Carrick eager to pass opening Schools' test
The Danske Bank Schools' Cup kicks-off tomorrow when Carrick Grammar host Strabane Academy in the preliminary round (12pm).
Strabane returned to the competition last season after a seven-year absence - they fell at this stage to Antrim Grammar - and are led this time round by captain Thomas O'Flaherty and leading try-scorers Ralph Mealiff and Adam McElwee.
Carrick have returned just one starter to the team that impressed last year, leading scorer Fionn McCormack, although captain Nathan Fugard, scrum-half Nathan Doherty, back-rower Mark Snoddy and lock Aaron Stevenson were all involved in the squad at some stage.
The young team have struggled for results during this campaign and coach Stephen Martin is wary of the threat posed by the County Tyrone side.
"We played them last year in the sevens competition and I know they've retained about six from that team," he said.
"They've got a bit of strength in depth. We're glad to get the home draw and with a two-hour journey it should certainly play to our advantage. We've struggled a bit with small numbers but the guys are really keen and really enthusiastic."
Danske Bank Schools' Cup first round draw: Larne Grammar v Royal School Armagh, Lurgan College v Portadown College, Cambridge House v Limavady Grammar, Wellington College v Friends, Royal School Dungannon v Carrick Grammar/Strabane Academy, Banbridge Academy v Antrim Grammar, Belfast High School v Foyle College. Ties to be played on Saturday, January 9.