Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 Previews Saturday 23rd January 2016
There are eight intriguing Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 fixtures scheduled for Saturday 23rd January 2016. As a result of the draw for these games at least two of the teams that entered the competition at the Round 1 stage are guaranteed to be in the hat for the Round 3 draw.
Belfast Royal Academy will host Grosvenor Grammar School in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. It has been a case of rebuilding for the Belfast Royal Academy team and central to that rebuilding has been the appointment of Brian McLaughlin as Director of Rugby in the school. Brian has David Creighton assisting him with the coaching of the BRA 1stxv but his brief in the school is a much wider one than simply concentrating his considerable coaching talents on the progress of the 1stxv. Brian has been involved in coaching players at every level throughout the school, setting structures in place and perhaps, more importantly, encouraging, mentoring and working with the coaches already involved with teams throughout the school. His success rate at 1stxv level in other schools in the province, as well as at other more senior levels in Ulster and further afield, sets Brian aside as an outstanding coach. He will be hoping his work with the current Belfast Royal Academy 1stxv squad will bear fruit in his first season in his new role. Brian and David have a number of very talented players with which to work. Team captain, Gareth McAdams has led by example in games throughout the season. He has seen his team win some vital games against teams that will enter the Danske Bank Ulster Schools Cup at a later stage. Gareth has some key players to call upon as his team sets out looking for success in this Schools’ Cup match. Michael Wilson has notched up a lot of points for the BRA team already this season. He is a superb place kicker but has scored quite a few tries as well in the course of the current season. Conor McAuley, Lewis Davidson and Conor O’Neill have been the top try scorers for the BRA team and the Grosvenor GS team will have to monitor these three players closely. Conor McAuley and Matthew Dalton have gained experience working with Ulster Age Grade teams earlier in the season and, such has been Matthew’s progress, he has attracted the attention of the Ireland U18 Management team. A recent involvement with the National U18 Camp puts Matthew in line for selection for the Ireland U18 team at Easter. Some of the younger players on the Belfast Royal Academy team have attracted the attention of the Talent ID Department at Ulster Rugby. Jude Cowley, Cormac McCracken and, in particular, Tom Gilpin have emerged as young players who have displayed a lot of potential. They will be hoping their performances in this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match will further enhance their considerable potential.
The Grosvenor Grammar School team has had a successful season thus far and they are hoping for more success before the end of the season. They are a relatively young team and have stuck to the philosophy of their coaching team of Gary Hunter and Andrew Gibson throughout the season. That philosophy is very simple-play attacking rugby at every opportunity. Many teams have witnessed the Grosvenor GS team do just that and to good effect. Even in games the team has lost they have impressed with their attacking skill level. Wesley College from Dublin defeated the Grosvenor team earlier in the season but it was a very close encounter. Team captain, Daniel Martin, is an attack minded player who has seen fellow backs such as Mark Johnston, Jos McConkey and Chris Allen get among the try scorers on the Grosvenor GS team this season. Not that the try scoring exploits of the team are restricted to the back division. Hard working forwards such as James Cartlidge, Andrew Boyd and Ben Davidson have been among the leading team try scorers as well. Ben’s undoubted ability was recognised earlier in the season when he played for the Ulster Schools’ squad in a pre-season friendly against the Connacht U18 team. Daniel Martin has had an outstanding season at full back and has led his Grosvenor Grammar School team with great aplomb. Jos McConkey has worked hard to develop his abilities on the rugby pitch and this hard work has seen Jos emerge as one of the hardest running inside centres currently playing schools’ rugby. He is also a superb distributor of the ball as well. The young Grosvenor Grammar School Year 12 No 8, Ben Davies, has made the transition from Medallion Rugby to 1stxv Rugby really well. He is one for the future and one the Belfast Royal Academy pack will have to watch closely.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am.
