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Schhols’ Cup: Teams follow trail left by Rainey storm

By Niall Crozier

With Rainey Endowed blazing a trail for them to follow, 10 more teams will tomorrow attempt to follow them into the draw for Round Three of the Northern Bank Schools’ Cup.

The seeding system formula means that those emerging triumphant will join Banbridge Academy, Bangor GS, Coleraine Inst, Dalriada, Down HS, Foyle & Londonderry College, Friends, Limavady GS, Regent House and Sullivan Upper in Round Three, with the big guns — holders Ballymena Academy, Ballyclare HS, Belfast Royal Academy, Campbell College, Methodist College, Royal Belfast Academical Instituition and Wallace HS — entering the fray in Round Four.

Just which of tomorrow’s 10 runners will still be there by that stage remains to be seen. And whilst there is little — make that no — possibility that any of those emerging from round two going all the way and winning at Ravenhill on March 17, that fact will neither impact negatively on their desire to go as far as they can nor on their determination to avoid following Omagh Academy through the exit at this early stage.

With tomorrow’s line-up featuring schools which, like Rainey, are past winners of the competition — Royal School Dungannon, Portora Royal School and Grosvenor boast that pedigree — plus in Antrim GS, Belfast HS, Cambridge House, Carrick GS, Larne GS, Portadown College and Wellington College, a septet which has never scaled those heights, there will be no lack of desire to recapture past glories or break new ground on their parts. One of the intriguing ties will be the battle between Portora Royal and Larne Grammar.

Portora Royal had a reasonable season in 2010 when they reached the semi-final of the Subsidiary Shield before losing to Campbell College (29-14) but their form this year has not been so good.

They have lost a number of matches after an optimistic start but this can be put down to a large number of injuries.

The loss of their captain Adam Farrell through injury was a devastating blow as his contribution was enormous and it helped to dent team morale.

Portora were disappointed with the loss against Belfast High and will need to have regained confidence before this meeting with Larne.

The Co Antrim side have had a mediocre start but following their tour to Canada in October they have combined better as a team. They are a young side and against teams of similiar standard, they have held their own — the top teams in the Province are not on their fixture list. One of their strengths is in the back row where Ethan Kerr, Calum and Bill Brown have consistently put in a lot of work while captain Ross Williamson has lead from the front.

This tie could go either way and may end up as a draw.

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