Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th June 2021

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th June 2021 Foyle and Londonderry College travelled to play Ballymena Academy in U17 and U13 games on Wednesday 16th June. The U17 […]

Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 19th June 2021

Foyle and Londonderry College travelled to play Ballymena Academy in U17 and U13 games on Wednesday 16th June.
The U17 game was played at 15-a-side over 3×20 minute sessions which provided the opportunity for all members of the respective squads to get plenty of pitch time.
In the course of the first session Foyle College had a lot of early pressure but couldn’t break down the resolute Ballymena defensive line. Ben Fleming opened the scoring when he touched down for an unconverted try following an initial break by Connor Drain. This put the Ballymena Academy team into a 5-0 lead at the end of the first session.
The second 20 minutes saw the Ballymena team having to continue with their defensive duties with the Foyle College team launching a series of attacks through players such as Chris Boyd, James McKillop and Nigel Hamill. However, some dominant tackles, and a turnover, led to their second try. Good interplay between forwards and backs saw Connor Drain receiving the ball in space and he was delighted to win the foot race and touch down for the try. Connor added the extras to see his team into a 12-0 lead at the end of the second period of play.
At the start of the third 20 minute session Ballymena enjoyed their best spell of possession and scored an excellent team try from the restart. The ball was moved wide to Lewis Wharry who took play into the opposition half. Superb carries from Andrew Chesney, Connor Louw, Josh McNeilly and Andrew Donald set the platform for the backs to finish things off with Alex Comiskey touching down for an unconverted try in the corner to give his team a 17-0 lead.
Foyle and Londonderry College struck back with some strong carries from their forwards and a try from their impressive No 8, James McKillop, to reduce the deficit to 17-5. The Ballymena Academy team responded with two quick tries. The first was an unconverted try scored by Ethan McKillen who took advantage of some great work by Andrew Donald and Jordan Millar. With his team now leading by 22-5, Jordan Millar made a break from the restart and some great offloading led to Connor Louw darting in below the posts to score a try. Connor Drain converted the try to increase the Ballymena Academy lead to 29-5. Just before the final whistle James McKillop, a Foyle College player who has come to the attention of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 Management team, as well as the Irish Cricket U17 Management team, scored an impressive try, which was converted by Chris Boyd, to leave the final score reading Ballymena Academy 29 Foyle and Londonderry College 12.
Featuring strongly on the Ballymena Academy team was blindside flanker, Joshua McNeilly. As well as having to overcome the difficulties that everyone has experienced due to Covid in the past sixteen months, young Joshua has had to overcome three heart operation procedures as well. It was a proud moment for Joshua, as well as his family and team mates, when he stepped onto the pitch wearing the Ballymena Academy jersey and he played a leading role in the success of the Ballymena Academy team.
Thanks are due to Mr Stephen Johnston for refereeing the game so well. Among the few spectators present was former City of Derry 2nd Row, Foyle College teacher and rugby coach, Ulster Schools’ Secretary, IRFU Ulster Branch President and current Mayor of Muff in Co Donegal, Stan Huey. Stan took great pride in watching the performance of his talented grandson, James McKillop.
Despite impressive performances from Foyle College U13 players such as Shay Grimes, William Gamble and Darwyn Nutt there was little they could do to prevent the Ballymena Academy U13 team from recording an impressive victory at the end of the U13 game. The Ballymena Academy U13 team had very good performances from players such as Charlie Hargy, Ben Collins, Reuben Burnett and Ollie Collins.
Ballymena Academy U17 Squad:-
Connor Louw Sam McDonald Harry Marcus Andrew Chesney Ryan McKenna
Josh McNeilly Ben Fleming Andrew Donald Ben King Connor Drain
Daniel Thompson Jordan Millar Connor Corr Lewis Wharry Curtis Tuft
Ethan Mckillen Alex Comiskey