The Portadown College team will see themselves as clear and firm favourites to progress to round three as they prepare to host the Friends’ School, Lisburn team in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. A recent last minute win against the Lisburn team, as well as their hard earned first round win against Lurgan College, will have instilled a great deal of self believe in the Portadown College squad. Team coaches, Andrew Symington and Paul Heasley, were delighted with the win against Lurgan College in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They knew the team had not performed to their usual high level in the first half of that game but they had managed to hold the Lurgan team to just a 3-0 lead at the interval. After the interval it was a different story with the Portadown College team controlling most of the possession and territory in the course of the second half. This enabled team captain, Michael Orr, to manage the game more successfully from his outhalf position. His half back partner, Brett Fleck, found himself with more time to distribute the ball and give his backs more space from which to launch attacks. These two decision makers were central to the Portadown College rally in the second half of that game. The Portadown College pack, with the impressive backrow trio of Jordan Taylor, James Wright and Stuart Hodgen getting through a lot of work at the breakdown in that game, will seek to get early superiority against the Friends’ School pack. They will wish to control all aspects of their play from the start of the game. They are a powerful unit with a front row of Conor Webster, David Mc Clelland and Richard Gilpin that has rarely been troubled this season. Using second row forward, Alastair Gilpin, to throw into the lineout puts extra pressure on to lineout jumpers such as Taylor Tweedie and Stuart Hodgen but it seems they carry the responsibility well. Outside backs such as centres, Matthew Neill and James Hewitt, love to test the opposition defences with their strong and direct running. If the Portadown College back three trio of Ryan Daly, Peter McKeeman and Daniel Smyth can overcome the nerves they displayed in the first half at Lurgan the Friends’ School, Lisburn defence could be in for a busy Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 morning.
The Friends’ School, Lisburn team was made to work hard for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 victory against Wellington College. The Wellington College team might consider themselves unfortunate not too have scored more than three points against the Friends’ School team who, at one stage, found themselves down to fourteen players with one player having been sent to the “Bin”. It was testament to the Friends’ School defence in that game that the Wellington College team was restricted to just the three points. More of this sound defence and less ill-discipline will be required of the Friends’ School team when they travel to play Portadown College in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 encounter. The Friends’ School victory at Wellington College came at something of a cost with a number of players added to an ever increasing injury list. Thankfully most of the injuries could be classified as being off the minor variety but it could be a race against time for the Friends’ School team to be at full strength. Team coach, Stephen Robinson, who is assisted by Norman Gamble, Ivor Monaghan and Peter Weir, will hope for a good performance to give his team something of a chance to progress to the last sixteen of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. Team captain, James Maxwell, was delighted with the win against Wellington College. He will now realise his team mates will need to raise their performance up another notch, at least, if they are to achieve a similar result against Portadown College. Players such as David Stewart, David Newell, Curtis Dundas and George Pringle will need to perform to the best of their ability, if available to play, if the Friends’ School, Lisburn team is to have any chance of progressing to the next stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am at Portadown Rugby Football Club..
Bangor Grammar School will host a Limavady Grammar School team brimming with confidence in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Second Round on Saturday 23rd January. The Bangor Grammar School team, under the coaching of the astute Jason Morgan, has prepared well for their entry into the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. However, their recent good run of positive results has come with something of a great loss in that their hard working 2nd Row forward, Christopher Goldthorpe, will not be available for selection. Christopher picked up an injury to his femur bone in a recent game and the best wishes of everyone associated with rugby in Ulster Schools goes to Christopher for a full and speedy recovery. The Bangor Grammar School team, captained by Evan Wellard-McMillan has experienced a mixed bag of results this season. Early results suggested the squad was struggling for a consistent approach and this seemed to frustrate the players who became aware of the fact they were not achieving that of which they were capable.
