Stage set for Schools’ Cup Final as Methody and Campbell clash at Kingspan

Campbell College and Methody will meet in a Schools’ Cup final for the 11th time on Thursday afternoon when the sides clash at Kingspan Stadium.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:54 pm

Campbell won the first St Patrick’s Day decider between the two Belfast Schools in 1931 but it is Methody that edge the head-to-head record five wins to four.

The trophy was shared in 1953 after a 0-0 draw at Ravenhill.

Having beaten his old school Wallace in the semi-final which contained his son Cameron, Campbell coaching consultant Neil Doak is hoping Campbell lift the trophy for a 25th time outright.

Press Eye Northern Ireland Monday 14th March 2022 Photographer // Matt Mackey Press Eye The Danske Bank Schools' Cup Final takes place this Thursday, where Kingspan will see Campbell College and Methodist College come head to head for the 2022 title. Captains Peter O'Hagan (Methody) and Tom Crowther (Campbell) met on the pitch in the lead up to the final.

“There was a bit of banter before the game, going to Wallace with myself and the two boys (Nathan and Cameron) coming through the school it was always going to be a difficult one no matter who won,” stated Doak.

“On the day were able to get the lead, considering the day before when Methody and Inst played in beautiful conditions, Campbell and Wallace had to play in the wind and rain but both teams coped pretty well with it.

“We were lucky enough to get that bit of a lead and if a couple of things had of went Wallace’s way it could have been slightly different.

“It was a great effort from the boys, and I think with Covid and some of the school leavers not getting an opportunity, the guys have been lucky.

“There is nothing better for a schoolboy to reach the final and getting to play at Kingspan Stadium on St Patrick’s Day,” he added.

“We’re delighted to get the semi-final win and move onto the final against a really good Methody side who have been dominant all year.”

Campbell have the game for all conditions, but Doak wants a dry track in the final.

“We’re lucky on that front - we have some decent forwards up front and some decent carriers in the backs as well,” he said.

“We ae looking to play a little bit of rugby and try to make sure and that we execute well on the day.

“We know how strong Methody are, hopefully on the day the weather holds, and it will be a great occasion and it will probably be whoever takes their chances and can deal with the occasion will come out on top.”

Methody are looking to extend their success in the competition to a record 37 outright wins.

Coach Nicky Wells was happy with the result in the semi final against RBAI if not with all aspects of the performance.

“Your main feeling after the semi-final is you are happy that you have done it and you have reached the goal that you have set yourself, and for the team at the very start of the season,” said Wells.

“Then you become a bit more analytical, looking over the semi-final and pondering stuff that maybe you haven’t prepped for the best, or maybe things where there has been miscommunication with the boys.

“That Inst game, although the scoreline probably flattered us a wee bit, showed problems that we had in the first 15 minutes that we need to address, or we won’t get out of the final against Campbell.

“It is always good to get tested like that as long as you come through the other end and win. It would have been a terrible way to go out of things if we hadn’t of coped with the pressure with them getting a couple of scores against us,” Wells added.

“The boys could have panicked but they kept playing. It was a prefect surface and prefect weather and we got through it and that is what we are ultimately looking for, and we need to get another big performance in the final.”

Wells knows Campbell will be the biggest challenge his team have faced in the competition.

“Campbell have got a great set-up there coaching-wise,” he said.

“They have a great tradition in the cup and they have a heavy U18 representation and it gets our boys 100 pre cent focused, and if we don’t get it right on the day we’ll come out second best.”