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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 4th Round previews

Friday, 8 February 2013

Down High School will have taken a lot of confidence from their 3rd Round Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup victory at Foyle and Londonderry College. They will need to maintain this confidence as they prepare to host a very talented Ballyclare High School team on Saturday. The Down High School team has seen a lot of injured players return to action in time for their Schools’ Cup campaign and it was one of these players, Thomas Donnan, who laid the foundations for their success against Foyle College with his performance. Thomas brings Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ representative experience to his team as does Kelvin Hamilton, who has represented Ulster at U19 level. Ricky Gill, Patrick Wright and Luca Rea are talented players in the Down High School back division and they will be hoping the strong running Ryan Smith will have recovered from injury for this game. If he has, The Ballyclare High School defence will have to be aware of the attacking prowess Ryan can bring to a game. Callum Kerr will captain the Down High School team and team coaches, John Gunson and Charlie Knox, will hope he will be able to galvanise his players to record another victory in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

The Ballyclare High School team started the season slowly having lost a number of players to injury and representative games. However, a lot of their squad played in the Schools’ Cup final last season and got a taste of the special atmosphere a trip to Ravenhill can bring. They are determined to go one better this season. Dan Soper and Gareth Shaw coach the Ballyclare High School team. Both men know they have a very talented group of players at their disposal. Jonny Darling, the Ballyclare High School captain, is an abrasive and very hard working player who has gained representative honours with the Ulster U19 team. He has led his team well and gets good support from fellow representative players such as James Beattie and Paddy Reid. Paddy is a prop forward who has developed a penchant for scoring tries. There are four sets of brothers in the Ballyclare High School squad. Paddy Reid has his brother Harry beside him in the front row, Jonny Darling could combine with his brother, Matthew, in the backrow while Patrick and Matthew Mooney will be hoping to feature in the game. Twins Eddie and James McKee have pace to burn and could appear together in the Ballyclare High School back division. There is always the possibility of a shock defeat in any Cup match but the feeling is the Ballyclare High School squad has too much experience with eleven of their squad having featured in the final last season. This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

The Campbell College home clash with Methodist College brings together two of the most successful teams in the history of the Ulster Schools’ Cup competition. This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 4th Round game has whetted the appetites of everyone associated with the game of Schools’ Rugby in Ulster and further afield. The Campbell College team features a host of talented players. They lost narrowly to their rivals from Methodist College earlier in the season but, since that game, have gone on to record some impressive victories. Conor McIlmurray has played for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team as have Josh Fullerton and Jack Owens. Both Josh and Jack featured in a recent Irish Schools’ squad that recorded a victory against the Ireland Clubs’ U18 team. Jon-Joe Rogers in the Campbell College pack is a son of former Bangor RFC and Ulster 2nd Row, John. He plays a similar style of game with a great desire to win. Harry Howard, son of the famous Trevor Howard, is a very hard working winger with a good eye for the line. He played for the Ulster U19 team and was joined by his Campbell College captain, Rob Haldane, on that team. Rob is a very talented player who is equally at home playing at outhalf or in the centre. Rob has been involved in two Ireland U19 Camps. The Campbell College coaches, Brian Robinson and Gareth Fry, will be hoping to have a fully fit Rob available for the game. If they do have Rob available, it will give the Campbell College squad a great boost leading up to the game.

The Methodist College team are current holders of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They are in no mood to loosen their grip on the prestigious trophy. They have had a successful season recording some impressive results against schools from Ulster as well as further afield. Like their Campbell College counterparts, many Methodist College players picked up representative honours earlier in the season. Michael Lagan, Alex Thompson, James Gallagher, Connor Kelly and Rudi Benade were all involved with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad. Ross Kane, Mark Campbell and Paddy Colhoun trained with the Ulster U19’s with Ross progressing to the Ireland U19 set-up. Paddy and Alex Thompson have recovered from recently from injuries and team coach, Nicky Wells, who is assisted by Stephen Lindsay, will be delighted to have these players available for this game. This game has all the makings of being a classic Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounter. Both teams are capable of winning quality possession from both set piece and phase play. Both teams have quality players in key positions and players with an abundance of pace. The Methodist College team hold the trophy. The Campbell College team have a great desire to get it back. A lot could be down to who best handles the electrifying experience this game will provide. This Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Dalriada School host Limavady Grammar School at the St James’s Road venue confident they can progress to the Quarter-Final stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Ballymoney boys had to dig deep to come away from Grosvenor Grammar School with a victory in their 3rd Round encounter. That win will have given them great confidence as they prepare to host the talented Limavady Grammar School team. Captain,Timmy Emerson, alongside Ryan Malcolmson, Andy McWilliams and Timmy Woods all worked hard in that game causing problems for the Grosvenor team and combining to score points for the Dalriada team. Dalriada coach, David Docherty, was delighted with the positive approach his players adopted even when they were points down in that game. He was delighted that the Ballymoney boys stuck true to their attacking principles and ended up by scoring a fine try to win the game. He was delighted the way his players defended their line in the closing stages of the game. David will look for more of the same on Saturday.

