Danske Bank Schools' Cup draw: First and second rounds scheduled as big hitters await
St Patrick's Day may seem quite some time away but preparations for the Danske Bank Schools' Cup have begun in earnest with yesterday seeing the draw for the first and second rounds.
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Four teams will compete in the first round as early as next month with Antrim Grammar hosting Carrickfergus Grammar and Wellington College travelling to Strabane Academy. The winners of those ties already know who they will face in the second round where a further 12 teams will enter the fray.
The 2015-17 winners Royal Belfast Academical Institution won't enter the competition until February but when they do, there will be plenty of interest.
With Dan Soper joining the Ulster coaching ticket, he has been replaced by former Bangor Grammar man Jason Morgan.
While RBAI's old rivals Methody, as well as Wallace High, are seen as the prohibitive favourites at this early stage, Morgan is enjoying his new role.
"It's taken a few weeks to settle in," he said. "There's a bigger number of teams and with that comes a new set of challenges, even just with the more games and making sure you've enough people and the right buses for the right kick-off times. I'm starting to really enjoy it."
Recent results haven't been perfect, including a 30-13 loss to holders Campbell at the weekend, but Morgan believes things aren't far from turning round.
"When you come to the event like this you start to get a wee feeling that it's not too far away. We're only two months away really so it won't be long. We've always got one eye on it. We're lucky in the sense that we may not be in top form now but we'll be playing a lot of the top southern schools, a lot of the best schools in Ulster.
"That's going to get us to where we need to be come cup time.
"It's been tough, we lost a few boys to injury and when you have the fixtures that we do, if you lose four or five you're going to get found out eventually.
"We lost to Blackrock but it was only 6-3 and then just with Campbell, it was 13-13 at half-time but their discipline was just better. Once we get those wee things sorted we'll be flying."
Schools' Cup first round draw
Antrim Grammar v Carrickfergus Grammar; Strabane Academy v Wellington College.
- Ties to be played December 15.
Schools' Cup second round draw
Limavady Grammar v Larne Grammar; Grosvenor v Friends; Cambridge House v Banbridge Academy; Lurgan College v Foyle College; Dromore HS v Regent House; Antrim Grammar/Carrickfergus Grammar v Down High School; Belfast High School v Strabane Academy/Wellington College.
- Ties to be played Saturday, January 12.