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Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 3 Previews February 2014.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

There are eight Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round 3 games scheduled to be played on Saturday 8th February.

The Rainey Endowed School team put on a very good performance when they defeated Belfast Royal Academy in their 2nd Round encounter. Their star performer, on the day, was back row forward, Eunan Shaw. Eunan not only ran in two tries during the game but also got through a lot of work, in both attack and defence. He will realise that himself, and his team mates, will need to step up another gear when they entertain a very well organised Down High School team in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round game. Kieran Lynch, Anton Lupari, Scott Campbell, Conal Murphy and Eunan Shaw will be central to the performance of the Rainey Endowed School team in the course of this eagerly anticipated encounter. There will be a large group of enthusiastic Rainey Endowed supporters in attendance on the touchlines. They will be hoping for another competent Rainey Endowed Schools’ Cup performance. If they get it, and the players step up to the mark, there should be a place for them in the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

It was the Down High School pack that laid the foundations for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 victory against a determined Lurgan College team. The Down High School team will be delighted to have successfully come through that encounter. They are a well-organised team and one which will have taken a lot of confidence from their 2nd Round result. It was a confident and mature performance against Lurgan College and one that was played in horrendous weather conditions. Thomas McCavera, Nathan Gibson, Thomas Johnston and team captain, Darren Cheung, all played leading roles in the Down High School pack. However, it was the performance of Thomas Donnan, playing in the backrow, which really caught the eye. The Rainey Endowed School pack will have to front up. The Down High School team has a number of very talented players in their back line and players who, despite the difficult conditions against Lurgan, were prepared to attack with the ball in hand. Ricky Gill, Joseph Bingham, Ryan Smyth and Patrick Wright are players who will take advantage of any defensive lapses in the Rainey Endowed defence. These players will need to be monitored closely throughout the game.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

Methodist College, Belfast will be expected to come successfully through their potentially tricky encounter, at home to Limavady Grammar School, in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round encounter. This Methodist College team is seen by many observers as clear favourites to win the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup for the third season in a row. However, coach Nick Wells, who is assisted by Stephen Lindsay, will take nothing for granted as they prepare for this fixture. Captained by Ireland U19’s prop, Michael Lagan, the Methodist College team can call on a number of players, all of whom have picked up a range of Ulster and Ireland Age Grade honours. Joining Michael on the Ireland U19 team were Steven Weir, Alex Thompson, Josh Bingham and Conor McKee. Connor Kelly played for an Ireland Schools’ U18 team at Christmas while Connall Boomer and Matthew McKinney have gained Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 honours. Ross McAllister was involved with the successful Ulster U19 team earlier in the season and Saul Herdman captained a very talented Ulster Schools’ U18 Development team. Nine of the squad were involved in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup winning squad last season and all of the squad will be determined to achieve the “Three in a Row” this season.

The Limavady Grammar School team will realise they did not really do themselves justice in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round encounter against Foyle and Londonderry College. The game was played in very difficult conditions which, possibly, inhibited the potential attacking flair of the Limavady Grammar School team. The majority of the Limavady Grammar School squad experienced the excitement of running out at Ravenhill three seasons ago when they played in a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield Final. They lost on that occasion but the players concerned would love the opportunity of another appearance at “HQ”. They will be well aware if that is going to happen they have to overcome the strongest team currently playing rugby in Ulster Schools. They will look to their experienced players to step up in terms of performance against Methody.  They have beaten some “big names” this season and lost narrowly to others. Coaches, Stephen Barr, assisted by Chris Nash and Sam Vallelly, will see the performance of the Limavady Grammar School forwards as key to the outcome of this game. Sam Mackey, Brendan Ferguson, Richard Boyd and Stephen Fallows are key forwards in the Limavady Grammar School squad. Rory Squires brings representative experience to the squad and these players will be vital if the Limavady Grammar School team is too progress. If they can provide a sufficient quantity of quality possession for their backline, then it could be an interesting encounter. Scott McLean will punish any Methody indiscretions while the team captain, Michael Barr and his midfield partner, Jamie Millar, will be keen to ask questions of the Methody midfield defence. There is a lot of Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup experience in the Limavady Grammar School team. Seventeen of the squad was involved last season in a squad that reached the Quarter-Final stage of the competition. They will have to work really hard if they are to reach the Quarter-Final stage this season.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Coleraine Academical Institution will be delighted to be at home against Regent House in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 3rd Round game. The Coleraine AI team travelled to Banbridge Academy in the 2nd Round and found it difficult to grind out a narrow victory from that game. They can justifiably be seen as one of the “Dark Horses” for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. They have achieved some very impressive results this season, including a big win against Regent House in September. They will expect to be seen as clear favourites to win this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game against Regent House. Coach, Richard Beggs, will see his captain, Conor Shiels, as being one of the key players in his team. Conor brings creativity to a very talented Coleraine AI midfield, a midfield that includes Callum Smith and Mark Gordon. They will expect their pack, with Daniel McAllister, Thomas Pethwick, Joel Stanbridge and Ollie McDowell to the fore, to provide a good supply of quality possession so that the talented Coleraine AI backline can take the game to Regent House. If they get that supply of ball, the Regent House defence will have to be well-organised and efficient in all they do. Any infringements by Regent close to the Coleraine AI line will be punished by Conor Shiels, a very talented player who is also first class place kicker.

