SCHOOLS’ CUP: Home comforts could prove key for Dalriada against Bangor Grammar

Dalriada training ahead of their quarter-final meeting with Bangor Grammar School in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools Cup
Dalriada training ahead of their quarter-final meeting with Bangor Grammar School in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools Cup

Dalriada have come through two difficult encounters in earlier rounds to deservedly secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup.

Having defeated a very good Omagh Academy team in the second round they were then on the road to the Maiden City where they defeated a very spirited Foyle and Londonderry College team in the third round.

They will be pleased to be at home against Bangor Grammar School in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Dalriada coach Rab Gregg, who is assisted by the experienced Benji Van Der Byl, was delighted with the positive manner his team came through their potentially difficult earlier encounters against Omagh and Foyle and Londonderry.

They have a very mobile pack of forwards with which to work and a pack that can produce quality set piece possession as well quick ruck ball. Aaron Christie, Matthew Lockhart and Matthew Kernoghan are the experienced players in the pack with each of them playing in their third Schools’ Cup campaign.

Matthew Kernoghan, son of former Ulster Schools’, Ireland Schools and Ireland U21’s hooker Richard, is equally adept at playing in the hooker or blind side flanker positions and he brings a great deal to the Dalriada pack with his flexibility.

Alan Montgomery has been involved with Ulster Age Grade squads over the past few seasons and his all action style is greatly appreciated by his team mates as are his try scoring exploits. Team captain Angus Johnston is the top try and points scorer for the Dalriada team. A talented on-stage actor as well Angus forms an astute halfback partnership with Matthew McConnaghie and their aim will be to move the opposition around the park.

There is power and pace aplenty in the Dalriada back line. Their direct lines of running and pace of attack have caused problems for opposition defences all season. Ross Fallows and Thomas Hunter, as well as being talented rugby players, are talented athletes. Ross has represented Northern Ireland in Volleyball and both have represented Northern Ireland in Athletics. Gavin McConnaghie has Northern Ireland Volleyball honours behind him as well.

Perhaps the jewel in the Dalriada back division crown is Stewart Moore. Stewart is a very talented rugby player who has scored many points this season through tries and goal kicks.

When the Bangor Grammar School players heard they had been drawn to play Dalriada in the quarter-final of the Schools’ Cup there was a loud cheer heard around Ballyclare High School where the draw was made.

They will travel to Dalriada for their Schools’ Cup quarter-final game secure in the knowledge they have an almost fully fit squad of senior players from which to select. However, they will still be missing the services of their talented second row forward Christopher Goldthorpe who picked up a leg injury prior to the Schools’ Cup campaign starting.

The top scorer for the Bangor GS team is Zack Kerr who is also a very fine place kicker. Zack has rugby genes aplenty running through him. His father, Chris, a former Bangor Grammar School prop, was another member of the all -conquering Ulster Schools’ team that toured in Zimbabwe in 1988. Zack is a nephew of Mark McCall who learnt his trade playing in the same position for the same school.

Zack has also scored a number of tries this season including one against Ballyclare High in the last round.

Kick off at 10.30am.