The Limavady Grammar School team has had an excellent season in terms of results so far. The squad started the season with an all-conquering tour of South Africa where they defeated teams from some of the strongest schools in the Rainbow Nation. They came back to see Rory Squires pick up representative honours with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team and players such as Michael Barr, Richard Boyd, Sam Mackey, Colt Callaghan, Jamie W Millar, Scott McClean and Jack McCool making it onto RDS squads. Head coach, Stephen Barr, will be looking for a step-up in performance from their last game in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The team travelled to Friends’ School and came away with a win, but, a less than satisfactory win. It was felt the performance of the team was somewhat rusty in that game. The young Friends’ School team matched them in most aspects of the game. Team captain, Jamie P Millar has some eighteen of last year’s Schools’ Cup squad available again this year. These players, as well as their coaches, would have realistic notions of featuring in at least a Schools’ Cup semi-final. On the evidence of their game against Friends’ School, they won’t. If the Limavady Grammar School team is not prepared to work hard for a full seventy minutes the Dalriada team will take full advantage. There could be a shock on the cards at the end of this game which is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

Ballymena Academy host Wallace High School in a game that sees the two teams meet each other for the third time this season. Both teams have had serious injury problems with which to contend and the outcome of this game could depend on which team can cope better without their injured players. The Wallace High School team won both the previous encounters but that can count for very little when it comes to Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup time. The Ballymena Academy coaching staff, John Andrews and Gavin Murray, will have concerns regarding the availability of players such as Vice-Captain, Calvin Kernohan. Calvin, along with the flying machine that is Thomas Gaston, bring representative experience to the team. Both played for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team earlier in the season. It will be a major boost for the Ballymena team if Calvin makes it. There are quality players in key positions on the Ballymena team. Josh McIlroy, an U17 Shot Putt champion, has created a real impression with his displays in the backrow. He forms a good partnership with Duncan Maguire who has very good ball carrying ability. Adam Kirk is a fine scrummager who can cause problems for the opposition at scrum time if he is prepared to work hard for the duration of the game. Oliver Simpson and Brian Mulholland form a clever half back partnership with Oliver always keen to display the skills involved in his famous “Marblehill” move! Andrew Magrath has been deadly accurate with his boot all season. The Wallace High School players would be silly to give away any needless penalties.

The Wallace High School team has done remarkably well in the course of the season taking into account their horrendous injury list. They will prepare for this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game with most, but not all, of their injury list back in action. Earlier in the season players such as James McCallan, Aaron Gilkinson and Zack McCall gained representative honours with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad. Peter Weir, Jordan Grattan and team captain, Cal McIlwaine, trained with the Ulster U19 squad. Peter and Jordan were capped at that level with Jordan going on to be involved in two Ireland U19 camps. Nine Wallace players were involved with the team that reached the semi-final stage last season while emerging players such as Ryan Moore, Ryan Brannagh, Ben Pentland, Jacob Stockdale, Conor Guiney and Max Trouton have adapted well to the demands of Senior Schools’ Rugby. Wallace High School, having won twice this season against Ballymena Academy, could see themselves as favourites. However, the team coaches, Derek Suffern, Ian Latham and Neil Hinds, have been around for too long not to warn their players they must take nothing for granted if they are to get the required result from this game. The match is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

