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Schools Cup: Antrim ready to lock horns with Wellington

The Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup kicks off tomorrow with Antrim Grammar School hosting Wellington College.

The prize on offer to the winners of this first round tie is continuation in the Schools’ Cup. For the losers the consolation is a place in the Northern Bank-sponsored Ulster Schools’ Trophy.

Antrim may just have the edge by virtue of home advantage coupled with having beaten tomorrow’s opponents.

Wellington, however, will point to the fact that on the day Antrim beat them they were without their inspirational captain and key back row member, David Marshall (pictured), who was on representative duty with the Ulster Schools’ team.

As the first player from Wellington College ever to have gained representative honours at this level, Marshall’s importance to his team cannot be over-emphasised.

Nor is he the only member of the Wellington side with Schools’ Cup experience. Michael Hamilton, Ali Lavery, Danny Mowbray and Kyle Walker have played in the competition before and they will hope to bring their resultant know-how to the table.

In contrast, Owen Jarvie and Dean Barbour — who joined the Wellington College sixth form in the autumn — are Schools’ Cup novices. But both have made real progress since enrolling at Carolan Road and they are looking forward to lining out in their first Schools’ Cup outing.

Coaches Peter Chambers, Matthew McCormack and Matthew Sunnerton have prepared Wellington well and their conviction is that provided they play as they can, their boys are capable of upstaging Antrim.

As with the guests, the hosts’ captain is crucial to his team’s well-being.

Antrim’s Tommy Brownlee is one tough cookie who demands maximum effort from those he leads, not least his back row colleagues.

Kick-off time tomorrow morning at Steeple Road is 10.30.

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