The Regent House team will need to be at full strength if they are to progress any further in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup competition. They have recorded two narrow Schools’ Cup wins this season, against Wellington College and Portora Royal School. These wins will stand them in good stead and they will take a great deal of confidence from these victories. However, they will need to be at their very best in Coleraine. Jonny Harris, their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ 2nd Row forward, team captain, Matthew Johnston, prop, Tom Arthur Donnan and hooker, Rhys Thompson all performed well against Portora Royal. However, it was the performances of full back, Nathan Graham and fellow back, Lewis Loane that really caught the eye. Coach, Peter Lowry, will be hoping that all these players, and more, can produce even better performances if the Regent House team is to come away from Coleraine with any degree of success at the end of the game. They lost heavily against the Coleraine AI team earlier in the season. The Regent House team has improved a lot since that game and they will hope to avoid a similar outcome on Saturday.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

Belfast High School produced enough to come through their postponed game against Omagh Academy when the sides met in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game. The High School team won that game by 13-5 but their coaching team, Michael Rainey and David Scott, will realise their talented group of players will have to dig deep if they are to achieve a winning result against an ever improving Wallace High School team. The Belfast High School team will take a great deal of confidence from their victory against Omagh Academy and that victory will help in preparing the squad for the forthcoming encounter against the Wallace High School team. Captain, Lewis Benson, is aware of the fact his team can be rightly seen as another “Dark Horse” team in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup competition. He will want his players to do themselves justice in their encounter with Wallace High School. He can call upon his own representative experience as well as the Ulster Age Grade representative experience of players such as Jordan Garford, a hard running and skilful centre, Robbie Reid, Joel McBride and Conor McDermott. These players will have to take the initiative in the game from the kick off if the Belfast High School players are to fulfil their undoubted potential. Eighteen of the squad have been involved in Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup games in previous seasons. They know it will have to be a first class performance on Saturday if they are to take a place in the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

The Wallace High School team has experienced varying degrees of success in the course of the season, thus far. However, recent results, including a 28-26 win against St Mary’s College, Dublin would suggest they are starting to peak at just the right time. They had a number of players unavailable earlier in the season due to injury. However, it would appear that the Wallace High School coaches, Derek Suffern and Neil Hinds, will have a full squad from which to select for this game. Nine of their starting xv were involved last season and they have ten players available for this game, all of whom have picked up Age Grade Schools’ representative honours at Ulster U17 Development, Ulster U18 Development, Ulster U18 Schools’ and Ireland U18 Schools’ level. If the Wallace High School pack, with team captain, Callum Irvine, a vital member, can provide a sufficient quantity of quality possession, the Wallace High School backline has a talented group of players who can use the ball effectively. Jonny Stewart and Ryan Moore form a very effective half back partnership. Both these players display great footballing ability as well as top class game management skills. Ben Finlay is rapidly gaining a reputation as a very fine young centre while Andrew Cardosi loves nothing more than to get the ball in his hands. However, the real jewel in the crown is Jacob Stockdale. Jacob has the ability to play in a number of positions but, regardless of where he is selected to play, he will provide a definite threat to any opposition. He has scored tries for his Wallace High School team, The Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team and ran in a hat trick of tries for an Ireland Schools’ team in their Christmas game against an Ireland Clubs’ U18 team. These players will be central to the Wallace High School hopes of progressing further in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup competition.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am.