Royal School, Armagh will play Coleraine Academical Institution at the College Hill venue in a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 4th Round game where the RS Armagh team will be seen as clear favourites. They defeated their opposition away from home in a recent game and had a tremendous 63-3 victory over the Omagh Academy team that ran the Coleraine AI team so close in the 3rd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. Michael Hoey captains the RS Armagh team and he has the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 captain, Darryl Morton, playing alongside him. Michael, along withthe Wright twins, Alistair and Conor, were involved with the Ulster U19 set-up during last summer and this experience proved to be valuable in terms of their development as players. Team coach, the redoubtable Kenny Hooks, assisted by the evergreen Dave Eakin and youthful Gareth Beggs, knows that, on their day, the RS Armagh squad can prove a handful for any opposition. Their pre-season tour to Canada laid the foundations for a very strong internal bond the squad has. They play for each other for the duration of the game and the word, defeat, does not enter their vocabulary easily. The work ethic of players such as John McDonagh, John Dunne, Toby McAlpine, Mervyn Brown and the emerging talents of Kyle Faloon are seen as vital for the continued success of the RS Armagh squad. The Coleraine AI team will have a job on their hands.

The Coleraine AI team had to dig deep to come out of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round encounter against Omagh Academy with a narrow 18-14 win. They were without the talents of their 2nd Row forward, Thomas Pethwick, in that game and will hope to have him back for the journey to Armagh. Mark Gordon and Nick Logan in the Coleraine AI backrow are key players for the Coleraine AI team. Coach, Richard Beggs, relies on these two players to do the work at the breakdown and ensure a supply of quality phase possession. This will be needed if the Coleraine AI half backs, Peter Kidd and the very talented Conor Shiels, are to have any influence on the game, Outside these two players, there are talented performers such as Bradley Dempster at full back and Peter Acheson on the wing. These players will ask questions of any defence if they are given any space in which to run. The Coleraine AI prop, Danny McAllister, is a talented performer in the set piece. Danny has also the ability to run in tries and the RS Armagh team will have to monitor him closely. If the Coleraine AI team can find any space on the tricky RS Armagh pitch they will cause concerns in the RS Armagh camp. This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

Belfast Royal Academy came through their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round encounter against a very spirited Carrickfergus Grammar School team with a clear 41-6 victory. They now host Sullivan Upper and the Sullivan staff present at the Carrickfergus game will have been impressed with some of the Belfast Royal Academy players. None more so that the hard working Daniel Dass who, along with his backrow colleague, Stewart Martin, brings Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 representative experience to the team. Adam Brice is the third member of the BRA backrow triumvirate and together, they form a vital cog of the Academy team. Daniel McFadden is an impressive prop who brings very accurate place kicking duties to the team. His 2nd Row is made up by the twin brothers, Christopher and Jonathan Torrens. They ensure a good supply of quality lineout possession and do their fair share of carrying as well. Jordan Carlisle has adjusted successfully to life in the outhalf position and he has a keen eye for a gap as well as good distribution and kicking skills. In the centre, team captain, Mark Wylie is well supported by Sam Lindsay. David Campbell and Jordan Hylton display an abundance of pace on the wings while Stephen Craig will bring a degree of security if he is declared fit to play at fullback. The Belfast Royal Academy coach, Chris McCarey, knows his team will enter the fray as underdogs but he will not be disappointed by that. Along with his assistant coach, David Creighton, Chris will ensure his team will give off their best on the day.

The Sullivan Upper coaching staff of Mike Rodgers, Adam Craig and Manager, Stephen Finlay, have had the advantage of bringing the vast wealth of knowledge and expertise of Willie Anderson on board in a coaching capacity as they prepare for their first Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounter of the season when they travel to Roughfort. The Sullivan Upper team is a very young team with only two final year students in the squad. The two players are Chris Griffiths and Scott Finlay. Both bring Ulster Age-Grade representative experience to the team having been involved with the Danske Ulster Bank U18 team and the Ulster U19 team. The team captain is Ross Todd, who lifted the Medallion Shield two seasons ago. Ross, with another year to go at school, would love dearly to be the first Sullivan Upper captain to lift the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The Sullivan squad has had a successful season winning 16 of their 21 matches and losing only 2. Charlie Burrows and Mark Adair, who has gained big game experience as an International cricketer, form an effective half back pairing. They work closely with their backrow colleagues, Dave Cave and Ross Todd. Quick ball will bring players such as Zac Burtenshaw, Michael Cartmill and Angus McCartney into the game. Josh Davidson will have a critical role to play in countering the effectiveness of the opposition lineout. This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

