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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Semi-Final Previews Tuesday 6th – Wednesday 7th March 2018
The first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2018 semi-final games will be played at the Kingspan Stadium on Tues 5th March
when the Campbell College, Belfast team will play the Methodist College, Belfast team.
The Campbell College team has enjoyed a fair amount of success this season and, as ever, they will be aiming to continue their recent strong performances in the course of their current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. They were impressive with their display of attacking rugby in the course of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 4th Round game against a very talented Dalriada School team but had to work much harder before they were able to hold out for a narrow victory against Ballymena Academy in the quarter-final. The Campbell College team is coached by Neal Doak who has done a great job in developing the skills of all the players with whom he comes in contact. Neal is fortunate to have the experience of Brian Robinson and the youthful exuberance of Jonny Cupitt to assist him as he prepares this talented Campbell College squad for the undoubted challenges that lie ahead. The Campbell College team is captained by John McKee who captained the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team to Inter-Provincial success back in September. John displayed great leadership skills during that campaign and he will be hoping to do so once again when he leads his team into this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final game. John has some very talented players in the Campbell College squad. Oisin Kiernan and Jamie Maccartney were ever present with the Ulster U19 team earlier in the season. Alongside John McKee, Ben Power featured with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team as did Jack Stinson. As well as that the talents of players such as Oscar Yandell, Harry Owens, John Harrison and Rex Tinsley have been recognised by the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department. However, the Campbell College top points scorer is their very talented outhalf, Conor Rankin. Conor has displayed great game management skills this season and is one of the best place kickers playing in Ulster Schools’ rugby at the minute. All of these talented Campbell College players, and especially Conor Rankin, shone with their effort and industry against a very talented Ballymena Academy team. The Methodist College team will need to be disciplined as any indiscretions inside their half will be severely punished by Conor. Jamie Maccartney is the leading try scorer for the Campbell College team this season but Conor has not been far behind. In all likelihood this will be a very closely contested game as the Methodist College team has had a very successful season to date in the course of the games they have played.
The Methodist College, Belfast team seems to be coming good at just the right time of the season. Having been beaten finalists in the 2017 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup the current squad of players would love to put that record straight with regard to the 2018 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They travelled to Coleraine Grammar School in the fourth round and came through, with flying colours, what might have been a tricky encounter against a very confident Coleraine Grammar School team. They then took on a Bangor Grammar School team that lacked nothing in terms of confidence and ability in their quarter-final game. The Methodist College team started that game displaying an attacking game that lacked nothing in terms of skill, awareness and ambition The team has attacked at every opportunity with the ball in hand in both their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games this season. The wide open spaces of the pitch at the Kingspan Stadium should encourage the Methody team to stick with the attacking prowess displayed this season and continue to reap the rewards this positive approach has brought this season. The Methodist College team is coached by the experienced duo of Nicky Wells and Stephen Lindsay. Team captain, Matthew Neill, has seen his team win the majority of their games this season. Matthew led his players with great distinction against Coleraine Grammar School and Bangor Grammar School in the course of their current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounters. The team has recorded some impressive victories including a win against the Portugal U19 team earlier in the season. Conor Kelly is the top try scorer for the Methodist College team this season. Conor is one of the in-form backrow players playing in Schools’ Rugby in Ulster at the minute. His approach to the game is dynamic and he displays an outstanding work ethic which seems to rub off on his colleagues. Ethan McIlroy has recorded most points for the Methody team with his try scoring ability and place kicking skills serving his team well. Ben Crangle, Kevin McNaboe, Thomas Armstrong, Robbie Armstrong, Chris Larmour, and Ethan McIlroy were all involved with the successful Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad earlier in the season. Both Ben and Kevin have been attendees at Irish Schools’ U18 Camps this season. Samuel Bernard is another of the Methody players the Campbell College defence will need to monitor closely in the course of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ semi-final game. The Methodist College team is composed of mostly Year 13 players but there is a feeling in the Methody camp that this squad would be seen as a much more traditional Methodist College cup team. Undoubtedly, the Campbell College team will enter this contest with a very positive frame of mind having successfully come through their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounters this season. However, the Methodist College team will hope to get a good start to this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final game, and build upon it, as the players did so successfully in their previous Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games this season..
