Schools call on twin threats in the quest for Cup glory
History will be made on Friday when both Ulster Bank Schools' Cup finalists will have twins in their teams. Chris and David Robinson will line out for RBAI while Josh and Sam Cardosi will be in the Wallace High side for the annual decider at Moylena (1pm).
It is a third final appearance in four years for Inst, but only four of last year's team, beaten by Belfast Royal Academy, are involved - including both Robinsons - while it is a first experience of the big day for Wallace, in their first final since 2005.
The other unusual aspect this year is that Johnny Waite will open the batting for Inst against his former mates having switched from Wallace to RBAI last September. Indeed, Waite, the son of NCU chairman and former Wallace captain Alan, scored a superb 80 against Inst in last year's McCullough Cup final, the day after the Schools' Cup showpiece.
RBAI will start firm favourites to repeat their 2014 success against Foyle, but Head of Cricket at the school Darren O'Neill is expecting a tough game.
"We played Wallace at the start of the season but both Cardosis were missing, indeed probably half of Friday's team were not playing so not too much should be read into that," he said.
"They had a very impressive win against Foyle in the semi-final - and Foyle knocked out BRA who were going for a hat-trick this year - so we will be giving them the utmost respect.
"Our strength would be our depth in batting. In our semi-final against Friends' School we lost a couple of early wickets, but Matthew Lightbody at No.4 hit 49 and the next three batsmen (Oliver Metcalfe, James Metcalfe and Bradley McNamara) all scored 50s and Daniel King is a good bat at No.8."
The two semi-finals had probably the biggest differential in victory margins in any competition anywhere, with Ben Rose taking five wickets for three runs as RBAI bowled out Friends' for 17 for a 262-run victory, while Wallace beat Foyle by just two runs in what Neil Hinds, their 1st XI coach, described as a pulsating encounter.
"We batted first and got a good start with Johnny Hunter, our captain, the son of Graeme Hunter who played for Lurgan, and Nathan Doak (son of former Ireland international Neil) scoring 81 for the first wicket," he said.
"Johnny and Josh Cardosi then kicked on and put on 59 in just eight overs. Johnny finished with 74 in our total of 158 for three, which I thought might have been 20 runs short.
"Foyle were going well in reply - they had 43 on the board from just eight overs - but Nathan took a couple of quick wickets to get us back in the game.
"But Foyle kept going and needed 28 off the last three overs, 21 off two and 11 off the last.
"They got it down to five off two balls but Sam Cardosi's fifth ball was a 'dot' and Foyle could only get two off the last ball."
Hinds says Wallace are determined to enjoy the day.
"The team is devoid of any real stars with only Hunter selected for last week's Schools Trial (RBAI had five involved) but the dedication and commitment of the players throughout the season has been tremendous and they have played cricket in a positive, workmanlike fashion within their limitations," he added.
Hunter's semi-final knock was his second half-century of the competition after scoring 68 against Antrim Grammar, while Josh Cardosi hit 67 in the second round win over Methody.
Doak top scored in the quarter-final against Bangor Grammar and he is also the leading wicket-taker with 10 in the first four rounds.
RBAI had a first-round bye then defeated Limavady Grammar by seven wickets (Waite 60 not out) and Down High by nine wickets (Waite 49 not out).
Teams: RBAI: J Waite, B Rose, M Lightbody, O Metcalfe, J Metcalfe, B McNamara, R O'Donnell, D Keane, C Robinson (capt), D Robinson, M Fleetham, N Armstrong
Wallace High School: J Hunter (capt), N Doak, J Cardosi, M Jones, S Cardosi, J Hamilton, P Hunter, H Long, L Allison, J Lynch, M Miller, Z Benson