The Regent House team has had the experience of coming through two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup matches. Their win in the 3rd Round game against Rainey Endowed will stand them in good stead as they prepare to host the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team at the Circular Road venue. The Regent House coaching staff of Eric Sinnamon and Peter Lowry will realise that confidence is high in the squad especially after coming through as underdogs against the Rainey Endowed team in their last game. They will also realise that it will take a tremendous effort against one of the favoured teams for the competition if they are to replicate that success. Aaron Culbert and Aaron Reid, the Regent House centres got through a lot of work in both attack and defence in the previous game. They have developed a great understanding with their talented outhalf, Peter Eakin. Peter, and his scrum half partner, the Regent captain, Gary Wright, managed the game against Rainey in a very astute manner. Rhys Thompson finished his try against the Rainey team in fine style. Up front, the Regent team has talented players such as Matty Kane, Blair Savage and Jared Purvis to call upon. Openside flanker, Jonny Baird, was a big influence in the course of that game. These players will have to do it all again against the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team if they are to make further progress in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

The Royal Belfast Academical Institution team coaching staff of Richard Hedley and Gavin Monteith will be delighted if they get their first choice team onto the pitch for this 4th Round Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup encounter. If they do, it will be only the second time this season the full team has played. Representative calls up during September, alongside an extensive injury list, have ensured a slow start to the season. However, since October results have improved. Josh Atkinson, the Belfast Inst captain, played with the Ulster U19 team along with his backrow colleague, Paddy Anderson. Josh has been involved with the Ireland U19 squad and Paddy has been close to it. Nathan Browne, John McClure, Rory Bell and Rory Campbell bring skill and pace to the Belfast Inst back division as well as the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad. Andrew McGrath is a very hard working flanker who dovetails well with his fellow representative players in the Inst break away trio. There is a touch of the clear favourites travelling to play the rank outsiders in this game which is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Bangor Grammar School will be delighted to be at home against the ever improving Belfast High School team. The Bangor boys travelled to Portadown College in the 3rd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They worked hard for their 20-3 win. During that game Max Montgomery and Andrew Shaw, both Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 players, worked hard in the Bangor Grammar School backrow. Matthew Stockton, the third member of the Bangor backrow, impressed also with his determination to succeed. James Leary and Michael Blair impressed with their ability in the scrums while Peter Eves and Matthew Hamilton were keen to keep their forwards on the front foot. The Bangor Grammar School coaching team of David Graham and Jason Morgan will be keen to impress on their players they should take nothing for granted. Home advantage can mean a lot but there is still work to be done if the Bangor Grammar School name is to be in the draw for the next round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

The Belfast High School team has played and survived three tough encounters in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They were behind against Banbridge Academy in the 2nd Round before emerging as convincing winners. Their first 3rd Round encounter at Royal School, Dungannon, saw the Belfast High School team snatch a draw out of the jaws of defeat by scoring an unconverted try with the last play of the game. They displayed some of the best form they have showed this season with a convincing win in the replay. They are a very young squad who have kept their success this season understated. Lewis Benson is the cornerstone of a very useful pack, especially at lineout time. He gets great support from fellow forwards such as team captain, Tom McConkey, Robbie Reid and Conor McDermott. The High School backs are a credit to team coach, Michael Rainey. He has moulded them into a very efficient unit and in Jordan Garford, he has developed a player who has featured for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team. Jordan is joined in the centre by Adam White and these two are joined by Joel McBride to form a very effective midfield trio. Kristian Bell and Matthew Connolly are two wingers who have been running in tries all season.

The Belfast High School team will wish to travel as underdogs but no one will be surprised if they emerge from this game as winners. The match is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

There are four Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Bowl Quarter-Final games scheduled for Saturday 9th February.

Carrickfergus Grammar School                   v                      Foyle and Londonderry College

Grosvenor Grammar School                         v                      Omagh Academy

Friends’ School, Lisburn                               v                      Portadown College

Rainey Endowed School                                v                      Royal School, Dungannon

There are two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy Semi-Final games scheduled for Saturday 9th February.

Banbridge Academy                                      v                      Wellington College

Lurgan College                                               v                      Portora Royal School.

The draws for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup and Subsidiary Shield Quarter-Final games as well as the Bowl Semi-Final games will take place in the Boardroom at Campbell College on Saturday 9th February. The draws are scheduled to take place at 12-45pm.