Schools' Cup: Ambitious Dromore HS aiming to make a big impact
Dromore High played in the Danske Bank Schools' Cup for the first time last year and managed to reach the second round, but their coach Josh Pentland is hoping for better this season when they start their challenge against Foyle College this evening (7pm).
"So far our results have been mixed, but encouraging victories over Cambridge House and Regent House have boosted morale," stated the Malone Rugby Club star.
"I feel we are better than last year, but the team is still young with only four boys in Upper Sixth.
"Despite this there is plenty of experience as both the half-backs were in the team that eliminated Banbridge Academy last January. Reuben Cobb is at out-half, while his partner Rhys Dale is still only in Lower Sixth, and their experience will be crucial," he added.
Dromore are strong up front with No.8 Ben Heath one of their best players. He is the main ball carrier, effective at the breakdown, and has won a number of turnovers.
Dean Dillon is another who Dromore High will look to for inspiration.
"All in all we try to play good rugby, but the conditions will dictate that," stated Pentland.
"We are looking forward to the challenge at Foyle and playing under the floodlights at Judge's Road.
"It is a long trip of nearly two hours but we'll leave early and have a rest before the game.
"We expect it to be tough as they have a formidable pack and a strong centre, but we are confident and will give our best," he concluded.
Foyle have a couple of formidable props in Ben Pollin and Jacob McDermott and, while their second row may not be the biggest, their captain and No.8 Joel Smyth is aggressive and a strong runner, and this is his third and final Schools' Cup campaign.
Their vice captain and centre Keelin Coyle is a speedy runner, excellent in defence, provides superb leadership and direction in mid-field and is part of the Ulster Under-19 squad.
David Barnett, the Foyle College coach, feels the game will be a close encounter, but a lot will depend on what the weather brings.
"Judge's Road was flooded on Tuesday evening and City of Derry had to cancel their training," he commented.
"We were supposed to be training there on Wednesday night but that was also cancelled.
"The weather forecast is not good so we will keep our fingers crossed that the game can be played."
In this evening's other tie Cambridge House face Banbridge Academy at Eaton Park (7pm).