Schools’ Cup: Wallace High hoping to upset the odds against strongly fancied Methodist College in semi-final
Methodist College are the firm favourites to go through to this year’s Danske Bank Schools’ Cup final when they meet Wallace High in Wednesday’s semi-final at Kingspan Stadium (2.30pm).
MCB have come through their previous Cup games in a relatively comfortable fashion.
A win over Dalriada in the fourth round set them up for a city showdown against RBAI, winning with an impressive 29-14 scoreline.
Not for the first time MCB will carry the mantel of favourites to win the competition but their results this season against all-comers from schools in Ulster, Munster and Leinster would suggest the tag as favourites is fully justified.
Coached by the experienced duo of Nicky Wells and Stephen Lindsay. Kevin McNaboe is the team captain who has led his players to great success in the course of the current season.
Top point’s scorer for MCB is Ethan McIlroy, a talented player who is equally at home playing as a fullback or on the wing.
He has achieved representative honours with the Ulster U19 team this season and has been involved in Ireland U19 training camps.
Thomas Armstrong, Robbie Armstrong and Chris Larmour have also gained representative honours with the Ulster U19 team. These four players are responsible for scoring a high percentage of the tries this season.
Once again they will all see this semi-final game against Wallace as an opportunity to add to their impressive try and points scoring tallies.
Traditionally the basis for any MCB success has been with their pack. In players such as Kevin McNaboe and Ben Crangle, both of whom have been involved with previous Ulster Schools’ U18 squads, they have two of the finest forwards playing schools’ rugby at the minute.
They are joined by players such as Daniel Humphries, Ted Linton, Ben Gourley and Adam Reid.
This MCB side is balanced with a great deal of character being displayed by all the players.
In spite of having lost to MCB back in November the Wallace will relish this chance to have another go at the Belfast school in a hugely competitive environment.
The Lisburn boys were on the road for their previous two rounds in the competition, winning against Cambering House and then Rainey Endowed.
Wallace have recorded some other impressive results this season and contains some talented players in the squad.
They will see themselves as capable of causing an upset as they finalise preparations for this intriguing Semi-Final tie.
Wallace are coached by Derek Suffern who receives assistance from David Chambers and Neil Hinds.
Reuben Crothers, an outstanding No 8, is team captain, and has led his team well throughout what has been a successful season.
Crothers put in a superb performance against Rainey and will be hoping for another positive result.
Nathan Doak, a talented scrum half, is the leading point’s scorer on the Wallace team. He has an eye for the whitewash as well as being an accurate kicker out of hand and off the tee.
The talent of many of the players available to the Lisburn school’s coaching staff has been recognised by the management teams of Ulster Schools’, Ulster U19’s and Ireland U18 Schools’ squads.
Doak has been involved with all three squads with Crothers, Ben Carson and Joel Dundas having represented Ulster 18 Schools’ and Ulster U19 team.
Peter Heasley, Charlie Irvine and Harvey Patterson have been involved with the Ulster Schools’ U17 set up.
Peter McRoberts, one of the leading try scorers on the Wallace team and is also Head Boy. Jack Dillon is another player who could attract the attention of the Ulster Rugby Age Grade Talent ID Department.
Wallace have been described as being a hard working group of players by the coaching staff. They will be hoping that will pay off as they finalise their preparations before their biggest challenge of the season to date.