Seven matches are down for decision this Saturday 12th January in Round 2 of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
Limavady Grammar v Larne Grammar
There has been a change of guard within the coaching set up at Limavady Grammar school with Aaron Hamilton and Ben Cartwright taking on the responsibility of coaching the 1st XV. They receive back up from Brian Hughes who acts as Master-in-Charge of rugby in the school.
The team captain is their Number 8, Joel Boucher. Joel has led his team well this season and he has seen the young squad grow in confidence and ability as the season has progressed.
The team has enjoyed some impressive victories in the course of the season and quite a few new players have stepped up to the demands of 1st XV rugby. There has been a great amount of determination and commitment shown by the Limavady Grammar School players in recent outings. With talented players such as Joshua Howe, their leading point’s scorer, his brother James, Austin Hargan, Jon McMichael, Dillon Walsh and Joel Boucher on board the Limavady Grammar School will look forward with great confidence to their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game against Larne Grammar School.
The Larne Grammar School team has endured a mixed season in terms of results. However, they will approach this game at Limavady Grammar School with a degree of confidence.
Coached by Nicholas Stirling and Marke Lambe the Larne Grammar School squad will realise this game presents them with the opportunity of turning their season around.
The team is captained by Jordan McIlhinney, a player who is equally at home playing at tight head prop or in the back row. Players such as Jason Ward, Andrew Herron, Jack Lough, Jack Withers and Aaron Gallagher have been regular try scorers this season and, in Euan Glenn, they have a very fine place kicker. Euan will be only too happy to add to his impressive kicking performances in the course of this game. In Steven Dickey the Larne Grammar School team has a hard working backrow player that has attracted the attention of the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department.
The Limavady Grammar School team will have to monitor all these Larne Grammar School players closely in the course of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game.
Grosvenor Grammar v Friends’ School
Despite having lost against Friends’ School, Lisburn in a friendly game when the teams met back in October, the Grosvenor Grammar School team could see themselves going into this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game as favourites to win.
The Grosvenor Grammar School team is coached by Mark McDowell who receives great assistance from Neil Cushley, Owen Henry and David McLaughlin. Matthew Allen plays a vital role with the provision of physiotherapy and S&C for the Grosvenor Grammar School players.
The team is captained by Josh Malcolm, a dynamic openside flanker. This has been a difficult season for the Grosvenor Grammar School team with a large turnover of 1st XV players from last season to this one.
A new coaching team has also been put in place and significant structural changes have been made to the set up. Results have been up and down throughout the season but it is a young side and improvements have slowly been made. Currently the 1st XV squad includes nine Year 12 players but the management team is hopeful for the future development with this group of players.
Inside centre, Adam Moore, is the top point’s scorer with quite a few tries as well as accurate kicking duties to his credit. James McMaster has been involved with the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ U18 squad and is a key player for the Grosvenor Grammar School team especially at set piece scrum time. Scrum Half, Mark Crooks, is the Deputy Head Boy of the school and his leadership qualities on the pitch provide great back up to those of Josh Malcolm.
The squad has a great attitude and they are hungry to improve as players and team mates. This positive attitude has continued despite a number of indifferent results this year. They have committed to everything the coaching group as asked of them and their work-ethic cannot be questioned. With the players already mentioned as well as others such as Izzy Young, Josh Patterson, Mark McCance and Jordan Brown on board the Grosvenor Grammar School team will approach their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game against the Friends’ School, Lisburn team in a very positive manner.
The Friends’ School, Lisburn team is coached by Stephen Robinson, who continues to receive assistance from Norman Gamble, now in his 37th season of coaching senior rugby in the school and Aaron Cairns who looks after the Skill Development and S&C aspects of preparing the players for their forthcoming Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
The Friends’ School team is captained by Matthew Chapman who forms an exciting centre partnership with Jack Harte, a player who has had his abilities recognised by the Ulster Schools’ U18 Management team. Stuart Patterson played for the Ulster U18 squad during the summer period and, in Reece Malone, the Friends’ School team has one of the most influential outhalves currently playing rugby in an Ulster School at the minute. Reece is the top point’s scorer for the Friends’ School, Lisburn team this season due to his attacking flair and eye for the line accompanied by his kicking excellence off the tee. Max Gillespie is another Friends’ School player the Grosvenor Grammar School defence will need to monitor closely due to his ball carrying skills.