However, since November the results of the Bangor Grammar School team have gone from strength to strength. They seem to have found an appropriate level of consistency with their performances and this has been rewarded with wins against teams such as Dalriada and Regent as well as a draw against a more than useful Wallace High School team. The top scorer for the Bangor GS team is Zack Kerr who is a very fine place kicker. He has also scored a number of tries this season. Top try scorer is Connor McKee who weighs in with twelve to his name while Lewis Brett and Matthew Agnew both come a close second. Matthew is a young player who is academically gifted as well. He acquired ten A* grades in his recent GCSE Examinations and actually played for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team before he played for the Bangor Grammar School 1stxv! Lewis Brett is emerging as a very talented footballing outhalf and one who continually asks questions of opposition defences. His game management skills seem to be improving with every recent outing. Centre, Charlie Blair, will have no shortage of advice from within his own family when it comes to Schools’ Cup time. His two older brothers went through the school and played in a number of Schools’ Cup matches. Charlie is an abrasive and direct runner who has developed very strong defensive skills as well. He brings leadership skills to the Bangor GS backline as well. In the Bangor Grammar School pack players such as prop, Martin Withers, and second row, Patty Eves stand out because of their sheer physical presence. Martin is a 122kg strong scrummaging prop forward who is more than effective with the ball in hand while Patty is a towering 6’ 6” second row forward who has been described as having a great engine. Both these players will be hoping to be involved in a successful Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup run in the hope their talents might be recognized by the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Management team.
The Limavady Grammar School team came successfully through a tricky Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup first round encounter when they defeated the Cambridge House Grammar School team in front of a huge group of partisan supporters under the floodlights at Ballymena RFC. This victory will have given the Limavady Grammar School team a great deal of confidence as they had to dig deep in the final quarter of that game in order to secure their win. This had been one of the aspects of the Limavady Grammar School coaches, Chris Nash and Brian Hughes, had been working on in the training sessions leading up to that game. The coaching staff had recognized that early season performances saw their team do well for 3/4s of a lot of games and then fall away in the final quarter of the game. Their hard work seemed to pay off in the first round game. More of the same will be required if the Limavady Grammar School team is to take anything away from the Bangor Grammar School team at the end of this game. The Limavady Grammar School captain, Mark Woods, was central to the Limavady Grammar School victory against Cambridge House with his try scoring exploits in that game. However, it was the kicking skills of Jim McCartney that really caught the eye when he landed penalties, as well as conversions, from some particularly difficult angles on what was not an easy night for kickers. The Bangor Grammar School discipline will need to be good. Guratap Sandhu, David Mullan, Ethan Sherrard and James Scott are other Limavady Grammar School players that showed up well against Cambridge House. Robbie Young, Jamie Young and Alistair McKee are Year 12 players who will bring a degree of youthful exuberance to the proceedings when the Limavady Grammar School team takes to the pitch for this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.
The Regent House School team will host Portora Royal School in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 23rd January. The Regent House team, coached by Nick Gamble, who can call upon the experienced hands of Mervyn Tweed, Paddy McGrath and Peter Lowry for help and advice, has had a mixed set of results in the course of the current season. They will be hoping their squad of talented players will have a successful run in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign and put themselves in the position of realizing their full potential. Team captain, Tom Arthur-Donnan leads the Regent House team from the hooker position. Either side of him, in a formidable Regent House front row, he can upon the expertise of Ethan Bradley and Kyle Van Giesen. Kyle has caught the attention of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Management team as well as the attention of the Ireland U18 National Management team. He will have gained a lot from his attendance at the recent National U18 Camp in Ashbourne. The potential loss of 2nd Row forward, Matthew Foster, to a leg injury, could be a blow to the Regent House pack but with other players such as Josh McFarland, Ryan McCarroll, Rory Jackson, Ali Deering and Josh Crossan to call upon the loss of Matthew may not be as keenly felt. Josh Crossan is an NI U18 Powerlifting Champion while Ali Deering has been among the top try scorers for the Regent House team this season. Robbie Johnston has been the top points scorer for the Regent House team and his emerging talents are being monitored closely by the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department. He forms an effective half back partnership with Adam Curry and these players will hope their pack will provide sufficient quantities of quality possession throughout the game. If that happens there are talented players in the Regent House back division who will be keen to test the Portora RS defence with the ball in hand. Players such as Vice-Captain, Aaron May, Alex Hendrickse, Ryan Colwell, Matthew Stanex and David Jamison will be only too willing to ask the necessary questions given the right circumstances to do so.
