Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round Up Saturday 7th March 2015
Monday, 9 March 2015
There were two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-finals, the Danske Bank Ulster
Schools’ Bowl final as well as Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup, Plate and 3rdxv
Plate matches played midweek in the lead up to the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’
Subsidiary Shield semi-finals played on Saturday 7th March.
In the first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-finals, it was an historic
occasion when the Coleraine Academical Institution team played the Royal Belfast
Academical Institution team at the Kingspan Stadium. This would be the last time the
two “Institution” teams would meet in an Ulster Schools’ Cup match as the Coleraine
Academical Institution is due to amalgamate with Coleraine High School to form
Coleraine Grammar School in September 2015.
Callum McLaughlin scored the decisive try as Royal Belfast Academical Institution
defeated Coleraine Academical Institution 10-6 in the first of this season’s Danske
Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup semi-finals at Kingspan Stadium. The result means RBAI now
await the winner of the second semi-final which will be contested between Methodist
College and Wallace High School on Thursday.
It was Coleraine who took the lead, somewhat against the run of play, when outhalf
Callum Smith landed a penalty from 40 metres out following a Belfast Inst indiscretion
at the breakdown. The RBAI backs looked dangerous when in possession but too often
the ball was spilled under little or no pressure, much to the frustration of Head Coach
Dan Soper and his assistant, Richard Hedley. They were enjoying plenty of the ball,
with forwards John Dickson and Mark Mairs particularly prominent in the loose and
their dominance was eventually rewarded with a penalty from scrumhalf TJ Morris,
bringing the scores level at 3-3. The Belfast boys continued to dictate play for the
remainder of the first half but were unable to find a breakthrough and the score
stayed at 3-3 until the interval.
Conditions worsened after the break with a band of rain joining the already strong
winds at Kingspan Stadium, limiting the number of clear cut chances created by both
teams. The game then sprung into life around the 50 minute mark with the Coleraine
forwards punching holes in the opposition defence. However, the Royal Belfast
Academical Institution team showed their clinical edge when their openside flanker,
Ethan Harbinson, won an excellent turnover inside his own half. TJ Morris and his
impressive half back partner, Michael Lowry, combined to send outside centre
McLaughlin racing clear to touch down for a try. TJ Morris converted the try to push
his side into a 10-3 lead. Callum Smith then cut the lead to just four points with his
second penalty of the afternoon and that led to a period of sustained pressure for his
Coleraine AI side. They forced a penalty straight in front of the Belfast Inst posts but
they spurned the kick at goal in favour of the touchline. A succession of phases
followed but they could not capitalise on this constant source of possession. Eventually,
they were bundled into touch five metres out and the Belfast Inst team was able to
clear the danger. Coleraine showed plenty of fight in the closing stages as they went in
search of a winning score but the RBAI defence, ably marshalled by their captain,
Lewis McNamara, held firm and that secured a 10-6 win and, with it, a place in the final
of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
The Dansle Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl final took place at Eaton Park, home of Ballymena
RFC, on Wednesday 4th March. A large crowd of spectators turned up to watch Dalriada
and Rainey Endowed School put on a tremendous display of running rugby in a game the
Dalriada School team won by 31-15. The Rainey Endowed team lost the services of their
captain, Calvin Smyth, as well as their vice-captain, Rory Nicholl, prior to the game.
However, the players brought in as replacements played a full role in a most
The Dalriada School team set their intentions out directly from the kick off. They took
play deep into Rainey territory and their impressive captain, winger Michael Finnerty,
ran in for the first of his three tries after just a couple of minutes. The Dalriada pack
provided the quality possession which enabled Angus Johnston to create the space for
Michael to touch down for a try. Aaron Sparks was successful with the conversion to
put the Ballymoney boys into a 7-0 lead. Ten minutes later it was a similar when Angus
Johnston, once again, was the architect for the attack which created the space for
Michael Finnerty to score his second try of the game. Aaron Sparks converted the try
and Dalriada now had a 14-0 lead. The Rainey Endowed team recovered from these
early scores and with players such as Anton Lupari, Neal Hastings and Timothy Shiels
managing to get their hands on some possession, they took the game to the Dalriada
team. Scott Campbell, Mark Rooney and Andrew Nicholl combined to put Lorcan Quinn
in for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the Rainey team had reduced
the arrears to 14-5. However, it was the Dalriada team that finished the stronger of
the teams at the end of the first half. Matthew Kernohan emerged from the bottom of
a driven maul to touch down for a try just before the break. The conversion attempt
was unsuccessful but the Dalriada team now had a 19-5 lead at the break.
