Enniskillen’s back row forward Jack Rutledge believes the team’s preparations have put them in a great position to take on the challenge of Ballyclare in the Ulster Junior Cup final.

The first XV finished their league campaign in February, and have not played since their semi-final victory over City of Derry two weeks ago, and that has given the squad time to fine tune their preparations for Monday’s final.

“We have had a couple of weeks break from the last game to get the bodies right and we have been able to work on a few things before Monday,” revealed Rutledge.

“The break gives the boys who have a few knocks time to recover, and its good you can practice a few things on the training ground without getting the bangs and bruises of a full contact game.

“A few years ago we had a big break before a Towns’ Cup final and that suited us well, so we will take something from that. That was something like four weeks before the match and boys treated it as a mini training camp.

‘Back our own ability’

“We have had four of five sessions before this game, and we have focussed on each one of them and it’s not too far away now. We know Ballyclare are a good team but we back our own ability, and if we play well we won’t be too far away come the final whistle.”

At 23 years of age Jack counts himself as one of the more experienced members of the team, and he thinks that youthful element of the squad could prove to be key to how they approach the game.

“They have no fear and they like throwing the ball around,” he said.

“They are really fit and fast and that is what we are trying to implement our game style on and move the ball a bit.

“A lot of the boys in the team now played in the final against Clogher in January. That was probably the first big game for a lot of them, but I think they learnt from that and there should be less nerves this time. They have got that bit of experience under their belts. We know we have done the hard work on the training pitch, so now it about going out and performing.”

A crucial part

Ballyclare won 16 of their 18 league games and triumphed in the Towns’ Cup final against a weakened Clogher Valley side, but Rutledge is hoping the travelling support can play a crucial part in cheering the Fermanagh side on to victory.

“The club has been riding a wave recently with success in the minis and the youth and the female teams, and it would be nice to see a big crowd out,” he admitted.

“Our crowds have been great. We have had some big away trips and the crowd really lifts us. We have probably underperformed in the league and we are under no illusions.

“Ballyclare are the second best team in the league, and they are a great side themselves, but we have beaten them in big games before and we are confident that if we can get our defence right we can shut some of their big players down, and that gives us every chance to be in with a shout towards the end of the game.

“We have to cut out as many errors as we can and then when we are in their 22 come away with points.

“We are really looking forward to it.”