RUGBY UNION: Foyle College coach wary of dogged Antrim Grammar side

Centre Thomas Cole will have to be at his best when Foyle College host Antrim Grammar School this weekend. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Centre Thomas Cole will have to be at his best when Foyle College host Antrim Grammar School this weekend. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

Foyle College have a chance of reaching the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup third round for the first time in a number of years, but first they have to see off Antrim GS, at Springstown, this Saturday (KO 11am).

Having produced a super 21-7 win at Belfast High School in the previous round, coach David Barnett is expecting a tough encounter against Antrim this weekend.

However a place in the third round should be a nice wee incentive for the Foyle boys.

“It has been a few years since we have been in the third round,” said Barnett.

“But when it comes to cup ties I just take one game at a time and make sure they are only focusing on Saturday’s second round tie.

“The feedback what we go on Antrim Grammar is that they are one of those dogged teams, so we have to focus what is in front of us on Saturday and not worry about anything else.”

The Grammar School caused a shock in the last round when they had a narrow 16-15 victory at Banbridge Academy and because of that result Barnett will be warning his players to be ready right from the off.

“Banbridge were probably favourites going into that game, so Antrim winning was probably a big, big upset,” he said.

“The last time they met Banbridge beat Antrim 55-0, so it was a big performance by Antrim.

“Antrim Grammar rugby has improved over the last few years, so what we are trying to get through to the boys is if we go in with the wrong focus, wrong mindset, wrong attitude and don’t show them enough respect then things might not turn out to pleasant, so it’s a potential banana skin for us.

“It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we need to prepare the same way and just be focused right from the off and forget about Antrim Grammar’s past results and what they were like in past years, as they have earned the right to be in the second round.”

Barnett will also be telling his players to watch their discipline and not give away too many penalties as one of Antrim’s main men is penalty kicker Sam Gordon.

Gordon who stepped up in the dying minutes and coolly slotted between the uprights to secure the win over Banbridge in the last round.

“They have a real good kicker, who I think against Banbridge kicked everything, so because of that we’ll have to watch our discipline,” he added.

“Every penalty we concede they’ll probably be slotting it over, that’s how they beat Banbridge.”

Going into the game Barnett confirmed that he has virtually a fully fit squad going into the game, however skipper Callum McDonnell continues to struggle.

“Thankfully no one picked up an injury in the Belfast High game, but our captain Callum, who didn’t play in that game, has a trapped nerve in his shoulder but we are hoping he’s fit for Saturday,” added Barnett.

“He’s back doing light training and will start doing some full contact training this week, so hopefully we’ll have him back in the squad.”