The Rainey Endowed School, team started the second half strongly and, for a time, put
the Dalriada team on the back foot. Their pack produced some quick ball which the
backs used effectively. One flowing attack, five minutes after the restart, finished
with Andrew Nicholl scoring a try. The conversion was missed but the Rainey team had
reduced the deficit to 19-10. The game developed into a game of “nip and tuck” for a
time with both defences cancelling each other out. That was until midway through the
second half when the Dalriada flanker, Alan Montgomery, took a quick penalty. He went
on a rampaging run before off-loading to his fellow flanker, Matthew Christie. Matthew
made no mistake and finished with a try, which was converted by Aaron Sparks, to put
the Dalriada team into a 26-10 lead. This lead was extended to 31-10 when Michael
Finnerty completed his hat trick when he outpaced the Rainey defence and touched
down for an unconverted try. The Rainey Endowed team never gave up and got some
reward for their endeavours when Scott Campbell ran in for an unconverted try with
the final play of the game. The no-side whistle sounded and it was the Dalriada School
team that celebrated their well-deserved 31-15 victory.
Following the game John Kinnear, President of the Ulster Branch, IRFU, and Vicki
Hassan, representing the Danske Bank sponsors, presented the runners-up medals to a
gallant Rainey Endowed School team and the winner’s medals and the Danske Bank
Ulster Schools’ Bowl to the victorious Dalriada School team.
Both teams would like to thank the Ballymena Rugby Club for the provision of facilities
and hosting the game on a superb playing surface.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup replay, Ballymena Academy travelled to
Campbell College and won a closely contested game by 8-5. In another Danske Bank
Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup match, Dromore High School hosted Royal Belfast
Academical Institution. The Dromore High School team put on a spirited performance
before losing the game by 32-12.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate, Friends’ School, Lisburn travelled to
play Belfast High School and returned victorious having recorded a 23-20 win.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Plate Royal School, Armagh recorded a 46-19
win against Campbell College 4thxv while Belfast Royal Academy lost by 14-12 against
Coleraine Academical Institution in the same competition. The Coleraine AI team had
Campbell Rodgers and Ryan welsh to thank for scoring their tries with Mark Welsh
adding both conversions to secure the win.
In the second semi-final of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup, Methodist College and
Wallace High School played out a closely fought encounter, in front of a great crowd of
supporters, at the Kingspan Stadium. The Wallace High School team won the game by
12-10 with the winning score coming late in the game.
The result brings to an end Methody’s run of three consecutive Danske Bank Ulster
Schools’ Cup titles and means Wallace will play Royal Belfast Academical Institution in
the final on St. Patrick’s Day. It will be a re-run of the 2003 and 2007 showpieces,
both of which were won by RBAI. The Wallace High School team was the better side in
the opening stages and had an opportunity to impact on the scoreboard when a Methody
player was penalised for hands in a ruck. However, Andrew Cardosi was unable to take
advantage from the tee. The Lisburn school did take the lead in the 10th minute after a
superbly executed set piece move. A solid scrum provided the platform and some
excellent decoy running allowed Neil Kilpatrick to burst through a gap in midfield. The
outhalf then fed dangerous fullback, Philip Hylands, who raced clear and beat his
opposite number, Robert Lyttle, to dot down under the posts. Andrew Cardosi had the
simple task of adding the extras to give the Wallace HS team a deserved 7-0 lead.
