Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

It’s best foot forward for magical Methody

Methodist College 13 Armagh Royal 6

Methody's Mark Best in action with Armagh's Harry Doyle.
Methodist College Belfast v Royal School Armagh at Pirrie Park, Belfast.
Methody's Ryan Martin in action with Armagh's Andrew Hooks.

Forward control helped Methody overcome Armagh Royal to reach the quarter-finals of the Northern Bank Schools' Cup at Pirrie Park.



This was anticipated to be one of the main hurdles that Methody had to breach and this they managed although the visitors kept in the tie right to the end.

With such a formidable lie-up Armagh were always going to face a virtually impossible task and with Paddy Jackson in excellent form their task was somewhat more difficult.

The Irish Schools' half back had a massive influence and his controlled kicking kept pushing Armagh back when they looked dangerous.

Methody had most of the possession and territory but did not play an expansive game just kicking into the corners. The game was not a spectacle more a war of attrition between two packs that nearly cancelled each other out.

After fifteen minutes Jackson dropped a goal although this was cancelled out by Andrew Magowan. Jackson then kicked a penalty before Rory Harrison went in for a well executed try converted by Jackson. That came about following a maul after Methody had taken up a position close to the visitor's line.

Armagh kept attempting to force the pace but unfortunately for them a simple penalty, right in front of the posts, was missed. This came at the wrong psychological time, just before the interval, and it appeared to have an influence on their play.

Their pack had worked hard to get into that position so this was a bad miss, obviously caused by nerves due to the occasion.

It also meant, with the half time score 13-3, Armagh were two scores away from catching up.

When Jackson kicked his second penalty just after the restart Armagh's task became harder but they did their best to get back into the tie.

Their flanker Stuart Hooks put in a lot of tackles and inside centre Robbie Magowan, despite being small in stature, kept managing to bring down the massive home forwards. At full-back Tim McNiece also played a big part in defence with robust in the tackle and ever sure under the high ball.

The Methody front row excelled and Conor Carey was exceptional throughout the game.

Armagh managed to reduce the arrears with another Magowan penalty and this brought them back to within one score. It appeared to increase their confidence and they kept going to the close.

At one stage they had a line-out at the Methody ‘22' and felt they could at least force a draw and have a home replay. Alas, it didn't happen and Methody held on for a deserved victory and a home game against Ballyclare High.

Former Irish International winger Kenny Hooks and Armagh coach was pleased with his team's efforts.

“We gave our all but Methody, on the day, were better and deserved their victory,” he said.

Methodist College: D. McElhinney, J.Stanfield, M.Best, R.Martin, M.Gribben, B.McIlroy, P.Jackson, J.Kamara, R.Harrison, C.Carey, C.Long, J.Andress, P.McKee, G.Reilly, R.Winters, P.McCluggage, C.Robinson, D.Kerr, M.McFall, B.McIlroy, O.McCollum

Armagh Royal: T.McNiece, H.Boyd, C.Colvin, R.Magowan, P.Steed, A.Magowan, H.Doyle, S.Carlisle, A.Smyth, J.Dixon, J.Haughey, A.Hooks, N.Faloon, S.Hooks, D.Bingham, P.Reaney, A.Frazer, T.Johnston, M.Steenson, W.Gordon, N.Johnston, C.Todd

Referee: G.Greer

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