RUGBY UNION: Barnett feels underdogs tag with suit Foyle College

Foyle College's Killene Thorton will need to be at his best this weekend against Dalriada
Foyle College's Killene Thorton will need to be at his best this weekend against Dalriada

Foyle College coach David Barnett feels the underdogs tie will suit his side going into this Saturday’s home Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Cup tie against Dalriada (KO 11am).

Barnett also concedes that his squad are confident they can cause an upset at but he admits that they will have to raise their game if they harbour hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in a number of years.

“I felt against Antrim we were very nervous at the start and it did cross my mind that being favourites didn’t suit us, maybe us being underdogs might suit us,” said Barnett.

“We won’t have that extra pressure or expectation on us to win the game.”

Foyle came from behind to see off Antrim Grammar in the previous round, but the coach knows they will have to raise their game this weekend.

“It’s nice that we are at home, but it will be a lot tougher,” he said.

“In the unofficial rankings I think Dalriada are ranked about eighth, so it’s a big step up.

“They are a very big physical team, they have a big 12 who just try to hit it up the middle and I think they’ll try to get a few runners off him and then try to flash it wide.

“I also think they are pretty effective from the line-out.”

The sides met earlier in the season with the Ballymoney teenagers coming out on top, however Barnett felt his boys did well in that game and he would love a similar display but a better result this Saturday.

“We played them at the start of the year and there was 12 points in it but the score-line sort of flattered them a bit as they got a try in the last minute and we were leading at half-time,” he added.

“The boys are buzzing, they are positive and there’s a real feeling within the camp that we can do it, we are definitely capable of beating them.

“We are targeting a spot in the quarter-finals, we are in the last 16 and we haven’t been there in years but if we got into the quarter’s you never know what might happen, it’s cup rugby.”

Barnett confirmed that he has a fully fit squad to choose from after skipper Callum McDonnell came through the Antrim win unscathed, he is also hoping that rugby fans from the city will come out and cheer the boys on 
this weekend.

“We are at full strength, the only player we don’t have available is our tight head Ben Pollin, but we didn’t have him against Belfast High either so we’ll have to get on with it.

“The one thing that we have in our squad is that there’s absolutely no stars, there a team that plays for each other they all fight for the jersey and there’s a real bond in the team and they really play for each out and that comes through in there play in every game.

“We aren’t cocky, we are confident that we can do it, we know it’s going to be a tough, tough game but we know if we play to our best then we are more than capable of winning, so hopefully we can get a big support out to cheer the boys on.”