Schools' Cup: Gutted Bell in tribute to rivals
Devastated RBAI captain Paddy Bell couldn’t hide his heartbreak after the full-time whistle as Campbell College beat their Belfast rivals to lift the Northern Bank Schools Cup.
Having seen his side get within a whisker of Campbell midway through the second-half, the flanker was left heartbroken at the end of a thrilling 80 minutes of rugby.
“Obviously the team and I are gutted right now, but all credit to Campbell — they were outstanding today,” said Bell.
“They were the better team and deserved to win, but that doesn’t take anything away from our team, we gave everything we had and we’ve only just missed out.
“Every single one of the players gave it their all and we pushed them all the way. It wasn’t one-sided.”
Campbell had been tipped as favourites coming into the St Patrick’s Day final at Ravenhill, but found themselves behind when Inst took an early 6-0 lead thanks to the foot of Matthew McGuigan.
The city centre side rode the storm after the restart as Campbell hit back hard before a try from Patrick Anderson brought them right back into the mix.
“We knew we came into this game as underdogs and some people may have thought Campbell would walk over us, but that wasn’t the case. We showed just what a brave and talented team we are,” continued the skipper.
Inst fans appeared to be winning the vocal battle over their Campbell counterparts, but second-half tries from Chris Farrell and Rob Haldane were enough to seal victory for the Belmont side en route to an 18-11 winning scoreline.
“We knew we could push them all the way and we believed we could win, but it just didn’t happen today,” said Bell.
“That’s the way it goes sometimes in rugby and although we didn’t win I’m still so proud of the players and thankful to the coaching staff.
“It’s been a dream come true to lead Inst out at Ravenhill today. I’ve been watching the team play in Schools’ Cup finals since I was a young boy, so it’s been an honour.”