Grammar going into Cup clash as favourites

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LIMAVADY Grammar School will head into the Danske Bank Schools Cup rugby competition third round in confident mood this weekend.

The Grammar have been drawn with Lisburn Friends’ School, a team the local boys will be favourites to beat. The match is due to be played at 11am in Lisburn on Saturday, January 26.

Physical Education teacher and experienced Schools Cup coach Stephen Barr said that whilst preparations have not been ideal, largely because of disruption caused by injuries and poor weather, the Grammar will be going into the game as favourites, “at least on paper.”

Limavady Grammar’s match against Lisburn Friends’ will be their first in the Danske Bank Schools Cup, having been seeded for the first and second rounds.

The Grammar have, however, a good string of performances already under their belts this year with their young side losing just 12 out of 14 matches.

Stephen Barr believes their squad, which is young even at schools level, will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of losing out to Wallace High School away from home last year.

He said: “The first two rounds are over. The first round is for the traditionally weaker teams, with just a few matches. The second round is also over. We are a seeded team so we went straight into the third round.

“We play the Friends’ School in Lisburn. There is a sort of an unofficial rankings. At the minute they have us ranked at nine and them ranked at 29, so we will be going in as favourites, at least on paper.

“We were very disappointed last year. We had a very successful season and we were disappointed to draw Wallace High School away from home and lose out to them.

“One thing we do have is a very young team. Only four of the starting line-up will be leaving at the end of this year, whereas Lisburn is a mostly upper-sixth team, so that is something to think about.”

Speaking about their form so far this academic year, and their preparations for a successful run in the Schools Cup, Mr Barr added: “We have only lost four out of 16 games. Two of those were by a single point so things have been going well.

“We have had a lot of injuries though, which has caused a lot of disruption. We have a lot of them back now, so hopefully we will be able to put out a full side. Obviously it has disrupted our preparations, as well as the weather, which has also made things difficult.”

He continued: “I think that at this time of the year no-one gets the preparation as well as you would have liked, but that is something you have to live with.

“We played the Royal School in Armagh recently, one of the top four teams in the country, and we beat them by two points. If we are fortunate enough to be able to put in a decent performance we should be able to win on Saturday and we will be able to continue our preparation for a good run in the Schools Cup.”

The match is due to be played away from home, in Lisburn, at 11.15am.