Omagh Academy happy to go to Coleraine as underdogs

Omagh's Matthew Clyde
Omagh's Matthew Clyde

Coleraine Academical Institution will start as favourites against Omagh Academy at the North West venue on Saturday morning (11am).

Even though Coleraine escaped from Down High with an injury time score in the third round, and coaches Richard Beggs and Stephen Douglas will make sure there is no complacency in the ranks tomorrow against the Tyrone school.

They will be encouraging their squad to take nothing for granted but to get this one to bed early and take the pressure off.

They are a confident team which has justified their inclusion as one of the top ranked teams this season.

The coaches will look to the experience that players such as Daniel McAllister, Oliver McDowell, James Bleakly and team captain, Peter Bonnar bring to the Coleraine AI pack.

These players are in their third season on the team and are hopeful of going one stage further than they did when they reached the semi-finals.

Their experience has assisted in the development of players such as Ulster’ U18 squad members such as Peter Weisener, Christi Hamilton and David Greatorex in the Coleraine AI pack.

Omagh Academy will happily wear the underdogs tag.

Over the years many teams from Omagh have caused upsets in the competition and one of the men responsible for his teams causing those upsets is still very much in vogue in rugby circles in Omagh Academy.

That man is, of course, Jackie Reid who assists Ross Hunter, the Omagh Academy coach, in preparing the current squad of players.

Reid will claim he not only has coached some of the current squad’s fathers-but maybe grandfathers as well!!

Omagh have already been on the road for their previous cup ties wins and will not be put off by a trip to Coleraine.

They will see it as an opportunity to complete an ‘away’ hat trick.

Hunter and Reid, feel this Omagh Academy team has much more to offer and will encourage their talented group of players to fulfil their potential.

Team captain, Adam Stephenson, has seen his players come through with 13 victories out of the 16 games they have played this season.

They defeated a strong RBAI Select XV early in the season, a win that laid down a positive marker for this Omagh team.

In true Omagh fashion, it has been the performances of the pack that have laid the foundations for the success the team has experienced.

Ulster Schools’ RDS members, Joshua McKinley and James Longwell, nephew of former Ulster and Ireland lock, Gary, are both key members of a pack that can also boast of the talents of players such as Matthew Sproule, Jonny Anderson and Matthew Clyde.

These players will be under pressure to produce quality possession so that Fintan Lagan and team vice-captain, Stuart Ballentine, can bring their exciting backs into play.

Adam Stephenson has scored nineteen tries this season with Andrew Monteith not far behind. Chris Hemphill and Dean Kane are two more Omagh Academy backs that love to get the ball in their hands.

There is more to this Omagh team than just forward power. Ballentine, as well as displaying good game management skills, also displays great ability will the ball off the tee.

He will be delighted to add to the 90 points he has scored already in games this season.

Omagh have conceded only two tries in their Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup campaign this season.

If they can maintain that defensive discipline and get sufficient quality possession from their pack, the Academy team will be hoping it could be a hard day in the office for the Coleraine AI team on Saturday.