The Friends’ School, Lisburn squad is continuing to develop and is a squad of players eager to learn. They will see their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Round 2 game against Grosvenor Grammar School as a difficult hurdle to overcome but they will be looking forward to the many challenges the game will provide.
Cambridge House v Banbridge Academy
(kick-off 10.30am at Eaton Park)
It was almost inevitable when the draw was being done for the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup back in November that, when the Cambridge House Grammar School team name came out, they would be playing Banbridge Academy. That is exactly how it turned out and these two teams will face each other, once again at Eaton Park, on Saturday 12th January.
The Cambridge House team is coached by John Nicholl who is assisted by Timmy Small, former Ulster player, Jamie Smith, and Michael Stevenson. The team is captained by Kane McIlroy, a player who was involved with the Ulster U19 squad when they won a blitz competition involving Sale RFC and Newcastle RFC U19 teams at Barnard Castle School back in August. Kane has led his team to good effect this season having played fifteen games and winning more than they have lost.
The top point’s scorer for the Cambridge House team has been Rory McCandless with players such as Kane McIlroy, Ethan Crawford, James McNabney and Josh Mark regularly among the try scorers as well. James has also been involved with the Ulster Schools’ U17 squad and will be hoping a good run in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup will propel him further along the representative route in rugby. James, like Josh Mark, has gained representative honours in Northern Ireland Equestrian Sports.
Earlier in the season a squad on ten Year 12 players, six Year 13 players and ten Year 14 players travelled to Portugal for a training camp which proved to be a great success for everyone concerned. It is hoped the learnings that took place at Brown’s Camp on the Algarve, as well as in the games the team has played since, will be put into place when the team meets Banbridge Academy in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
The Banbridge Academy team currently hold the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy and will be hoping they will not be in a position to defend that title after their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game against Cambridge House.
The Banbridge Academy team continues to be coached by Brian Leslie and Roy Stevenson both of whom have invested a great deal of time and commitment in ensuring their young charges have been well prepared for their forthcoming Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
The Head Boy of Banbridge Academy, Andrew Denvir, is also the captain of the 1stxv and brings undoubted leadership qualities to his role as captain. Andrew is the leading point’s scorer for the Banbridge Academy team this season having scored a number of tries and converted quite a few kicks as well. Andrew’s sporting prowess has been recognised in other codes as he is also a top class soccer player. Andrew is captain of a very committed and hard working group of players who have displayed a very positive attitude throughout, what has been at times, a difficult season results wise. Adam Hanna, equally at home on the front or back rows, has had his talents recognised by both the Ulster U18 and U19 management teams. Players such as Hugo Bertholon, Jack Dorman, Jake Houston, Louis O’Neill and Jake Beattie will be hoping to follow Andrew and Adam and produce performances in this intriguing Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game that will ensure their name will be in the draw for the third round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
Lurgan College v Foyle College
The Lurgan College team is coached by Kyle McCallan who is assisted by Rob Logan. The team is captained by Jon Woods who is also the Head Boy in Lurgan College. His imminent return to play post a wrist injury is seen as a major boost to the Lurgan College squad as preparations for this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game are finalised. Jon is equally adept at playing in the 2nd Row or back row but it is his return to fitness that will mean so much to his team mates.
