Bangor Grammar eager to boost their rich Cup tradition
Bangor Grammar have won the Danske Bank Schools' Cup on five occasions but the last time was in the Eighties and that's something coach Jason Morgan wants to rectify starting with a second round win over Limavady Grammar.
The North Down side contested five finals in that decade and won three times but their only visit to Kingspan since was in 1995 when they lost to the current holders RBAI.
Morgan's coaching skills have led to an upsurge in the standard of play at the Bangor senior club in that after winning the Junior Cup last month they are vying with Instonians to be the top junior team in the province.
Morgan's experience has rubbed off on the school side who have recently had a number of strong results.
"Our season started with some mixed form after we defeated Armagh Royal but then we disappointed against Portadown College," he said.
"Confidence was boosted after we found a level of consistency and wins followed against Dalriada, Regent and Down High and a draw against Wallace High.
"In between we faced Inst and kept in the contest until a try in the final four minutes gave them a 12-3 advantage.
"We have a number of outstanding players in our squad," he added.
"No 8 Matthew Agnew actually played his first game for Ulster under 18's before even turning out for our Firsts," Morgan explained.
"He went straight into the summer programme after his Medallion season and was so impressive that he was given a bench spot for the Inter-pros.
"Not only is he a superb rugby player but academically he achieved an amazing 10 A stars in his GCSE exams over the summer.
"Zac Kerr in the centre has been most impressive in his first year in the Firsts and has been dominant in most matches. He is powerful and extremely fast and is also a talented goal kicker."
At out-half Bangor have Lewis Bret, a fantastic ball carrier.
"He holds the ball in both hands and keeps the opposing defences guessing. He can find a gap and set the back line moving and is beginning to become a natural leader. His kicking game has progressed and his understanding of when to use it has greatly improved," he said.
"In the centre Charlie Blair, the youngest of the three brothers, is abrasive and exceptionally strong in defence. He has great vision and excellent handling skills.
"We are also strong up front," the Kiwi added.
"Paddy Eves in the second row has had his share of injuries during the early part of the year and he is now pushing for higher honours. He has a great engine and stands at 6' 5.
"Only an inch smaller is tight head prop Martin Withers who is built like a man mountain, weighing in at 122 kgs. He is a strong scrummager and has a lot of potential."
Limavady Grammar, fresh after their 27-13 first round success at Cambridge House, have an attacking out-half in their captain Mark Woods, who scored two tries, and the benefit of an accurate kicker in Jim McCartney.
Gareth Key is a strong 100 metre runner and Ethan Sherrard has played for the last three years in the centre.
Rowan Mulligan is known for his sniping from scrum-half and David Mullan at No 6 is destructive at the breakdown.
The two formidable Sandhu brothers are also in the pack and winger McCartney recently received a tweet from Brian O'Driscoll which has given him inspiration.
Coach Chris Nash feels he has a good honest hard-working bunch of lads who showed their skills at Ballymena.
"Sometimes we have struggled with results and the physical side of our game but we will give Bangor a real test," he vowed.
With tomorrow morning's tie in Bangor, the home team must be favourites to reach the third round when the eight top seeds enter the draw.
The other second round ties are: Dalriada v Omagh Academy, Foyle College v Antrim Grammar, Portadown College v Friends' School, Regent House v Portora Royal, RS Armagh v Rainey Endowed, Ballyclare High v RS Dungannon, Belfast RA v Grosvenor Grammar