Ballyclare Secondary win the Ulster High Schools’ Trophy for the second time and complete a historic double
This seeds Ballyclare Secondary into the second round of the U16 Ulster High Schools’ Trophy were they were drawn at home against Banbridge HS. In a very physical contest, Ballyclare won 31-5 with two tries from Ross Warren and Josh Catherwood and one from Adam Warren, who also converted three of the tries.
Ballyclare progressed to the Quarter Final where they came up against Craigavon Senior High School, who defeated Ballyclare last year in the semi-final, however this year Ballyclare got revenge with a 24-7 victory. Ballyclare produced an excellent team performance with clinically finishing against a strong Craigavon side which saw tries from Adam Shields, Matthew Simpson, Samuel Wilson and Ross Warren. This victory saw Ballyclare progress into the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive year, were they were drawn against Fivemiletown College with the game played at Queens RFC. Ballyclare made a very strong start to the game, taking a 17-0 lead with a hat trick of tries from Ross Warren. Ballyclare went on to win the game 22-3, with a further try from Carter Harbinson, to ensure Ballyclare advanced to the Kingspan final for the third time in four years.
Ballyclare faced a skillful and physical Ballynahinch High School team in the showpiece final. Ballynahinch gained entry to the final by beating reigning champions Dromore HS 26-22 in the semi-final.
Having already met in the Pollock Cup final earlier this year (cup shared due to game being stopped for an injury), an entertaining and closely fought contest was once again expected between these teams.
Ballyclare Secondary School were keen to avoid three final defeats in a row, having previously been beaten by Dromore High School in the 2015 and 2016 deciders, however, it was The High School Ballynahinch who made the brighter start with a converted try after just two minutes.
Ballyclare responded three minutes later with a try of their own from Man of the Match James Wilson, and then took control of the game with some fantastic lineout set pieces and lines of running which saw both Jordan Wilson and Josh Catherwood scoring. Adam Warren added an excellent solo try which gave Ballyclare a 20-7 lead at the break.
Ballynahinch reduced the deficit to 20-14 with a converted try one minute after half time, but Ballyclare dominated the remainder of the game with tries from Jack Milton (2), and captain Ross Warren to essentially put the contest beyond doubt.
In the closing stages Ballynahinch added a consolation try, but it was Ballyclare Secondary School who celebrated the title win, their first in this competition since 1996.
Squad: Squad: Jordan Wilson, B Evans, W Stewart, H Farren, J Kennedy, James Wilson, J Catherwood, D Coyle, C Harbinson, S Richmond, A Warren, R Warren (Capt), S Wilson, A Shields, J McKernon, S McConkey, J Henderson, R Magill, J Milton, M Simpson, C Todd, C Boston, B Yip Coaches: Mr A Cowden and Mr S McGuigan