Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final Previews February 2014 by Barney McGonigle

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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final Previews February 2014

There are four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final games scheduled for Saturday 22nd February.

Undoubtedly, the “Match of the Day” will take place at Osbourne Park where the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team will host their close rivals from Methodist College in a replay of the 2013 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Final.

On that occasion the Methodist College team won the match. However, the Belfast Inst team will feel confident of reversing that result when the teams meet in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Quarter-Final clash on Saturday. They still feel aggrieved in losing against Methodist College in a “friendly” game back in October. On that occasion the Belfast Inst team was short a number of key players in their pack. They should be back to full strength on Saturday and will feel confident of a successful outcome to the game. Harry Clelland and Andrew McGrath are key players in the Belfast Inst pack. They bring representative experience to the team and their performances, especially at set piece time, could be crucial to the eventual outcome of this game. Cameron Magee, Toby Boyd and Mark Mairs form a very effective breakaway trio for the Belfast Inst team. If they can put their skills to good use at the breakdown it should ensure a quantity of quality possession for the Inst backline to use. There are some very experienced and exciting players in the Inst back division with Cameron Black, Frazer Wright, Rory Campbell, Rory Bell, Robert Little, Josh Coyle TJ Morris and Conor Field all regular points scorers throughout the season. In difficult conditions in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round game against Dalriada, the Belfast Inst back line players got few chances to show what they were capable of doing. Given a good supply of ball, and good underfoot conditions against Methodist College, they will all want to get their names on the scoreboard on Saturday.
The Methodist College team had to weather a great opening salvo against Limavady Grammar School when the teams met in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round clash two weeks ago. However, having coped well for the opening quarter of the game the Methodist College team was able to step up a gear and went on to win the game in a reasonably comfortable manner. It was the performance of the Methody pack, in both scrums and lineouts, which wore the Limavady Grammar School team down. This provided quality possession which the Methody backs used effectively and they went on to record a good win. Team captain, Michael Lagan, will need his experienced forwards such as Steven Weir, Alex Thompson, Conall Boomer and Ross McAllister to get behind him and ensure there are no slip ups in their set piece plays or at the breakdown against the Belfast Inst team. The Methodist College backline can call upon the skills of representative players such as Josh Bingham, Connor McKee and Conor Kelly. These players have proved themselves with Ireland Schools’ U18 Schools and U19 teams. They bring great experience to a Methody backline that contains emerging players such as Wolfe Diamond, Alistair McIvor and Gareth Millar. Gareth is an excellent place kicker who will be only too happy to punish any opposition transgressions. This game will attract a very large crowd of supporters of both teams. There will also be a good number of interested, non-aligned schoolboy rugby supports at the game. The television cameras may even make it along to the game. Everyone should be in for a treat of the best of schoolboy rugby football.
This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Coleraine Academical Institution will seek to enhance their growing reputation when they host Ballyclare High School in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game.

The Coleraine AI team had a close, hard-earned victory in their Round 2 game against Banbridge Academy and comprehensively defeated Regent House in their 3rd Round clash. Those victories, and a home Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game, will see the Coleraine AI team feel they are favourites to win the game against Ballyclare High School. They have a very talented midfield trio in Callum Smith, Captain, Conor Shiels and hat trick hero against Regent House, Mark Gordon. These players will hope for a plentiful supply of quality possession from the Coleraine AI pack so they can cause problems for the Ballyclare HS defence. Daniel McAllister, Joel Stanbridge, Thomas Pethwick and Ollie McDowell are among the key members of the Coleraine AI pack. They will hope to maintain and, indeed, improve upon their Schools’ Cup form so far this season. They have come a long way since September and are genuinely seen as one of the competition’s “Dark Horse” teams. A victory against Ballyclare High School in the Quarter-Final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup will further enhance the growing reputation of this talented Coleraine Academical Institution team.
The Ballyclare High School team is determined to emulate the success of their recent predecessors and reach the Semi Final stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The team had a morale boosting win against Ballymena Academy in the previous round of the competition. They won that game with the last play of the match by 10-9 when Ross Johnston scrambled over for a try, which was converted by Matthew McDowell. That signalled all that is good in this Ballyclare High School team. They might not, at this moment in time, have the flair and panache of previous Ballyclare High School teams. However, they displayed a dogged determination against Ballymena Academy as well as a “never say die” attitude. The entire team defended valiantly for long periods of time against Ballymena Academy. They restricted the opposition to scoring points via shots at goal. Team Captain, Matthew Brolly, has the experienced James Beattie close to him in the Ballyclare HS midfield. The emerging Matthew McDowell is an exciting prospect who loves to take chances with the ball in hand. He is also a more than useful place kicker. The fact they have lost already this season to Coleraine AI will not unduly worry Matthew Brolly and his team mates. As a team they have greatly improved since that defeat earlier in the season. They will take great pleasure in going to Coleraine and put on a display that could see them reverse that score line at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game.
This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Down High School will have taken great confidence from their narrow victory against Rainey Endowed School in the previous round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