In recent seasons teams from Ballyclare High School have been involved in reaching the semi-final stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on quite a few occasions. The current squad of players will be determined to emulate the success of those teams in the course of the competition this season. However, they will know it is going to take a big performance against the Ballymena Academy team when the two sides meet in their eagerly anticipated Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 3 clash in Ballyclare on Saturday. The new coach at Ballyclare High School is Michael Orchin-McKeever. Michael gained a lot of Schools’ Cup experience when he was a pupil at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. Michael can call upon the services of the experienced Gareth Shaw, as his assistant. As a player, Gareth picked up his experience of the Ulster Schools’ Cup when he wore the jersey of Ballymena Academy, a number of years ago! It will be up to these coaches to guide what is a very young group of players through this tricky encounter. Team captain, Matthew Brolly, and Ulster U19 winger, James Beattie, played in the 2012 Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Final. Team member, Matthew Darling is a younger brother of last season’s Ballyclare High School captain, Jonny Darling. These players will be working hard for another run out at Ravenhill. Mattie McDowell has been a revelation with his play at outhalf in the coursed of the season. He was joined on an Ulster Schools’ U17 team by Jack Magee while Zack McMorran has caught the eyes of the Ulster Schools’ U16/17 Age Grade Management teams. The Ballyclare High School team put together a good run of results during November and December. They lost a number of games around the Christmas period but seem to be back on track again with some recent results going their way. They will have to at their best on Saturday if they are to progress to the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

The Ballymena Academy team has experienced a very mixed set of results so far this season. The team, coached by John Andrews, who is assisted by Gavin Murray, will be hoping for a positive run of results in the course of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. Their captain, Duncan Maguire, a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 team member, will not allow his players to underestimate the opposition .The coaches and players at Ballymena Academy will be delighted if they have their Ireland Schools’ U18 flanker, Josh McElroy, available for selection for this game. His availability would be a major boost for the squad. Jonathan McKeown has picked up Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 honours as has Andrew Magrath, a very talented place kicker. Marcus Rea has played U17 Ulster Schools’ Rugby and will be keen to emulate the success of his older brother, Matthew, who played on the Ballymena Academy team that experienced Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup success in 2010. Josh McNabey is in a similar situation as his brother, Sam, played on the same Ballymena Academy team in 2010. These players will have to bring their experience to bear in the game at Ballyclare High School. On their day, the Ballymena Academy backline can cause problems for any team in the Province. It will be up to the pack to provide the quality possession required if the Ballymena Academy team is to progress in the current Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-45am.

The Dalriada School team came through successfully against Portadown College in their 2nd Round Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game. On that occasion, it was the performance of the Dalriada captain, Timmy Emerson, which laid the foundations for the victory. He displayed the game management skills that saw him involved with the successful Ulster U19 team back in September. Timmy will require another big performance if his team is to have any chance of pulling off what you be a shock victory when the Royal Belfast Academical Institution team comes to town on Saturday. Timmy got great support from his very determined pack of forwards with players such as Matthew Christie, Scott Malcolmson, Alan Montgomery and Ryan Malcolmson getting through a lot of work in both attack and defence. Michael Finnerty, Gavin McCaughern and Peter Dunlop showed attacking flair in the game against Portadown College while Robert Hunter was always a threat in a game played in particularly difficult conditions. Team coach, David Dougherty, will be hoping for better weather conditions for the 3rd Round game. If he gets them, and Timmy Emerson is able to bring his talented back division into play on a more regular basis, it could be an interesting encounter.

Eleven players in the Royal Belfast Academical Institution squad have experienced the disappointment of defeat in the last Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Final. They will fancy their chances of making it through to another final but will not underestimate the Dalriada team when the teams meet on Saturday. On paper, the Belfast Inst team would appear to have too many talented players throughout their squad. Coach Dan Soper, as well as his assistant, Richard Hedley, has experienced the pain of defeat in recent Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Finals- Dan with Ballyclare High School and Richard with Belfast Inst! They would be delighted to get an opportunity to set the record straight this season. They have played eighteen games this season and have won fourteen of those games. Three of those defeats were against teams from outside the province! Robert Little and Harry Clelland played for the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18’s team while team captain, Rory Bell, Rory Campbell and vice-captain, Andrew Mc Grath were all involved with the Ulster U19 team. TJ Dickson and Josh Coyle have gained representative honours with Ulster Club U18 teams as well. Conor Field has scored a lot of tries for the Belfast Inst team and Frazer Wright has kicked a lot of points. All of these players will need to be monitored closely by the Dalriada School defence. There is enough experience in this Belfast Inst squad to ensure there should be no slip up in their attempt to get through to the next round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. However, they will realise it will require a big effort from the entire squad if they are to come away with the required result!