Foyle and Londonderry College U17 Squad:-
S Robinson F McDonnell J Williamson A Hunter AT Mason FJ Baylis J Milling
J McKillop A Killeen C Boyd N Rowe T Smith A Chambers N Hamill J Gamble
C Spain J Johnson A Hatrick O Reynolds A Kane
All four sets of players, as well as their coaches and staff, were delighted to get playing the games and the real winner in the course of all the games played between the two schools was the game of rugby football.
During the week Banbridge Academy hosted Enniskillen Royal Grammar School in a series of games played at U12, U13, U14 and Medallion level. Using the gamify approach these games provided the opportunity for a large number of young players to play the games with the emphasis on fun and fundamentals. All games were modified with uncontested scrums and lineouts and all Covid mitigations were in place.
The U12s played two exciting A & B matches. The Academy A team performed really well and showed great promise in a narrow defeat in their 12-a-side games on a sunny afternoon. Syd Moore ran in a couple of great tries and Calum McMurray and Adam Boggs worked hard in the loose.
The U12B team, made up predominately of players who have no previous rugby experience, did remarkably well against a bigger and more experienced Enniskillen RGS team. However, the players all really enjoyed their game and showed great promise with Ellis Humphries and Harry Johnston among the players who performed really well.
For the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School U12 teams players such as George Gamble, Ben Wallace, Hughie Beddard, Harry McKenzie, Felix Rowland, Sam Morrison, Conor Johnson, Matthew Wilson, Oliver Harte, Alfie Lucy, Robert Balfour, Brett Whitton, Charlie Cairns and Alex Irvine all impressed with their performances.
The U13 teams met a couple of days later and, once again, had a very competitive match with the Banbridge Academy team coming out on top. In their first foray into 15-a-side rugby both sides took advantage of the controlled format to ‘learn’ this full sided game. The Academy pack was excellent with Noah Haughey and Myles Mawson to the fore while in the backline Jonny Neill and Warren Hooke shone.
Jake Irwin, Adam Cathcart and Robert Kerr all featured with strong performances for the hard-working Enniskillen Royal Grammar School team.
The U14 teams also met and, while the Academy came out as winners, it was another competitive game with both sides playing some excellent running rugby. For the Academy Calum Little and Noah Bell were the pick of the forwards while Andrew Jackson and Elijah Dempsey were excellent in the backs.
For the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School U14 team Toby Newman, Morgan Whitaker, Paul Hawthorne and Thomas Barnet all impressed with their ability to score points both in terms of tries as well as off the tee.
The Medallion teams played out a 10 try thriller at 15 a-side. The Academy backline was in sparkling form with centre, Daniel Hutchinson, and full back, Luke Charman, each picking up a couple of scores, while Jacques McCauley scored the fifth. The forwards were also excellent with Ollie Kelly making multiple turnovers. A 5-5 draw was a fitting end to great game of rugby which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the players.
The Enniskillen RGS team had great performances from players such as Jake Woods, Noah Quigley, James Morrison, Eamon Greene and Billy Thompson in the course of this exciting and closely contested game.
This was exactly the type of game both the Banbridge Academy and the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School Medallion players needed as it has shown the players the areas they need to work on over the summer during their pre-season. Exciting times lie ahead for these teams as they build for the new season and Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ competition in October/November.
At the end of this exciting series of games the Banbridge Academy players enjoyed Domino’s Pizzas in recognition of their hard work since being enabled to return to play.
On Friday 18th June Foyle and Londonderry College played a number of small sided Year 8 fixtures against their near neighbours from Limavady Grammar School.
A number of players, including C O’Leary, Jayden Cahen, E Gallick, E Curry, T O’Neill, L Wilson, A Withrow, F McCartney, S Donnelly, O Doherty, M Lynch, S Reilly, M Smith, J Smallwoods, J Mackey, G Mallon, A Kenyon-Smith and C Doherty, featured strongly for the Foyle College teams.
Also, on Friday 18th June Ballymena Academy and Methodist College, Belfast played in a Year 8 Tournament which involved three teams each from both schools. All the players involved enjoyed the fun as well as the experience of playing for their school teams.
All the games were closely contested and players such as Patrick McCarey, Dylan Harrison, Zac Topping and Billy Wylie impressed with their performances in the Ballymena Academy teams.