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Semi-Final game will kick off at 2-30pm.
The second of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2018 semi-final games will be played at the Kingspan Stadium on Tuesday 6th March
when the current holders of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup, Royal Belfast Academical Institution, play the Royal School, Armagh team.
The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team seems to have come through two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games this season against Ballyclare High School and Sullivan Upper School in a comfortable enough manner. However, it is felt that, despite being made to work hard for their victories in both these games, the Belfast Inst players have not really played to their full potential in the course of their current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team are the current holders of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup and have held the cup for the past three seasons. They are determined to make if “Four in a Row” come March 19th!! Team coach, Dan Soper, who continues to receive assistance from Richard Hedley with coaching responsibilities, can call upon the expertise of Gavin Noble as Physiotherapist, Mike Bentley who looks after the S&C aspects of team preparation and Andrew Douglas in the vitally important role as Team Manager. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team captain is David McCann who has the experienced Niall Armstrong to assist him as Vice- Captain. The team has been undefeated so far this season against teams from schools in Ulster. David McCann and Angus Adair were vital members of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team and both have attended Ireland Schools’ U18 Camps. Both have excelled in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup this season. Robin McIlveen was also involved with the U18 Schools’ team and, but for injury, would have attended the Ireland Schools’ Camps. The return to play of Robin has been a major boost to the Belfast Inst squad as his performances against Ballyclare High School and Sullivan Upper School in the previous rounds of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup would suggest. Niall Armstrong and David Lyttle, both of whom were involved with the Ulster U19 team, have two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Winners medals already. They would both be very keen to ensure they secure their third medals come March. These two players will be among a number of players the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department will be watching closely as the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup progresses. Both Niall and David have played leading roles in the course of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup this season and the success experienced to date by the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team. A successful tour to New Zealand last summer, as well as a post -Christmas training camp, would appear to have set the current squad Belfast Inst squad up for a more than realistic challenge for Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup honours this season. The Royal Belfast Academical Institution players and staff will be unlikely to leave anything to chance as they prepare for this crucial Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final game.
The Royal School, Armagh team has experienced a very successful season in terms of some very positive results gained in the lead up to the start of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. They added to their reputation with a fine victorys against Cambridge House Grammar School and the much fancied Wallace High School in the previous rounds of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Royal School, Armagh team is coached by Willie Faloon and Chris Parker who are assisted by James McCall. If any sage wisdom or advice is required from a more experienced source then the grandfatherly figure of Kenny Hooks is never far away to assist in whatever way he can. Chris Parker especially looked forward to the previous Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game as it saw him return to his Alma Mater where he certainly caused an upset with his astute coaching of the Royal School, Armagh team! The team is captained by Jack Treanor who has led by example throughout the season. Jack, alongside the experienced Nicholas Jennings and Zac Thompson, is one of the leading try scorers on the RS Armagh team. Zac Thompson is also the top points scorer who has had an outstanding season with his trusty boot. Matthew Reaney, as well as being a vital cog in the RS Armagh team, is Head Boy in the school. The performances of all these players against the Wallace High School team in the quarter-final game were exemplary. This Armagh team is a very competent team who play the game in a very positive way. They have scored a lot of tries in their games this season and added to that number in the course of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 4th Round game against Cambridge House Grammar School and the quarter-final game against Wallace High School. Ryan O’Neill and Nicholas Jennings were members of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 Inter-Provincial winning team earlier in the season. Nicolas would dearly love to emulate the success experienced by his father, John, who scored the winning try for the Royal School, Armagh team that won the Ulster Schools’ Cup in 1977. Jonny Agnew, Jude Roberts and Charlie Worth are involved with the U17 Schools’ Development group while Josh King has been involved at U16 Ulster level. Charlie Worth has become established as a very positive player, who can play in a number of different positions. The Belfast Inst defence will need to monitor all these players closely. The loss of the influential Benji Boyd to injury prior to the quarter-final did not impact as seriously as it might on the RS Armagh players due to the depth and adaptability of the talent that exists within the squad.
This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-final game is will kick off at 2-30pm.