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Ulster boys hope lightning strikes twice in inter-pros

By Graham Hamilton

Published 16/11/2016

Talisman: Matthew Crookshanks is one of Ulster’s key players for the under 18 inter-provincials
Talisman: Matthew Crookshanks is one of Ulster’s key players for the under 18 inter-provincials

Ulster's schoolboys are bidding for a double double when the Under 16 and Under 18 inter-provincials are staged at Queen's this weekend.

Both age groups won their titles last season in Cork and with home advantage this time, respective coaches Ewan Butler and Shirley McCay are hoping for further success at this level.

The Under 16s, in fact, have been crowned champions for the past four seasons, so it's a case of going for the high-five, but naturally there have been considerable changes in the squad, with players moving up to the next level.

The Under 18s arguably face a more difficult proposition as Leinster are particularly keen to regain the title which they won on the three previous occasions.

But the Ulster players are well prepared, though, with many of the squad having competed for Ulster at the recent UK Sainsburys Schools Games in Loughborough and quite a few gaining experience at senior club level.

Sullivan Upper's Matthew Crookshanks is the stand-out player in this case, as he is a regular with current Ulster Premier League leaders Annadale.

But in goalkeeper Luke Roleston (Banbridge Academy) they have a fine last line of defence, and along with Crookshanks and Royal & Prior's Alex Tinney, picked up valuable experience when they lined out for the Irish Under 18s in July's European championships staged in Cork.

Meanwhile there is a curtailed Ulster Premier League programme due to the inter-provincials, with just three of the five scheduled games going ahead.

With the Annadale and Cookstown games being off, it gives Kilkeel an opportunity to close the gap, although it won't be easy at Campbellians, while Newry are hoping to maintain their recent surge in form by returning from the trip to Raphoe with something positive.

U16 inter-pros (Queen's) Friday: Ulster v Leinster (1pm); Ulster v Munster (5pm).

Saturday: Munster v Leinster (10am); Munster v Ulster (2pm).

Sunday: Leinster v Munster (10am); Leinster v Ulster (2pm)

U18 inter-pros (Queen's) Friday: Ulster v Leinster (3pm); Ulster v Munster (7pm).

Saturday: Munster v Leinster (12pm); Munster v Ulster (4pm)

Sunday: Leinster v Munster (12pm); Leinster v Ulster (4pm)

ULSTER U16s: Scott Dale (Banbridge Acad.), Sam Hamill (Regent), Sammy Clyde (Parkhall IC), Matthew Willis (Sullivan), Matthew Steele (Ballyclare High), Joel Lutton (Killicomaine JHS), Sam Anderson (Friends), Stephen Hamill (Bangor Gram.), Jack McGall (Friends), Hugo Henderson (Friends), Harry Scott (Friends), Tommy Orr (Limavady Gram.), Oliver Kidd (Friends), Jonathan Lynch (Wallace High), Troy Chambers (Cookstown High), Stewart Wylie (Cookstown High), Rory Brown (Friends), Matthew Campton (Methody).

ULSTER U18s: Luke Roleston (Banbridge Acad), Joshua McCabe (Cookstown High), Ben Wallace (Royal & Prior), Alex Tinney (Royal & Prior), Tom Robson (Sullivan), Michael Patterson (MCB), Fergus Gibson (Sullivan), Jacob Hermon (Wallace High), Matthew Crookshanks (Sullivan), Michael Kerr (Cookstown High), Matthew Milliken (Friends), Harry Morris (Sullivan), Cole Chambers (Cookstown High), Harry Dow (Bangor Gram.), Craig Getty (Wallace High), Spencer Pinion (South Eastern RC), Matthew Morris (Sullivan), Patrick Hunter (Wallace High)

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