Any team that goes to Magherafelt on a Schools’ Cup morning, and emerges with a victory, deserves the utmost respect. They host a very talented Sullivan Upper team in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game, a game that represents a first for a Down High School team. This victory was based on the performance of the Down High School pack in which team Captain, Darren Cheung, stood out. He was well supported by players such as Thomas Donnan, Nathan Gibson and Thomas McCavera for the duration of that game. They are a strong scrummaging unit and have developed a very effective lineout. These two aspects of their game will have to at their best if they are to compete with a very competent Sullivan Upper pack. If they can claim parity with the Sullivan pack, there are backs on the Down High School team that will ask questions of any defence. Ricky Gill, Patrick Wright, Josh Bingham and Nick Gregg all need to be closely monitored by any opposition defence. In Ryan Smith, the Down High School team has a very skilful and pacey player who has emerged in recent games as a player worth going to watch in action. The Down High School team will approach this game quietly confident they could possibly cause an upset. It is their home game and it is a “one off” Schools’ Cup game!!
The Sullivan Upper team was never really stretched when they travelled to play Bangor Grammar School in the previous round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They came away with a deserved 25-0 win and will realise things will be tougher when they travel to play Down High School. Team Captain, Ross Todd, will let his team know just what to expect. The team will be told to forget a win, earlier in the season, against the same opposition. He will tell his players they must respect the Down High School team for what they have already achieved in their current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. He will tell his players they will have to be at their best if they are to overcome this hurdle, a hurdle that could deny them a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Semi-Final spot! Ross has a fantastic group of talented players to call upon. Dave Cave, Fergus Jemphrey, Josh Davidson and Callum Jeffrey are among the Sullivan Upper forwards who, along with Ross Todd, have played on a range of Ulster Schools’ Age Grade teams. In the back division, Mark Adair, David McMaster, Michael Cartmill and Zack Bertenshaw have all done likewise. There will be representative players on the Sullivan Upper bench; such is the strength of their current senior playing squad. Sullivan Upper will be seen as clear favourites to win this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game but they will only do so by not underestimating the opposition
This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30.

Campbell College will be delighted to be playing Wallace High School at Fox’s Field when the teams meet in their much anticipated Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Quarter-Final game on Saturday 22nd.

The Campbell College team seems to have hit a rich vein of form at just the right time of the season. They had a very good win against a determined Royal School, Armagh team in the previous round and that win will stand them in good stead as they come up against a well-organised Wallace High School team. Despite losing to Wallace earlier in the season, the Campbell College team could see themselves as favourites to win this game. A large number of players have returned from injury and there is a “feel good” factor surrounding the Campbell College squad at the minute. The recent return of players such as Conor McIlmurray and team Captain, Jack Owens, both Ireland Schools’ players in recent seasons, and the form of players such as Seb Heinrich, Jack Glendinning and Jack Howard has given the Campbell College squad a great belief in their ability to put together a good run of results in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. Phil Woods, Jonny Haldane and Matty Butler are other players the Wallace High School defence will need to monitor closely if they are to come away from Fox’s Field with anything in terms of a positive result.
The Wallace High School team had to work hard for their win at Belfast High School in the previous round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They will have benefitted from winning that game away from home but realise they will need to step things up to another level when they travel to play Campbell College. The return from injury of team Captain, Callum Irvine, for the Belfast High School game was a major boost for the Wallace High School team. His performance against Belfast High School was quite outstanding despite having been out of action for a period of time. The Wallace team was behind at the interval against Belfast High School but Callum rallied his troops in the second half. Jonny Stewart and Ryan Moore, the Wallace High School half backs, must display good game management skills at Campbell College. They must demand the quality possession required from their pack if they are to successfully bring the striking ability of players such as Ben Finlay, Andrew Cardosi and the multi-talented Jacob Stockdale into action. If they can the outcome of this game will be by no means “cut and dried”
This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

There are four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield games scheduled for Saturday 22nd February.

Dalriada School v Rainey Endowed School (Kick Off 10-30am)
Ballymena Academy v Belfast High School (Kick Off 10-30am)
Royal School, Armagh v Limavady Grammar School (Kick Off 11-15am)
Regent House v Bangor Grammar School (Kick Off 10-30am)
There are two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Semi-Final games scheduled for Saturday 22nd February.
Banbridge Academy v Omagh Academy (Kick Off 11-00am)
Foyle and Londonderry College v Lurgan College (Kick Off 10-45am)

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