The team has had a 50/50 season in terms of results with injuries at critical times impacting on what is a relatively small squad of senior players. The season started well then the injuries impacted in the November/December period. However, some recent positive results have given the Lurgan College squad a great boost as they prepare for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
Luke Forsyth, Ewen Mulligan, Ben Marsden, Peter Hutchinson, Harry Bird and Josh Best are other key players in the Lurgan College squad who seem to be hitting top form at just the right stage of the season. Whilst small in number this year, the Lurgan College players have come through a difficult period of their season and have become a tight knit group. With all players available for selection linked to some recent good results it is felt this will further boost team spirit and there is a great deal of excitement going into their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
The Foyle College team is coached by David Barnett and Alistair Ferguson with Paul O’Kane filling a vital role as Director of Rugby. The team captain is their effervescent scrum half, Andrew Miller, a player who knows how to lead from the front. Andrew has impressed with his performances this season as have players such as Tom Adair, Sam Milligan, William Finlay, Ben Galbraith, Scott Pollock and William Watson, who is also the Head Boy.
All of these players, alongside their coaches, will be looking to Keelin Coyle, an outstanding centre and member of the Ulster U19 squad, to continue with his point’s scoring exploits when they line up against the Lurgan College team in their 2nd Round Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game. Keelin has scored many tries for the Foyle College team in the course of the past number of seasons and he has proven to be a deadly accurate place kicker as well. Keelin will be only too happy to add to his total if given the opportunities to do so in the course of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup match.
Dromore HS v Regent House
(kick-off 11.00am at Barban Hill)
Since coming on board and entering the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup competition three seasons ago the Dromore High School teams have made many people sit up and take notice during that period of time. The current squad of very talented Dromore High School players are no exception to this and they will be looking forward with eager anticipation to hosting the Regent House School team when they meet in the 2nd Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.
Josh Pentland and Gareth Bronte make up the coaching team at Dromore High School and they encourage their players to play what they see in front of them. As well as being Head Boy in the school Rhys Dale, their exciting scrum half, is captain of the team. Sam Fairley currently heads the points scored list but in team mates such as Caleb Harper, Cameron Owens, Peter O’Connor, Ben Carey, Tom Dolaghan, Ryan McDowell and Xander Lowham Sam has many rivals for that honour. Cameron Owens is joined by his twin brother, Jack, on the team and they will be certain to create an impression when it comes to Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup time. The Dromore High School squad has had a difficult season at times with a small senior number of players but the commitment from the group has been brilliant. They have bounced back from some heavy defeats and have played well in the run up to Christmas by defeating some well-known and established school teams. The coaches have used a number of Year 12 players who have adapted well this season to the demands of senior rugby in the school. They will all be looking forward to their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign.
The Regent House School team, having already defeated the Dromore High School team this season, will undoubtedly see themselves as clear favourites to win this game. Coached by Nick Gamble, Mervyn Tweed and Budge Poutney, with Neil Dougan providing the Strength and Conditioning input, the Regent House team has achieved some great results this season.
The team captain is Keir Edgar, a player who is equally at home playing as a loose head prop or playing in the second row. Stuart Martin is the top point’s scorer in the squad and he is a player who will be only too willing to punish any indiscretions from the Dromore High School team with his deadly accurate kicking skills off the tee. Will Hopes is a very clever lineout forward who has gained representative honours earlier in the season with both the Ulster Schools’ U18 team and the Ulster U19 team.
Other Regent House players the Dromore High School team will need to monitor closely include Mattie McFarland, Josh Heron, Kristian Wallace McKimm, Callum Dawson and Ethan McFerran. All these players have been regular try scorers throughout the season. As well as being an outstanding rugby player Stuart Martin plays elite level hurling for Co Down and is the holder of two All-Ireland Age Grade Hurling Medals, Mattie McFarland is the current Ulster Schools’ Javelin Champion, Samuel Attipoe has represented Ulster Schools’ Athletics in the Shot Putt Inter-Pro competition and Adam McGrath is a Grade 8 Flute player.
The Regent House School squad enjoyed a tour to Bordeaux at Halloween where they played against two teams- one a local town team and the other an area select team. They were also coached by British and Irish Lions legend, Tom Smith, and did a fitness session on the biggest sand dune in Europe-the Dune de Pilat. This highly committed and hard-working team will be hoping to take everything they have learnt so far this season into their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup 2nd Round game against Dromore High School.
