Green proud of St Columb's players despite NI Cup final defeat
St Columb's College Under 18sÂ coach James Green said the experience gained by his players will stand them in good stead despite the heartbreak of their 3-1 extra time defeat in theÂ Danske Bank Northern Ireland Schools' Cup final at Seaview on St Patrick's Day.
"We challenged our boys before the game to go out and play a good brand of football, and go out and win the game playing that way," said the St. Columb's coach after watching Grosvenor Grammar retain the trophy. .
"Unfortunately on the day it didn't happen for us. It's a great experience for them though especially playing in front of a big crowd.
"We hope that they will go on and play in front of bigger crowds.There's a lot of belief in that squad, and they are technically very good footballers, and I believe they will go a long way."
Meanwhile Grosvenor captain Stuart Nelson praised his team-mates after they created their own little piece of history.
The Belfast side had to dig deep to finally see off St Columb's to retain the Danske Bank Northern Ireland Schools’ Cup for the first time.
"The boys have been brilliant, these boys are my best friends and it's great to win a game of football with your mates," said Nelson.
"We've created a bit of history now, we have won the cup a few times but we've never defended it. We just had to dig deep, they are a great side, they battered us to be honest, but thankfully we managed to grab two late goals to get the win."
Conor Kernohan had given the holders the lead in the 45th minute, only to be cancelled out by Matty Doherty’s penalty for St Columb’s four minutes later. Josh Kelly and Nelson got the decisive strikes, after the game had ended 1-1 following 80 minutes of tense action.
Nelson was part of the Grosvenor side which won the trophies on penalties last year, and he admitted that he thought it was heading that way this year again.
"Last year's final went to penalties and I thought we were heading that way again, fortunately we saved everyone from the drama again," he said.
"It was brilliant to win it last year, I thought I wouldn't get another chance if I'm being honest. You could see from the crowd we had out today what it means to the school, it's a great way to round off the school year."
Grosvenor coach Darren Thomkins also praised the character of his players as they saw the game out.
"Our boys did the school and their families proud. It was a tough game, but we stuck at it and took our chances when they came along," he said.
"The guys have a great attitude, we have been down a few times this year but have battled back.
"To be able to retain the trophy is a fantastic achievement for the school."