This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

The “Match of Day” will be played at Foxs’s Field when Campbell College host the Royal School, Armagh team in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round encounter. The Campbell College team seems to have hit a period of good form at just the right time. A recent 18-0 win against their opponents will put the Campbell College squad into the position of favourites to win this game. However, their coaching team of Brian Robinson, Gareth Fry and John McKinney, will ensure their young charges are fully aware of what will be required to win this game. They will need to display composure at all times and not take the opposition for granted. There are quite a few very talented players available for selection for the Campbell College team. Connor McIlmurray has had his talents recognised by the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Management team as well as those involved with the Ireland Schools’ team. He is joined in the Campbell College squad by his brother, Kieran. Elliott Boyd, Aaron Haigh, Jack Glendinning, Philip Wood, Cameron Stewart, Daniel Kealey and Jack Howard are other members of the Campbell College squad whose talents have been recognised by Ulster Schools’ U17 and U18 Management teams. However, in Jack Owens, the Campbell College team has got one of the most talented players currently involved in Ulster Schools’ Rugby. Jack, like Connor McIlmurray, is going into his third Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaigns. His talents have seen him play, in recent seasons, for Ulster and Ireland Schools’ teams as well as Ulster U20’s and the Ireland U19 team. He brings power, pace and panache to his team and the Royal School, Armagh team will be aware of his many talents.

The Royal School, Armagh coaching team of Kenny Hooks, Dave Eakin and Gareth Beggs has experienced many successes in recent seasons with the teams they have produced. They will travel to Campbell College with a confident squad of players. They will have learnt from their recent loss at the same venue and will hope to have a full squad available for this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 3rd Round clash. If they can get their full starting line up on the pitch, the will be hopeful of reversing the score from their recent game. The coaching staff is aware their season started slowly but a recent good run of winning results has put them into a very positive frame of mind. It all started with a successful pre-Christmas tour to Italy and this was followed with a series of good wins, including one against Methodist College. Their only setback, in recent games, was against Campbell College!! Team captain, Neil Lutton, knows he has the undoubted skills of players such as Philip Matthews, Robin Sinton, Josh Agnew and Jonathan Nelson to call upon. These players have been included in Ulster U16 and U17 Schools’ Development squads. In Mervyn Brown, the team has an ever-improving outhalf who forms a very useful combination with his centre, Matthew Hooks. The team was defeated at the semi-final stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup competition last season. They will be going all out to ensure they have the opportunity to right that wrong this season.

This game is scheduled to kick off at 11-00am.

The Bangor Grammar School team will play their first Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game at their new campus in Bangor. It seems entirely appropriate this game will be played against their near neighbours, and close rivals, from Sullivan Upper. The Bangor Grammar School team seemed to “flatter to deceive” somewhat with their narrow winning performance against Grosvenor Grammar School in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. The much vaunted Bangor Grammar School pack was, in the main, outplayed by the Grosvenor Grammar School pack. Team coach and Director of Rugby, Jason Morgan, who is assisted by former Sullivan Upper player, Phil Cartmill, will realise his pack of forwards will need to up their performance if they are to get anything from this game. Their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ hooker, Andrew Shaw will need to bring a great deal more to this game and his experienced fellow forwards, such as Elliott Boylan, Glenn Burton and Adam Brennan, will have to accept they have responsibilities in this regard as well. The Bangor Grammar School back line, where team captain, Phil Broderick, plays a central role, must ensure they make the best possible use of any possession entrusted to them. Shaun Fair, Will Logan and Ross McCloskey, an outstanding place kicker, need to be involved as much as possible if the Bangor Grammar School team is to put any pressure on their Sullivan Upper counterparts. The Bangor Grammar School team has experienced a mixed season in terms of results. A positive result against the Sullivan Upper team would give them a great deal of confidence for the rest of the season.

The make-up of the Sullivan Upper team, coached by Willie Anderson, who is assisted by Laurence Kerr, and managed by Stephen Finlay, is based on the team that won the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Medallion Shield three years ago. That successful team was captained by Ross Todd and, once again, it will be Ross, injury permitting, who will lead the Sullivan Upper team out against Bangor Grammar School when the teams meet in the 3rd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup. Ross has had his talents recognised by the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ team, as well as the Ulster U19 team, in recent seasons. He is not the only Sullivan Upper player to have had their talents recognised at Ulster Age Grade level. Some eleven other Sullivan Upper players have played for Ulster Schools’ U17’s, Ulster Schools’ U18’s and the Ulster U19’s teams. Ross was joined by Dave Cave, Josh Davidson, Michael Cartmill and David McMaster on the U19 team. Mark Adair, Peter Cooper, Zach Bertenshaw, James Houston and Angus McCartney all impressed with their performances on the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18’s team while Fergus Jemphrey and Callum Jeffrey played with the Schools’ U17’s team. With such a talented group of players from which to select, it is clear to see why many observers see the Sullivan Upper team as one with distinct Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup credentials. They have had a very successful season and took themselves of to Portugal for a recent warm weather training camp. This provided the opportunity for some quality coaching sessions as well as some team bonding exercises. The stage appears to be set for this talented Sullivan Upper squad. Will the Bangor Grammar School team be in a position to spoil the party?

This game is scheduled to kick off at 10-30am.