Carrickfergus Grammar v Down HS
The Carrickfergus Grammar School team came through successfully against Antrim Grammar School when the teams met in the 1st Round of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup in December. That game saw the Carrickfergus GS team come from behind early in the game and the fact they went on to win it has given the squad great confidence as they prepare for their 2nd Round game at home to Down High School.
The Carrickfergus Grammar School team, 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.
The Carrickfergus Grammar School team 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 which they got off to a very good start following their victory against Antrim Grammar School in the first round.
The Down High School team is coached by the experienced duo of Charlie Knox and John Gunston with James McBriar looking after the Strength and Conditioning aspects of the preparation for their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign. The team is captained by their hard-working open-side flanker, Reece Hagan, a player who leads by example, both on and off the pitch. The work load of vice-captain is shared between Greg Hutley and Charlie Marshall. Both these players offer great support to Reece and are regularly among the points scorers for the Down High School team. Greg, an Ulster U18 Schools’ and U19 player, is the leading point’s scorer for the Down High School team. Greg can play effectively as an outhalf or centre and is a very fine striker of the ball out of hand or off the tee. Greg has had his talents recognised from further afield and he was recently an attendee at an Ireland Age Grade Camp. Charlie is a very hard-working No 8 who has scored quite a number of tries this season following dynamic plays from the base of the scrum. Joe Charles has been involved with the Ulster U17 Schools’ Development squad and should see the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign as an opportunity to further impress the Ulster Rugby Talent ID Department. Andy McCoubrey, Jonathan Graham, Jakob Cross, Conor Gibson and Stuart Campbell, the Head Boy in Down High School, are other players in this hard-working squad the Carrickfergus Grammar School team will need to monitor closely in the course of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game.
Belfast HS v Strabane Academy
When Belfast High School host Strabane Academy in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game there will be a sense of deja-vu for all concerned as both teams met at the same stage of the competition last season. On that occasion the Belfast High School team had to dig deep before emerging as eventual winners. Coaches, Michael Rainey and David Scott, will realise that their team will have to dig deep once again against a team that has already experience a successful outcome to a Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup game this season.
The Strabane Academy team won their 1st Round game against Wellington College, Belfast and will travel with confidence to play Belfast High School in the next stage. The Belfast High School team is captained by Jay Doyle, a player who leads his team effectively and efficiently from the hooker position. He will not allow his team mates to underestimate what the Strabane Academy team will bring to the occasion. He will look to the try scoring abilities of players such as Cameron McKimm, Andrew Huey, Ross Gray, Jack Ferguson and Thabiso Madlala to assist their team in overcoming the challenges the Strabane Academy will present on the day. The place kicking skills of Aaron Douglas could be vital as well against the Strabane Academy team.
While it has been a difficult season thus far for the Belfast High School team the coaches and players will see this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game as an opportunity to get the new term of to a good start results wise.
Having won their recent Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 1 game the Strabane Academy 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 the game that really matters now is their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game against Belfast High School. Similarly, the Strabane Academy team captain, Jordan Mealiff, will be keen to play down that previous round win. He will take the positives from that game and ask his players to focus fully on the job in hand on Saturday 12th at Belfast High School. Playing at No 8, Jordan is a very committed player who knows how to lead from the front. He is currently the top point’s scorer for the team this season.
Quite a few of the best performances for this Strabane Academy team have been on the road in the course of the current season. The coaching staff, as well as the players, will take those positive memories into account as they prepare to travel to Newtownabbey. Other key players in the squad include Jack Sayers, Jamie Brown, Harry McCrossan, Reuben Orr, Jack Kee and David Shaw. Ralph Mealiff, brother of team captain, Jordan, is another Strabane Academy player the Belfast High School defence will need to monitor closely. James Preston and Reuben Orr are not only fine rugby players but also well known in musical circles in the Strabane area. They will be hoping to lead a celebratory sing song at the end of this Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup Round 2 game.