifted wide. Ten minutes later the ball went just wide again form a 30 metre attempt.
Omagh now progress to the final of the Junior Cup on 13 December against Ballynahinch 2s. In the weekend’s other games Coleraine 2s lost out 15-13 to Ards 2s whilst the Threes progress to the next round of the McCambley Cup after Ophir were unable to field a team.
This week Coleraine 1s travel to Malone 2s in the League. The Seconds’ match has been postponed.