The Portora Royal School team has proven to be a difficult team to beat this season. Team coach, Rhys Botha, has the experienced Ashley Finlay assisting him with the coaching responsibilities. Despite having had to deal with a series of injuries the Portora Royal School coaching staff and players can look at their success rate with a great deal of satisfaction. The younger players who have been brought in have really stepped up to the mark and this has provided some real selection dilemmas for the coaching staff. Team captain, Josh Kennedy, along with Connor Keys and Robert Baloucoune, have had their talents recognised by Ulster and Ireland Age Grade Management teams. Connor played with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18’s squad while Robert and Josh played with the Ulster U19’s team. Robert was then selected to attend the Ireland U19 Camp earlier in the season. Not only are Connor and Josh talented rugby players but they were also vital members of a Portora Royal School All Ireland winning Junior 8 Rowing team. Matthew Dane and Jack Rutledge are two of the younger members of the Portora Royal School squad and they have been among the top try scorers on the team this season. Robert Baloucoune has been the top try scorer and Connor Keys the top points scorer this season. The Regent House defence will have to monitor these players very closely in the course of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 encounter.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am
The Foyle and Londonderry College team will host Antrim Grammar School in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 23rd January. Regardless of the outcome of this game one of these teams will definitely be among two of the teams that entered the cup at Level One who will find themselves in the draw for the last sixteen stage of the competition, the other team coming from the Portadown College v Friends’ School, Lisburn game. The Foyle and Londonderry College team have proved difficult to beat at home this season and their success, on the road, against Belfast High School in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup shows just what a competent team they are. Team coach, David Barnett, who is assisted by Ian Orr, was delighted with their first round victory. However, he will take nothing for granted against an Antrim Grammar School team that experienced success on the road against Banbridge Academy at the end of their first round game. David knows there is more to come from his team.Team captain, Callum McDonnell, is a younger brother of last season’s captain, Alex. There will be no shortage of sound advice from that source. Ian Orr, as well as having a “professional” interest in the game, will have a personal interest in the game as his son, Matthew, has emerged as a key player for the team throughout the current season. Not only has Matthew been an effective try scorer with the ball in hand but he is also an outstanding place kicker who has been the leading points scorer for his team this season. His performance on Boxing Day against the City of Derry RFC U18 team, as well as against the Belfast High School team during their first round clash, bears witness to his abilities. Young Foyle and Londonderry College No 8, Joel Smyth, had an outstanding game in the first round game. He will be hoping for another big performance to enhance his growing reputation. Reece Hughes, Matthew Alford, Thomas Cole, Cameron McCracken, Stephen Mills and Killene Thornton are other Foyle and Londonderry College players whose performances will need to be closely monitored by the Antrim Grammar School defenders when the teams clash in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game. They all shone in the first round and will be hoping for repeat performances in the second round of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
The Antrim Grammar School team will travel to play the Foyle and Londonderry College team full of confidence following their win against Banbridge Academy in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. Very few people, outside of the Antrim Grammar School squad, expected them to win that encounter but their stunning victory has made quite a few people sit up and take notice. The coaching team of Robin McKenna, Mark Hermin and Michael Duncan has seen their young charges improve week on week since the start of the season and their hard work paid off with their first round victory. The coaches have taken on a fixture list that has been appropriate for the requirements of the Antrim GS squad. This, in turn, has led to the development of a greater number of senior players in the school which has seen a great deal of competition for places on the starting xv. Team captain, Daniel McGrandles, is a player who leads his team with great aplomb. He has high expectations of all his players and his players have supported him fully in all their games this season. The Antrim Grammar School team has recorded close encounters with teams such as Belfast High School, Larne Grammar School and Lurgan College but their win against Banbridge Academy capped all the earlier good results.. Their hard work will see them approach their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match against Foyle and Londonderry College with an extra degree of confidence. JJ McKee, a member of the Ulster Schools’ U18 squad, is a player to be watched and has been among the top try scorers for his team this season. Adam Johnston and Daniel McGrandles are regular try scorers as well with Adam scoring a critical try against Banbridge. The Foyle College team will have to monitor closely, not only these players, but also players such as Josh Battishill, Andy Craig, Sam Gordon and Jack Francis, if there is not to be what would be seen as another upset on the cards. Brothers, John and Patrick Adair, are vital members of the Antrim Grammar School squad and if the Antrim Grammar School players can continue with their positive approach to this game, as they did to their first round game, it could prove to be more than an interesting encounter.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.
