Sullivan have reached the School’s Cup final for the first time in their 137 years history and while the euphoria is reaching fever pitch around Holywood as they prepare to meet Methody at Ravenhill captain Ross Todd is trying to treat it as any other game.
“With Holywood being such a small town everyone is starting to get hyped up by the occasion.
“We have a talented squad and everyone knows we have a job to do, it’s not about the occasion it’s about the doing a job and we’re confident that if we play to the best of our ability we’ll definitely challenge this Methody team,” said Todd.
“I’m doing my best to keep calm and Willie Anderson has been to these occasions many times before and he has done a very good job of keeping the boys levelled and keeps our eyes on the target.
“In the Schools Cup no game is ever going to be easy and so far we have had to dig deep in every game and play to our best because everybody steps their game up.
“We’ve been upping our game and so far the preparation has been spot on.
“The school has never done it before so it’s just not for the players but for the entire school, it’s a huge occasion and they are going to try and do everything they can to drive us over the line and get the job done.
“At this age there is no better feeling than to be captain of the first XV and to be the first captain of Sullivan to ever get to a Schools Cup final is absolutely exceptional and it is going to be the best experience of my life so I have to cherish ever moment, I’ll enjoy it.”
Not many schools teams have a former Ireland captain or international assistant coach in charge.
“Willie is an inspiration to all us and he is really what keeps the team going, him, Mr Kelly, Mr Armstrong and Stephen Finlay has been a real credit to the team and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.
“They have dug deep for us this season at times when we had lows this season but they have built us up and got us to where we are today and give us the strength and confidence to challenge Methody at Ravenhill.”
Sullivan had a very effective and simple game plan in the semi-final when they pack paved the way for victory.
“It was more the weather that dictated how well we played that day, we weren’t really expecting the bad weather but we had to play a bit of ruck and run rugby.
“We just stuck it up the jumper and Coleraine were big country boys and they put it up to us in fairness to them, they gave us a real run for our money at times in the last 20 minutes they challenged us, we stuck it out and dug deep.”
If the sun shines Todd feels Sullivan also have a good back unit that can play running rugby.
“We got talented backs to bring a bit of flair into the game and keep Methody moving, we’ve got the forwards, we’ve got the backs we’re fairly rounded so it comes down to the day.”
Methody have won the last two finals and are chasing they 35th outright victory in the competition and will start heavily odds out to make it three in a row but that doesn’t worry Todd.
“I’m sure they will be going in quietly confident, there have played us twice this season and beaten us both times.
“I’m confident with the talent we have and the amount of representatives, if we perform play together and don’t get caught up in the occasion and with everyone behind us we can challenge them.
“They have been here and it’s their 62nd final and they are going for the treble, a lot of their boys played in fifth year and lower sixth.
“They have been in grand occasions and they are not getting to caught up in it but the excitement and desire we have we’ll put pressure on ourselves to perform but we’ll definitely step up to the occasion.
“They have done it all before and they are setting the standard this year, they have lost once this year and we’ve lost twice to them and another game against Coleraine.
“We’re underdogs but everybody loves an underdog story.
“If we are willing to play for each other and just play with heart and desire we’ll definitely ask questions of them.”
The majority of the Sullivan side played in the school’s Medallion Shield victory at Ravenhill in 2011 but Todd feels that wouldn’t have any bearing on this afternoon’s show piece.
“As a young boy you always dream of playing in the schools cup final.
“You go every year and you see what a great occasion it is and you want to be there every year and it is kind of a surreal feeling to be a part of it this year.”
“The Medallion Shield was absolutely fantastic but there is no television, there isn’t the same crowd or it doesn’t have the same feeling so it is going to be a new experience for us all and I’m sure we’ll enjoy every minute of it.”