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In-form Roesiders wary of Foyle challenge in derby tie

By Ronnie Ingram

Limavady Grammar will have history, form and home advantage all on their side but that could all go out the window when near neighbours, Foyle and Londonderry College come calling.

The north west derby is one of the most eye-catching clashes in the second round of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup.

But while, the Roesiders have a better performance record this season, including a convincing 29-3 success over their opponents in September and are on home turf, coach Stephen Barr is taking nothing for granted.

"Every school wants a home draw but there are no easy games," he warned. "I feel that if we can stay calm for the first 15 minutes and not let the occasion get to us we have a good chance of advancing.

"We have formidable forwards with a lot of experience who have already steered us to many successes.

"We have a 10-3 win over Ballymena Academy to our credit and we narrowly lost at Armagh Royal 29-20. They are unofficially seeded four and five respectively so those performances have boosted our confidence.

"Richard Boyd and Rory Squires are strong in the front row and the large second row comprises of Brendan Ferguson and Daniel Miller. Sam Mackey at No 8 is skilful and mobile and if we win enough ball our backs will score the tries."

Scrum-half Ross Allen and centre Jamie Millar, who are Irish Schools' cricketers, could be the boys to score those tries while centres Michael Barr and Tom McClelland also have a lot of pace.

Foyle may be the underdogs but that doesn't worry them.

"We know it will be exceptionally difficult as this is the Limavady team that reached the final of the Medallion Shield two years ago," said Foyle coach David Barnett.

"Nevertheless we will give it a good go and we do have Cup experience after eliminating Friends in the first round.

"Hopefully my players will have gained from that experience as the first game in the competition is always nerve-racking." Foyle have a lot of strength in the back row where Paddy Leeson and Niall Adair are the captain and vice captain respectively.

Out-half Alex McDonnell, a Lower Sixth pupil, scored 14 points, including a solo effort try against the Lisburn side and along with full-back Robbie House is a big player.

"If all the squad play to their capabilities we have a chance. I know our team is younger and not as physical as Limavady but if we can play our usual high tempo game then we could cause an upset," added Barnett. "The first 20 minutes will be crucial, especially in the breakdown and if we can hold them then anything could happen."

Another interesting tussle is the meeting of Bangor Grammar and Grosvenor Grammar at Orangefield.

Grosvenor have an abundance of experience with Sam Purdon, Shane Johnston, Jamie McMullan and Neil Cushley involved in their third Cup campaign but Bangor have a strong pack including Andrew Shaw, Zac Slevin, Eliot Boylan and Conor McKee while in the backs captain Phil Broderick, Shaun Fair and Ross McCloskey, brother of the Ravens' Stuart, are capable of scoring the tries.

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