Barney McGonigle: Armagh certainly packing a punch
Undefeated Royal School Armagh host Grosvenor Grammar School tomorrow following an unscheduled break in both sides’ programmes.
Armagh’s front three — Jonathan Dixon, Simon Carlisle and Andrew Smyth — have been mainstays in their side’s unbeaten run and with half-backs Harry Doyle and Andrew Magowan enjoying the fruits of their pack’s graft they are looking particularly strong.
Grosvenor, buoyed up by a fine win over Banbridge Academy in their last game, nevertheless start as underdogs. who once again will look to the likes of Jonny Taylor, Mark Foster, Chris Quinn and Matthew Little for inspiration.
Royal School Dungannon, who host Skerries Community College, warmed up by beating Banbridge Academy 36-14 in mid-week, with Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ Under 18 centre, Peter Nelson, scoring three pre-interval tries and converting two for good measure. Out-half, Glen Smyton, added another.
Michael Runciman and Michael Ross replied with one apiece, Shandon Scott converting both. But that was to be their lot.
Dungannon, in contrast, ran in two second half tries, with winger, Andrew Creaney, getting both. Nelson added one conversion to finish with 21 points.
While Irish Schools’ commitments mean he will not be available to face Skerries, Andrew Clingan will be back and his inclusion alongside boys like Adam McCarter and Gary Wong will be important against guests who despite being without a trio of Irish Youths’ Under 18 Dublin camp-goers, will have a number of the excellent Leinster Youth team on show.
They include back row forward, Barry Murphy, and winger, Kevin Mc Grath.
Skerries’ coach is former IRFU National Schools’ Development Officer, John Murphy.
Belfast Royal Academy, who deservedly beat Coleraine AI last weekend at Castlerock Road, host up-and-down Banbridge Academy.
With scrum half and captain Connor Spence calling the shots behind a BRA pack in which Ian Henderson, Stuart Olding and Calum Leckey are key, the Cliftonville Road boys have scored a lot of points through David Cartmill, Marc Glover and Jordan Buchanon.
Banbridge are without three important players in Shandon Scott, James Gibson and Ben Martin, each of whom is injured. In their absence it will fall on Nathan McDonald, Michael Runciman, Michael Ross and Tom Morrow to front up.
Bangor Grammar School maintained their unbeaten run on Saturday against Larne, with Stuart McCloskey kicking all of their points.
Tomorrow they host a Coleraine AI side minus Irish Schools’ Ritchie McMaster. But CAI are not a one man band; Paddy Farrell, Dean Rankin, Alex Gourley and Michael Poskitt can play a bit, too.
Campbell College, whose apparent progress was halted unceremoniously by Methody last Saturday, host a Ballymena Academy team likewise smarting after losing to Limavady Grammar School.
Campbell’s Chris Best, Rory Scholes, Shane Moffatt and Toban Hunt threaten to make it another hard day for Ballymena who clearly missed Charlie Simpson’s input last weekend.
Irish Schools’ commitments mean he is unlikely to be available once again, for which Ballymena captain George Dennison will expect Caleb Morrison, Nicholas Sterling, Camille Delfy and Peter Wallace to deliver.
Ballyclare High School visit Belfast High School opponents who lost to Regent House last week.
This is their second meeting, BHS — for whom Robbie Fryars, Ian Weir and Ryan Mc Gonigle are key — having won the earlier encounter.
Ballyclare lost last week, too, Friends’ having beaten them, so they will hope to see Luc Baillie, Kirk Johnston and Peter Kennedy step up to the mark.
Dalriada School versus Limavady Grammar School could be a cracker off the back of last week’s fine wins over Portadown College and ballymena Academy respectively.
Jonny McLaughlin’s return was hugely significant for Dalriada, the Northern Bank Ulster Schools’ under-18 winger having missed six weeks through injury.
Limavady’s Robin Craig and Shay McIntosh were the outstanding forwards against Ballymena, while Peter Wilson and Nathan Barr shone at half back.
It was only in the final 15 minutes of their meeting with Dalriada that Portadown College ran out of gas.
Their poor results notwithstanding, they have good players in Stephen Hyde, William Millsopp, David Purdy and goal-kicker Chris Goodland.
But Omagh, too, can play, witness a victory over CAI and boys of the calibre of Aaron Shortt, Scott Elliott and Andy Allen who is a boy to watch for the future.
Down High School, whose lock John Donnan will be in Dublin, otherwise should be at full strength for the visit of injury-weakened Sullivan.
Down’s Aaron Curran, Stuart Orr and Jonny Rea could pose problems for Sullivan who are really missing backrow forward, Oliver Loughead.
In the circumstances, captain Connor Mc Collum will hope to see big performances from Hamish Graham and Harry Eves.