SCHOOLS’ CUP: Wallace High wary of Omagh Academy challenge in fourth round

Wallace captain Gary Dillion
Wallace captain Gary Dillion

Wallace High will be expected to progress to the quarter-finals of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup on Saturday morning when they face Omagh Academy (kick-off 11am).

The fourth round tie is one of two games which features matches against ‘seeded’ teams, but the Lisburn boys are right to feel confident having enjoyed a handsome win over the Tyrone school earier in the season.

Omagh Academy captain James Longwell

Omagh Academy captain James Longwell

Wallace captain, Gary Dillon, will want his team mates to ensure they leave no stone unturned in an effort to overcome the Omagh challenge. He leads from the front and his team has produced an impressive set of results in the course of the current season. Not only has the team achieved some strong results against teams from Ulster but also against teams from Leinster as well.

Dillon has been the leading try scorer this season with Matthew Pentland, Jamie Manderson and Jonny Hunter not far behind. Matthew Pentland, as well as impressing with the ball in hand, is a superb place kicker.

Jamie Manderson is an athletic winger who has outpaced quite a few opposition defenders in his game this season. Jamie and Jonny Hunter both played for the Schools’ U18 team earlier in the season.

There are first class rugby genes in Jonny Hunter whose grandfather, Raymond, a former Wallace pupil, went on to play for Ulster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

The Cardosi twins, Sam and Josh, are two more players who have caught the eye of interested observers with their positive performances in recent games.

Omagh started the season off in a commanding position, recording some notable results against schools from all over the Province. One or two recent upsets have not in any way undermined the confidence the squad.

They will look upon this challenging visit to Wallace as an opportunity to put right their performance when the schools last met in November.

The team coach, Ross Hunter, isassisted by Alistair Brown and John Lagan, will see this fourth round tie as a challenge for the talented squad of players.

Team captain, James Longwell, a member of the famous Longwell rugby family, is a hard working backrow player who has been at the centre of all that has been good about the Omagh performances this season. He is a very combative player who loves nothing more than to get the ball in hand a take on the opposition.

The team has scored close to 300 points so far this season and conceded less than half of that total. James Longwell, Nathan Sides and Taine Lagan have been the leading try scorers this season with Kyle Beattie their leading point’s scorer.

The squad is made up of a useful mix of youth and experience. Players such as Taine Lagan, Glenn McKinley, Jake McCay and Robbie Sproule are seen as emerging talents whose skills have been recognized by the Ulster Rugby talent ID Department. They have been involved with a successful Ulster Schools’ U17 squad.