Two Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 games are scheduled to take place on Saturday, with Antrim Grammar School’s tie with Carrickfergus Grammar whetting the appetite in particular.
Antrim Grammar has a new coaching structure, with Head Coach, Jamie Orr, assisted by Michael Duncan, who also looks after the S&C preparation of the squad.
The team is captained by the talented Callum Hull - a player who leads his team by example. Callum has been involved with Ulster Age Grade squads in recent seasons and his experience will be vital.
He is currently the leading points scorer for his team with Callum McComb the leading try scorer. Thd Antrim squad is going through a period of rebuilding. They have essentially a very young squad of players involved with players such as Ross Mackay stepping up with good effect from Medallion rugby.
The team has scored a lot of points in the course of the season with players such as Hull, McComb and Matthew Wright impressing. However, the coaching staff, as well as the players, realise that defensive frailties need to be addressed as they reach the business end of the season.
Adam Carville, a young emerging player, is another player who has gained experience with an Ulster Rugby RDS squad.
Carrickfergus Grammar School, coached by Neal Kennedy, who continues to receive great assistance from the experienced Stephen Martin, as well as the evergreen Michael Dickson, has experienced a topsy turvy season thus far in terms of results.
The team is captained jointly by Daniel Curley, also Head Boy of the school, and Adam Gardner. Adam is joined by his younger brother, Scott, on the team. They have won a number of games this season and lost others by the narrowest of margins. The squad is made up of a combination of youth and experience.
Year 12 players such as Scott Gardner, Liam Kaprigiannis Green, Dylan Wright and Matthew Alexander have made a smooth transition from Medallion rugby. They are joined by seasoned Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaigners such as Joshua Irvine, Ewan Milburn, Phil Stewart, Daniel Curley, Adam Gardner, Josh Clements and Luke Jefferson who will be keen to have an extended run in the competition this season.
Daniel Curley is the top scorer this season due his try scoring ability and accuracy with his trusty boot. Tries have been shared around the squad with props, Joshua Irvine and Liam Kaprigiannis Green, touching down on a number of occasions.
Centre, Jakob McComb, and winger, Josh Clements, have also caused problems for opposition defences this season. Carrickfergus aims to play fast attacking rugby at all times and, as results have shown, they tend to score plenty of tries. They will be hoping to score even more in the course of their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
Tomorrow’s game is scheduled to kick off at 10:30am
Meanwhile, Strabane Academy will also host Wellington College, Belfast tomorrow.
Strabane might have gained a psychological edge for this game having already played, and defeated, Wellington College earlier in the season. However, team coach, Niall McDonnell, who continues to receive great support from Steve Sargent, Adam Bratton and Stephen Smyth, will be keen to tell his young squad that tomorrow’s clash is the one that matters.
Similarly, Strabane captain, Jordan Mealiff, will be keen to play down that early season win. He will ask his players to focus fully on the job in hand. Playing at No 8, Jordan knows how to lead from the front.
Wellington College is coached by Peter Chambers, himself a former winner of an Ulster Schools’ Cup medal.
Team captain, Marcus Smyth, in entering his third Schools’ Cup campaign and this exciting player is hoping to lead his team through a run of games in the 2018/19 competition.
One of the highlights for Wellington College this season was their mid-term tour to Holland where they won two games against two Dutch U18 teams.
Kick-off is at 11am at Strabane Academy, Liskey Road.