There was a strong Fermanagh presence on the Ulster Rugby League team who took on a much fancied Leinster side last Saturday at Malone RFC in the first of the summer's Inter-Pros, with Ulster looking to avenge the heavy defeat suffered at the hands of Leinster last year.
Rodney Bennett, Nicky Finlay and Ashley Finlay were all part of the team while Keith Armstrong was the Head Coach as Ulster egded a tight contest 12-10 on a scorching day that saw both sides put their bodies on the line for their respective provinces.
Keith, who recently guided the ulster student rugby league side to the Interprovincial title, took the step into coaching only a matter of four months ago, after being forced to retire from rugby due to injury. With his extensive rugby league background in representing Ireland over 20 times including the 2005 world cup, and also Ulster rugby league, Keith was asked to try and develop the levels of players in this fast growing sport throughout Ireland.
On Saturday, he was joined by three fellow Fermanagh men. Bennett started at prop, and had an excellent game, never taking a backward step, making the hard yards and making the tackle of the match. Nicky Finlay started at scrum half but was asked to play the dummy half role, a position Keith feels is ideal for Nicky as he can control the game. With his fantastic organisational skills, his accuracy in the pass and an eye for a break, Nicky was a constant menace to the opposition. Not only this but it was Nicky who kicked the two points to win the game for Ulster. Ashley Finlay started in his favoured position of full back, a position where he can have space to run free and spot the gaps. Ashley make some excellent solo runs, and tormented the opposition, but on the three occasions the ulster defensive line was breached, Ashley was there to make three outstanding game saving one on one tackles to stop Leinster scoring.
All in all the Fermanagh men were a force to be reckoned with, and all three should be very proud of their performance and achievement.
A fantastic result for the Ulster side and with the next game away to Munster in two weeks, Keith is looking to guide the Seniors to inter provincial glory as well as the students.
Keith knows this will be a very tough test having himself faced Munster last year, but he says: "Last year we beat Munster in one of the most physical matches of my career, this year I believe we have a much stronger squad, and I have full confidence that the boys will go out there and do the job, and that we will be crowned Inter Provincial champions. Munster are a physical side, but so are we, and I very much intend to face them head on, go toe to toe with them, and show the whole of Ireland why this Ulster side deserve to be Champions."