Dalriada School will host Omagh Academy in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 23rd January. This is an intriguing fixture as these teams have experienced great success during the current season but have not yet played each other. The Dalriada team, coached by Rab Gregg and Benji Van Der Byl, has had a successful season in terms of results so far. They have a very mobile pack of forwards with which to work and a pack that can produce quality set piece possession as well quick ruck ball. Aaron Christie, Matthew Lockhart and Matthew Kernoghan are the experienced players in the pack with each of them playing in their third Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. Matthew Kernoghan, son of former Ulster Schools’, Ireland Schools and Ireland U21’s hooker, Richard, is equally adept at playing in the hooker or blind side flanker positions and he brings a great deal to the Dalriada pack with his flexibility. Alan Montgomery has been involved with Ulster Age Grade squads over the past few seasons and his all action style is greatly appreciated by his team mates. Team captain, Angus Johnston, is the top try and points scorer for the Dalriada team. A talented on-stage actor as well Angus forms an astute halfback partnership with Matthew McConnaghie and their aim will be to move the opposition around the park. There is power and pace aplenty in the Dalriada back line. Ross Fallows and Thomas Hunter, as well as being talented rugby players, are talented athletes. Ross has represented Northern Ireland in Volleyball and both have represented Northern Ireland in Athletics. Gavin McConnaghie has Northern Ireland Volleyball honours behind him as well. Perhaps the jewel in the Dalriada back division crown is Stewart Moore. Stewart is a very talented rugby player who has scored many points this season through tries and goal kicks. He is another player who is being closely monitored by the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department. Stewart will be out to further impress in this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game against Omagh Academy.
The Omagh Academy team has had a great season, results wise, since September. Home or away in Ulster they have dropped only a few games and they will fear no=one in the course of the current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. They can play a tight forward dominated game or they have the ability to move opposition teams around. A lot will depend on the state of the pitch, as well as the conditions, when they decide upon their game plan. Wins against teams such as Coleraine Grammar School and Down High School earlier in the season mark them down as a team with which to be reckoned. Ross Hunter is coaching the team and he continues to receive undaunting support from the ever-green Jackie Reid- a man who has forgotten more about forward play than some others will ever know-and John Lagan. These three have coached an Omagh Academy side that lays great emphasis on getting the basics in all aspects of the game done well and at the right time. Team captain, Matthew Clyde, is a player who is never far away from the action and his all-action style of play has been rewarded with the large number of tries he has scored for his team this season. Kyle Beattie is an outstanding place kicker but, more than that, he has worked hard to develop his game management skills from his outhalf position. He will be only too pleased to punish any Dalriada indiscretions inside their half of the pitch. As a team coach John Lagan takes a great interest and pride in the performances of all the players with whom he works. However, in all likelihood he takes an even greater pride in the performances of his sons Taine and Fintan. Both these players have done their father, as well as their team, proud with their first rate performances throughout the current season. James Longwell, nephew of former Ulster and Ireland player, Gary, has been involved with the Ulster Schools’ U17 squad while Glenn McKinley, a highly rated tight head prop, and Taine Lagan have both been involved with Ulster Schools’ Regional Age Grade squads. These players will see their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 clash with Dalriada as an opportunity to further enhance their prospects of representative honours.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.
