There is an intriguing clash in prospect when perennial Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup favourites, Methodist College, meet the Royal School, Armagh team at Ravenhill today.
Both teams have come through somewhat difficult clashes in their earlier round games and both teams have yet to concede a point in the Schools’ Cup this season.
Methody displayed great character to defeat a strong Campbell College team in the fourth round.
Their attacking instincts were richly rewarded in the first half of that game while their defensive organisation was tested severely in the second half and came through with flying colours.
Team coaches, Nick Wells and Stephen Lindsay, know they have a talented group of players available to them, quite a number of whom tasted success when they won the Schools’ Cup last season.
Team captain Ross Kane will be keen to remind his team of the proud tradition many Methody teams have established in the Ulster Schools’ Cup over the years.
Team mates such as Michael Lagan, Mark Campbell, James Gallagher, Paddy Colhoun and Conor McKee will have benefitted from the experience gained in last season’s campaign.
They will assist greatly in helping Ross explain to the younger players such as Alex Thompson, Conor Kelly and Josh Bingham exactly what it is to play in a Schools’ Cup semi-final.
The Methody pack laid the foundation for their quarter-final success against Wallace HS. Their ability to control the set pieces as well as produce quality possession from rucks and mauls put pressure on Wallace and enabled Methody to rack up 22 unanswered points by the interval.
They will be hoping for more of the same on Wednesday.
Royal School, Armagh players have gone quietly about their business in recent weeks.
They defeated Coleraine Academical Institution in a comprehensive manner in the fourth round and overcame a potential hazard in the quarter-final when they travelled to Bangor Grammar School and recorded another impressive victory.
Team coaches, Kenny Hooks and Dave Eakin, have not been afraid to experiment with positional changes in their pack and, so far, these changes appear to be adding to the success of the team, particularly in the front row.
Captain Michael Hoey has impressed with his on field leadership and has received good support from experienced colleagues such as Darryl Morton and John Dunne.
This trio, along with fellow forwards such as James Johnston, Jonny Morton and Michael Rolston, ensured the Armagh pack put in a disciplined performance against Bangor Grammar School.
They were more effective at the breakdown and kept their backs supplied with quality possession throughout the game.
Conor and Ali Wright form an experienced RS Armagh half back partnership while players such as Toby McAlpine, Daniel Ewart and John McDonagh all contributed a great deal in both attack and defence throughout that game.
Recent RS Armagh teams have come close to getting to Ravenhill for the Ulster Schools’ Cup final but it will take an extra special effort if they are to repeat the success of the team of 2004.