Sullivan's Callum seeks upper hand in final clash
Sullivan Upper schoolboy Callum Robson is being tipped to follow in the footsteps of big brother Michael and make it to the senior Irish international panel.
But that remains a few years ahead of the talented teenager who has more pressing things this week both at school and club level.
Callum takes to the Lisnagarvey pitch this afternoon (2pm) with younger brother Tom as their Holywood school bid to land the McCullough Cup for the first time in the competition's 55-year history, with last year's finalists Wallace High the opposition.
And then he joins older brother Michael in Annadale's first team squad on Saturday as they face a critical game in the EY Irish Hockey League against Cookstown at Lough Moss - a clash they need to win to climb off the foot of the table and ease any early relegation worries.
Callum said: "I'm looking forward to both games, although they will be tough. We know Wallace are a good team but we are determined to win the trophy for the first time and follow in the footsteps of the girls, who won the Schools' Cup last season."
Callum has already won gold with the Ulster U18s at the Sainsbury's UK School Games in September, along with Sullivan captain Matthew Crookshanks, and also featured with the Irish U18s in the Europeans staged in Santander in July and he believes those experiences, along with his school and club commitments, have made him a better player.
However, he's not the only star man in Sullivan's ranks. Coach Andy Williamson has watched skipper Crookshanks develop nicely too, and also Adam McAllister and John Matchett who were instrumental in their semi-final win over Friends.
And brothers Harry and Matthew Morris - sons of former Lisnagarvey and Ireland defender Ivan - and Callum's younger brother Tom are shaping up well and have received Under-16 honours.
But Callum acknowledges that Wallace represent a big threat this afternoon, with so many of their players having experienced playing in various schools finals.
"We know Matthew (Nelson) and Andrew (O'Hare) are potential matchwinners for Wallace but we have a strong defence and can score a few goals ourselves," he insisted.
Nelson, O'Hare, Jordan Taggart, Jacob Hermon and Scott McCabe were all part of that UK Games squad, and also benefited from coaching by Argentina's Gonzalo Peillat, New Zealand's Phil Burrows and GB's Ben Arnold during a recent trip to the Netherlands.
O'Hare rattled in four for Errol Lutton's side in their 6-3 semi-final win over holders Banbridge Academy - and so Sullivan will have to ensure tight marking while doing their best not to concede penalty corners.
THE top four go head-to-head in the EY Irish Hockey League on Saturday as the programme approaches the halfway stage before taking a seven-week break during which the international team head off to South Africa for a further training camp ahead of the Rio Olympics.
Leaders Lisnagarvey have fourth-placed Three Rock Rovers at Hillsborough while third-placed Banbridge go to second side Monkstown, and the results of these will go a long way in deciding which three teams will join the Irish Senior Cup winners in the end-of-season play-offs.
Garvey should edge matters against Three Rock but may have to be patient to break down a strong defence.
Bann, though, have noted that Monkstown haven't been firing on all cylinders on their new Merrion Fleet Arena pitch - they lost at home to Glenanne last week - and are out to take advantage.