The Royal School, Armagh team was one of six teams that won away from home when they defeated Larne Grammar School in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They will be pleased to have a home tie when they play the Rainey Endowed School team in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 23rd January. The Royal School, Armagh team had to work hard, in the most difficult of conditions, to come away from the Larne Grammar School game with a win. They will have to work even harder if they are to get a win against a very competent Rainey Endowed School team. The team will have taken a great deal of satisfaction from their win against the Larne Grammar School team but will realise there is still much more work to be done. Team coaches, David Dougherty and Chris Parker, will be hoping all their hard work will pay off as the team prepares to entertain the Rainey Endowed team in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 encounter. Despite the difficulties the team has experienced this season they have managed to record a number of impressive victories, most notably against Coleraine Grammar School earlier in the season. A recent training camp, held at the Johnstown Hotel complex at Enfield, finished with the Royal School, Armagh squad playing a team from Cistercian College, Roscrea. The Cistercian squad are the current holders of the Leinster Schools’ Cup and the Royal School; Armagh team recorded a win against them in this game. Christopher Jennings, a player equally adept at playing full back or wing, along with Matthew Reaney are the leading try scorers for the RS Armagh team this season. Christopher, like his father John before him, represented Ulster Schools when he played against Connacht earlier in the season. Team captain, Josh Agnew represented the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team in the Inter-Provincial series of games in September. Josh, who is also a Deputy Head Boy in the school, is a nephew of famous Old Armaghian, Ian McCall, and cousin of John McCall, who lifted the Schools’ Cup for the Royal School, Armagh team in 2004. James McSorley was also a member of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad while top points scorer, Michael Reaney, as well as Jack Cairns, have been involved with the Ulster Schools’ U17 squad. With seven Year 12 players in the squad one of whom, Archie McAlpine, is displaying tremendous potential. It was Archie who scored the decisive try in the game against Larne Grammar School. The Royal School, Armagh team will see their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup against match Rainey Endowed as an opportunity to further launch their season and give these young players a real feel for the future.
The journey to the College Hill venue for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game against the Royal School, Armagh team will hold little fear for the Rainey Endowed School squad. A recent visit to the same venue saw the Rainey Endowed School team emerge as convincing winners and that win would place the Rainey Endowed team firmly into the position of favourites to win this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match. The Rainey Endowed coach, Chris Campbell, who is assisted by Peter Boyle and Stu McCalmont, has put together a formidable squad of talented players who have beat beaten only twice this season. Team captain, Andrew Browne leads from the front and he has had the experienced hands and heads of players such as Lorcan Quinn and Anton Lupari to assist him. Anton is an Ulster U19 player who attended the National U19 Camp back in October. As well as being a talented ball playing forward, who can play in both the front and back rows, Anton is among the leading try scorers on the Rainey Endowed School team. Lorcan Quinn has scored quite a few tries this season, as well, but it is his success with the boot that makes him the leading points scorer for the Rainey Endowed team. Lorcan, like his team mates Adam Hunter, Mark Mulholland and Michael Lynn, is not just a talented schoolboy rugby player but has had his sporting talents recognised by the Derry Minor GAAteam. These four players have played leading roles in the success of their team in that sporting code as well. The Rainey Endowed School squad contains quite a number of younger players in their ranks. Year 12 players who will be keen to impress in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign include David Atkinson, Matthew Smyth and Adam Thornton. All of these players have successfully made the step-up to the ranks of the Rainey Endowed School 1stxv this season.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am
