So close for gallant Strabane Academy.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

STRABANE Academy were agonisingly close to forcing a replay with Carrickfergus Grammar School in the first round of the Schools Cup, narrowly losing out right at the death 14-12 on Monday afternoon.


Niall McDonnell's charges were inches from tying the game in the final stages in which Carrick would have had to come down to Strabane for the replay.

In a very nervy encounter, the visitors started the game stronger and forced Carrick into a lot of errors.

As the first half continued, only some resolute defending kept Strabane at bay.

When the nerves settled, Carrick's tactics at the breakdown forced Strabane to concede a lot of penalties. The hosts though were unable to capitalise with points on the board and as the half drew to a close, and the teams were at a stalemate.

However Strabane can feel dismayed at having two tries ruled out, one for a forward pass and another that was stoodup.

The second half was a similar story with both sides struggling to put meaningful phases together.

Strabane continued to frustrate the home side though by slowing down possession and turning over a lot of ball, and they struck first with little more than 10 minutes remaining.

A slick back line attack saw centre Jamie Brown crash over near the posts for a converted try, Michael Doherty adding the extras.

This seemed to spark Carrick into life and after some good interplay between backs and forwards, full back Jack Leathem crashed over. Daniel Curley added the extras from the touch line to tie the scores.

With time running out, it was Carrick who took the lead with prop Josh Irvine rumbling over from three yards out, amidst calls from the Strabane players for dubious grounding.

The try was given though and again Curley added the difficult conversion to take the home side 14-7 in the lead.

The gallant Strabane boys though refused to lie down and with the last play of the game they scored out wide through Jordan Mealiff, who picked from a scrum and went on the blindside.

Doherty couldnt make the difficult conversion, leaving the final score 14-12 to Carrick.

"You couldn't fault their effort," said team coach Niall McDonnell, who revealed the result was very tough to take.

" We've a squad of 23 players, every kid from fifth year up. We're competing against a school that's twice our size, and that wouldn't even be one of the big schools.

"But how could you not be proud of how the boys played."


Subscribe to read full newspaper »

Send to a friend

Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.

In order to process your information we must ask you to enter the letters in the image into the box:

CAPTCHA Image play audio version Reload Image

* Mandatory field - please complete