Quartet start out on long road to Schools' Cup glory
St Patrick's Day may still seem some way off but the journey to Kingspan Stadium and the Danske Bank Schools' Cup final begins in earnest today with two ties making up the first round. The opening fixture of this season's competition sees Strabane Academy host Carrickfergus Grammar (11.30am kick-off), while Cambridge House will later welcome Larne Grammar (12pm kick-off).
Strabane's coach Niall O'Donnell continues to make strides towards growing rugby in the County Tyrone school but it will be a testing game against Carrickfergus.
A young side, coming off a defeat at the hands of Larne last week, they will still expect to book their place in round two and earn a tie with Lurgan Grammar on January 7.
Captain Mark Snoddy has been struggling with injury this season but is hopeful of making the start this morning while Iain Woodside and Josh Clements have been the side's top try-scorers so far this term.
When the same sides met in the first round last season, Carrick proved victorious but lasted only one further round when they were knocked out by Royal School Dungannon.
In the second game, Cambridge House are likely to be seen as favourites, especially with home advantage and the recent memory of a pre-season victory secured over today's opposition.
They will be wary of Barry McFall, the Larne captain who is also his side's leading scorer.
The winner of the clash will face Dalriada in early January.