Ballyclare High School will host the Royal School, Dungannon team in the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday 23rd January. The Ballyclare High School Director of Rugby and 1stxv coach, Michael Orchin-McKeever was hoping his pre-season tour to New Zealand and Australia would have laid the foundations for a successful domestic season after their return. In many ways it did with good levels of success being experienced by all the senior teams in the school. However, a number of extended periods off injuries to key players ensured that results were not as positive at 1stxv level as might have been otherwise hoped for. Michael, and his assistant coaches, Gary Clotworthy and Ulster Rugby prop, Ricky Lutton, a former pupil of the school, will see their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign as an opportunity for the Ballyclare High School team to move their season forward in a positive direction. Team captain, Ryan McIlwaine, is a player whose progress has been monitored by Ulster Rugby. Ryan is the leading points scorer for his team and is a player who always leads by example. Interestingly, Ryan’s twin sister is captain of the Ballyclare High School 1stX1 Hockey team. The Ballyclare High School team has scored many tries in their games this season with players such as Alistair Burke, Dean Jones and Andrew Seymour leading the try scoring charts. Alistair Burke was involved with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ squad as a second row forward while Jack Magee has also been involved with Age Grade representative squads. Jack Lewis, Owen Kirk, Zachary McMurran and Jack Blair have been involved with Regional Age Grade squads and they will be hoping for a successful run in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup in order to enhance their possibilities of attaining even higher honours. Young forwards such as Adam McConkey and James Nelson have successfully made the transition from junior to senior Rugby while Jake McVicker has worked hard to develop his skills as a young strong running centre.
The Royal School, Dungannon team was the only team to win at home when, in the first round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup, they defeated a very hard working Carrickfergus Grammar School team. The RS Dungannon team won that game despite losing two key players to minor injuries just prior to the kick. Team coach, Gareth McClintock, who is assisted by Gareth Lucas and Jason Hunniford, will be hoping they will have all their players fit for selection prior to their visit to Ballyclare High School. The RS Dungannon coaches clearly set their stall out before the Round 1 game and made it clear to their players that they did not want to be in the position of having to defend their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy. Having won it for the previous two seasons the players were set the target of getting into the second round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup this season. They succeeded in doing so and with something to spare! Now they will need to raise their level of performance to an entirely different level if they wish to enter the draw for the last sixteen of the competition. The team has been away to Portugal to prepare for their Schools’ Cup campaign. In Portugal the squad had the opportunity to work on individual as well as unit skills, tactical awareness and the strength and conditioning aspects of the game. This hard work obviously paid dividends in the game against Carrickfergus Grammar School. Team captain, Peter Doran, brings a wealth of representative experience to his squad. He was a key member of the Ulster U19 squad and is looking forward to being involved with the next Ulster U20 squad. Peter was joined in the U19 squad by David Cooper, the hooker, who has used Peter as one of his main lineout targets throughout the season. Joseph Cashel, Aaron Perry and Josh Fegan have among the leading try scorers this season with Aaron kicking quite a few points with his trusty place kicking skills. As well as the experienced players such as Peter Doran and David Cooper in the RS Dungannon pack there are a number of emerging players who have caught the eye as well. Josh Patton, their Year 12 Number 8, is a nephew of Keith Patton, the former RS Dungannon, Ulster and Ireland Schools’ Coach. Beside Josh in the RS Dungannon backrow is Calvin Nelson, a young player renowned for his pace and tenacious tackling ability. Calvin is a cousin of one of the rising stars of Ulster Rugby, Peter Nelson. All of these players took leading roles in the game against Carrickfergus Grammar School. These young players will be hoping to have the same positive influence on the eventual outcome of the game against Ballyclare High School for the Royal School, Dungannon team.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.
There is one Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy game Quarter-Final game scheduled for Friday 22nd January when Cambridge House Grammar School will play Strabane Academy at 1-00pm.
On Saturday 23rd January the remaining Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Quarter-Final games will take place.
Carrickfergus Grammar School will play Larne Grammar School at 10-30am.
Wellington College, Belfast will play Banbridge Academy at 10-30am.
Belfast High School will play Lurgan College at 10-30am.