Dungannon expect a right Royal contest with Omagh
Jack Milligan, the Dungannon Royal School captain, will have a big part to play when Tyrone rivals Omagh Academy visit in the first round of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup on Saturday.
The out-half has represented Ireland under-19s and was part of the Ulster side that won the Inter-Provincial series. In fact, it was his converted interception try that helped overcome a strong Connacht 13-9 after, in an earlier game, he kicked a late penalty to defeat Munster 13-10.
Milligan, whose father captained the senior Dungannon team in 1982, has scored the most points and most tries this season but there is plenty of talent throughout the side.
Oscar Wong has showed his versatility at scrum-half when he crossed twice against Regent House 24-15, while both centres Scott McLean and Stuart Moore are a mature pair that link well with Milligan.
Young John Buckley has scored a number of tries either playing at full-back or outside centre.
Coach Gareth McClintock is very pleased with how the squad had progressed.
"We have had a mixture of results and have been improving with each game," he explained.
"Even in matches which we have lost, we have displayed some exciting rugby and a defence that has made the opposition fight for every yard.
"In both the forwards and backs we have a number of players that pose a threat."
McClintock, who greatly increased the standard of rugby at Carrickfergus Grammar before moving to Dungannon, feels that his forwards will have a large part to play.
"We have a number of senior players such as hooker Jamie McNeill and second row forward Michael Jones who have a determined work ethic and are strong ball carriers and vital at the breakdown.
"We will be without No 8 Marcus Nelson, a cousin of Peter the former RSD and currently senior Ulster squad member. He sustained a broken collarbone but Thomas Downing will be a more than adequate replacement.
"He and flanker Josh McKee are true back row players who are excellent at re-cycling possession."
Dungannon defeated Carrick in their last outing 24-5 but Omagh Academy have also been having positive results.
Last Saturday they travelled to Enniskillen to overcome Portora Royal 26-12 with centre Lloyd Kane running in two tries and James Catterson, who is on the scoring sheet most weeks, one.
Two weeks before, they were very weak when they also faced Portora, but still came out on top 11-0 with centre Adam Stephenson scoring all their points with two penalties and a try. Ross Hunter, the Omagh coach, says there are many more competent players in his line-up.
"Our half-back pairing of Adam Beattie and Stuart Ballintine have been combining well and blind side flanker Stuart Allen puts in a lot of work," he said.
"This is a game we are looking forward to as we proved our capabilities against Portora when we fielded our strongest side since September. I know they defeated us early on but we were without eight regulars. We are up to it and have every chance of turning them over."