Methody responded with a try from their captain, Saul Herdman, who powered over
from close range following a driving maul by his fellow forwards. Robert Lyttle was off
target with the difficult conversion attempt but his side took the lead soon
afterwards. A string of phases gave scrumhalf, Johnny Jordan, space to throw a
floated pass to Conor Kelly and the winger finished well in the corner under pressure
from Conor Guiney. Robert Lyttle missed again, this time from the left touchline,
leaving the score at 10-7.
Wallace looked the more threatening team for the remainder of the first half but blew
a number of chances to convert pressure into further points. First, prop Jonathan
Blair, handed possession back to Methody with a knock on five metres out. Then
Andrew Cardosi spilled the ball after Jonny Stewart had made good ground with a
darting run from the base of a ruck. These errors ensured it was the Methodist College
team that turned around with their 10-7 lead intact at the break.
The opening exchanges of the second half were fairly even, with most of the action
being played out in the middle third of the pitch. Robert Lyttle made a searing break
from his own half but Philip Hylands came across to make a fine cover tackle to deny an
almost certain try.
The decisive moment of the match came on the hour mark when, on a rare visit to the
Methodist College “Red Zone”, slick hands by the Wallace backline enabled Gary Chan
to put Ben Finlay into space. Ben held off the challenge of Robert Lyttle to dive over
for a try in the left hand corner of the Kingspan Stadium. The conversion attempt was
unsuccessful but the Wallace High School team had taken a 12-10 lead with just
minutes of the game remaining.
Robert Lyttle had a late chance to win the game with a penalty from 40 metres out but
his effort fell just short. Much to the relief of the entire Wallace High School team,
coaches and supporters Jonny Stewart kicked the ball out. That was the last action as
the final whistle sounded, leading to wild celebrations among the Wallace players and
supporters. They can now look forward to a first Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup final
appearance since 2007 and, with it, an opportunity to become the first Ulster Schools’
Cup winning side from Wallace High School.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Plate competition St Columb’s College
defeated Dalriada by 22-5.
There were two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield semi-finals as well as a
number of Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup, 2ndxv Plate and 3rdxv Cup games
played on Saturday 7th March.
Ballymena Academy travelled to play Portora Royal School in the Danske Bank Ulster
Schools’ Subsidiary Shield semi-final and came away with a resounding 34-0 victory. It
was the Ballymena Academy pack, with Alexander Clarke, Josh Bill, Joe Thompson,
Marcus Rea and Jonny McKeown all in outstanding form, which laid the foundations for
the victory. The blustery wind and difficult underfoot conditions at the Co. Fermanagh
venue meant that both teams knew they would have to work hard to dominate territory
and possession. Ballymena opened the scoring with an outstanding team try. From a
scrum on the halfway line, the Ballymena backs found space out wide and, following
several carries and off-loads from Craig Hanna, Joe Thompson and Alexander Clarke,
Marcus Rea powered over for the score. Andrew Magrath was successful with the
conversion to give his team a 7-0 lead. Midway through the first half, Ballymena
doubled their lead when Josh Bill broke free from a maul to score in the corner.
Andrew Magrath’s touchline conversion was judged perfectly to take the score to 14-0.
Andrew was successful with a penalty attempt just before half-time to give Ballymena
a 17-0 lead at the interval.
Portora started the second half strongly but an excellent turnover from Josh McIlroy
saw Ballymena move the ball wide. This flowing move finished with Dean Reynolds
touching down for an unconverted try in the corner. At 22-0, with Andrew Magrath
and Michael Stronge dictating the pace of the match with their strong kicking games,
the Ballymena pack began to tighten their control. Following another well-executed
lineout, the Ballymena Academy maul was unstoppable as Josh Bill was on hand to
provide the finishing touches. Ten minutes later, in a carbon copy of the previous try,
Josh Bill again touched down for his third try of the morning. Andrew Magrath
converted to increase the lead to 34-0. With twenty minutes to go, Ballymena Academy
emptied their bench and several younger members of the squad enjoyed an extended
run in a competitive game which finished with the Ballymena Academy team as reserved
The second Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Subsidiary Shield semi-final took place in
Newtownards where Regent House hosted Down High School. The Down High School
team had to work hard before emerging as 19-8 winners. The start of the game saw
both packs take each other on with the Regent team dominant at scrum time and Down
High School shading play at lineout time. The Regent House team took an early 3-0 lead
when Taylor Nutt was successful with a penalty kick opportunity.
