Thrills and spills as rugby Schools’ Cup final back after three-year break

There was a terrific atmosphere at the Kingspan Stadium today for the first Schools’ Cup final to take place in three years.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 17th March 2022, 6:18 pm
Methody fans make plenty of noise during the final
Methody fans make plenty of noise during the final

Young fans of Campbell College and Methody made plenty of noise from the stands as two of the biggest hitters in schools’ rugby battled it out on the pitch.

Both the fans and the players more than made up for lost time after two successive finals were not played.

No competition took place last year while in 2020, the final between Wallace High School and Royal School Armagh was cancelled due to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the pitch the players delivered a spectacle worthy of the stadium in which it was played, while in the stands the fans reacted loudly to the action.

There was plenty of melody as well with Campbell College bringing its pipe band to the occasion.

However, it was the Methody fans making all the noise at the final whistle after winning an epic encounter 20-17.

Man of the match Ben McFarland, who landed the winning kick from almost the halfway line and then put in a try-saving tackle, told the BBC after the game: “Ever since first year, when we saw the boys coming through, I remember Tommy Armstrong and Ethan McIlroy, watching them when we were in third year, we were like we want to do something like that one day.”

Of the winning kick he said: “I’ve practised long enough, I knew if I trust my technique I’d be ok.”

Former Ulster out half Ian Humphreys said that based on the final, “the future is bright for Ulster Rugby”.

Ulster’s head of operations Bryn Cunningham said it was important that these players go on playing rugby later in life.

Among the crowd was an Ulster starlet who never got to play in a Schools’ Cup final despite making it all the way there.

Former Wallace pupil Nathan Doak had been due to play in the 2020 final but had to make do with sharing the trophy with Royal School Armagh after the match was scrapped.

He said he had put the disappointment of missing the showpiece occasion behind him and is loving life as part of Ulster Rugby.

Son of Ulster star Neil Doak, he has put in star displays for his Province and is tipped to get an Ireland cap in the near future.