During the following ten minute period Down High retained possession well and mounted
several promising attacks but they could find no way through a resolute home defence.
That was until midway through the first half when Rory Kerr, on the back of some
excellent Down High School phase play, showed excellent pace to expose a gap in the
home defence and run in for the try. Jo Bingham read the wind to perfection when he
added the difficult conversion to give his team a 7-3 lead. The remainder of the half
saw both sides having opportunities to extend their tally of points. Regent had a
penalty attempt drift wide and Down High showed some excellent open play decision
making that allowed Luke Sandford to run in from his own half. Unfortunately the final
pass was forward and the opportunity was lost ensuring that Down High School took
their 7-3 lead into the interval.
Down High took seven minutes of the second half to extend their lead. They clearly
appreciated the assistance of the wind to get into Regent territory and their first
score of the half came from Luke Sandford who ran a great line off a backline set
piece move to touch down under the posts. Joe Bingham added the extras to put his
team into a 14-3 lead. Midway through the second half, Ross Carlisle showed some great
footwork to slip through the Regent House defence and cross the whitewash for a try.
Uncharacteristically, the conversion drifted wide but the Down High School team now
had a 19-3 lead. The Regent House team displayed great commitment throughout the
game and got some reward for their endeavours when the impressive Kyle van Gleison
took advantage of some great work from his pack to rumble over the Down High School
line for a try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful which ensured the game
finished with the Down High School team as 19-8 winners.
Ballymena Academy will play Down High School in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’
Subsidiary Shield final on Thursday 19th March at the Kingspan Stadium. This game is
scheduled to kick off at 2-30pm.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Cup competition Methodist College, Belfast
defeated Sullivan Upper School by 58-3.
In the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2ndxv Plate competition Grosvenor Grammar School
travelled to play Carrickfergus Grammar School. The Grosvenor Grammar School team
scored seventeen points in the final quarter of the game which secured their 25-8 win.
In the first of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rdxv Cup semi-finals Royal Belfast
Academical Institution 3rdxv defeated Methodist College 4th xv by 37-19.
Omagh Academy and Limavady Grammar School played out a couple of U17 fixtures
looking towards next season. These games proved to be of great value to both squads
with the Omagh teams emerging as winners of both games. The “A” team won by 36-0
with the “B” team winning by 29-10.
The Omagh Academy “A” team had Andy Newell, Matthew Clyde, Gary McIlwaine,
Fintan Lagan and Kyle Beattie to thank for scoring the points. Meanwhile, the “B” team
points came from Taine Lagan, Caine Johnston and Finn Small with Taine scoring a hat
trick of tries.
The Omagh Academy U14 team recorded a 31-0 win against their Limavady Grammar
School counterparts. The Omagh try scorers were Phillip Rainey, Michael Marechaux,
Neil Hemphill, Peter McKelvey and Ryan Armstrong. Will Stewart added three
In a sixteen team U14 Tournament hosted by Royal Belfast Academical Institution at
Osborne Park Methodist College defeated the RBAI team by 3-0 in the final.
The Friends’ School U13 and U14 teams travelled to Cumbria where they played the
Austin St Monica’s School in Carlisle. The U13 team, inspired by an outstanding
performance from Rhys Malone, won their game by 81-7. The Friends’ School U14 team
found themselves trailing their hosts by 25-0, at one stage of the game, before
mounting a great comeback and winning the game by 33-32.